Sunday, January 04, 2009


On Friday morning, I had to be the designated driver when Tom had an upper GI test at the hospital. The hospital staff knew in advance that they were going to fill him full of hallucinogenic drugs, so they warned us he could not drive himself home. At 6 a.m., Tom and I reported to the outpatient surgery center registration desk. I handed over to the nurses a perfectly sane 64-year-old man, and an hour and a half later, they returned to me a loopy, senile, doddering old fart.

His upper GI test turned out to be clear (pinkest esophagus in town). However, because of the drugs they had mainlined into him during the procedure, the nurse sternly sat down with me before she turned us loose. “He mustn’t operate any machinery the rest of the day,” she warned.

“Okay, no driving,” I said back solemnly, nodding my head in understanding. I tried to look responsible enough to be his caretaker.

“No, not even a snow blower or a blender or anything else where he might hurt himself,” the nurse cautioned soberly. Tom stared at her, glassy-eyed, smiling at her as if she were an angelic vision. (She was in her middle 50s with long gray hair pulled back in a pony tail. Her name tag read ‘Theresa.’)

“He mustn’t drink any alcohol for 24 hours,” she continued emphatically. I looked into Tom’s glassy eyes; it was only 7:30 a.m., but he looked like he had been drinking for days.

“No alcohol,” I repeated. Tom nodded, fascinated with a crack in the wall.

“He shouldn’t make any major decisions today,” she said, looking sternly at Tom. He smiled back at her goofily. He appeared to be in love.

I hesitated a moment. Might this be a golden opportunity to get my way in a few household decisions that Tom had been reluctant to rule in my favor? But my conscience took over. “No major decisions,” I agreed reluctantly.

“He might have some short term memory loss,” the gray-haired nurse continued. Tom smiled at her as if she had offered him a gift.

“Thank you,” he said sincerely. Evidently, there were a few things he wanted to forget. He blinked twice, and then turned to me. “Did you talk to the doctor?” he asked.

“Yes, the doctor came in after you were done with the test, and he said everything was fine,” I reassured him. The gray-haired nurse nodded in agreement, and Tom smiled benignly.

We were finally allowed to leave. Tom clung to our arms, tottery and wobbly, as we made our way out to the reception area. The nurse left us at the front door, handing over complete responsibility to me. “Hang on tight to him,” she scolded when I didn’t take his arm. “It’s slippery out there.” Tom beamed at her in appreciation. I was afraid he might hug her, so I gave him a tug and he followed obediently.

“Did you talk to the doctor?” he asked again when we got in the car.

I put the key in the ignition and looked at him sideways. “Yes,” I repeated patiently. “I talked to the doctor and he said that everything was fine.” Tom nodded contentedly.

When we got home, Tom decided he wanted oatmeal, so I cooked him a bowlful with raisins, his favorite. As I set the bowl in front of him, Tom asked carefully, enunciating his words slowly, “Did you talk to the doctor?”

“Um, that’s the third time you’ve asked me that,” I said, concerned. “Don’t you remember that I told you he said everything was fine?”

Tom looked at me blankly. “I did?” he asked, carefully spooning his oatmeal into his mouth. Later I found the half-eaten oatmeal by the sink, and he had gone to his recliner in his office. He was dozing under his favorite blanket. A few minutes later, he called, “I think I’ll go to bed and lie down awhile.”

“Good idea,” I called back. Then I heard his voice float back, “Did you talk to the doctor?”

“Yes, he said we’d have to amputate your head!”

“Okay,” he said, and headed back to the bedroom.

I think I had a little taste of what life might be like in 25 or 30 years. I can hardly wait.


middleson said...

:) your post had me cracking up.
sounds like an experience...for both of you.

Elaine said...

OMG! You are hysterical!

Tootie said...

Oh my, I've been just like that on a couple of occasions. My daughter said she knows what I will be like in a few years, because she was the one who took me home after the same procedure. She said I kept asking if she had gone to WalMart to buy her paint, at least 6 times. The next time, she told me that she had picked up the paint, painted the room and NOT to ask her about it later. :-)
I enjoyed your story! :-)