Friday, September 21, 2012

An Update on Andy

Friends have asked for an update on Andy, our neighbor. I recounted his story in earlier posts. In the last installment, he’d just moved into an assisted-living facility, and the adjustment wasn’t going well. I stopped writing at that point because, quite frankly, it got too depressing. We’d hoped that a new environment—better health care, regular meals, company—would be good for him. Instead, the strange surroundings only hastened his decline. He slept all day. We worried that the staff was keeping him drugged. They told me he stayed up all night, rearranging his furniture. The exertion made his legs swell. He collapsed, turned blue and was taken to the hospital. Tests showed nothing wrong. He removed his own catheter. The hospital sent him home, still bleeding. I spent ten hours in the emergency room, trying to get him readmitted. Because I wasn’t a relative, each new nurse and doctor insisted on grilling Andy about his symptoms.

“Where are you bleeding, sir?” [look of panic] “I’m bleeding?” [repeat 15 times]

It’s been five months now, and several more trips to the hospital. After Andy came home the last time, a nurse at Grand Villa called to tell me she’d arranged for hospice to make an assessment. “I know that vacant look,” she said. Andy rallied the other day, coming out of his fog long enough to tell a friend, “You’re not giving me enough information.”

I tell Andy’s story as a cautionary tale. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Get your papers in order. Be nice to the people who might take care of you one day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

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