I’m at the Craperoo Coffee House typing these words while Grampa Munster quietly circles groups of letters in one of the jumbo word-search puzzle magazines which I grab up for him at the dollar stores. He goes through these exercises like a machine; for hours while I write, research or loiter on facebook. He’s just content to be away from the home. “Happy Acres,” he calls it.
Last night, for the first time in years, I talked to an old friend on the phone. The exuberant astral-travelling writer friend who once taught me to call myself a writer – what? Ten years ago? Who’d talked about fear before I was ready to listen. Last night she told me that her husband; another old writing friend of mine, now has Alzheimer’s and has for six years now. It hurt to hear this. Her life has been simplified. She spends nearly every moment at home and on guard now. When he’s not acting out violently or trying to escape the front door in order to get hit by cars, he too sits in front of word searches, endlessly circling words.
Two nights ago I was out with Munster at a different Coffee Crap Stand location but without laptop or magazine, and there he told me about a new concession. They’ve been dangling the promise of the phasing out of “counseling” visits with the non-present-psychiatrist’s zany husband, and non-renewal of various mundane conditions come January 2018, if he will commit to permanent residence at the government-sponsored Happy Acres or like facility, and he’s been all over that. If he had even the slightest excuse for a spine he could ditch all of this because no judge could possibly deny his plea that he has been entirely rule-abiding and a non-threat for years. But any judge will also go along with any proposed sanctions where the target is too intimidated by his masters to protest.
Now his masters have wiggled a new condition into the mix which Gramps failed to mention to me until now, after it has gone into effect. He has added a new “anti-arousal” drug which he is now taking in addition to the Lupron he’s been having injected for decades.
The problems around Lupron and associated anti-arousal measures are plentiful.
“I wish you’d told me about this,” I said. “Find out the name of the drug please. I want to do some research on it.” He didn’t seem compelled; suggested it was a done deal. “I want to see what the potential side effects are.”
“Well, there are no side effects from the Lupron,” he says.
“We don’t know that for certain.”
“Well, I haven’t had any side effects.”
“You can’t be sure,” I said. “These things might be affecting your brain!”
Why did I say that?
Gramps started to tear up.
Days later I am still regretful. How the hell could I be so unthinking? So insensitive?
I was on edge because here he was making decisions which could have serious detrimental effects on his life without consulting me… ME! The only person in the world who gives enough of a damn about him to want to protect him from potential harm.
We remained quiet for a while and his tears ceased before they really got going but I knew that he was thinking about it. He knows he is slow. We both know he is prone to anxiety. Have I sentenced him to a remainder of life always wondering if he has let his own mind be destroyed by buying a few optional privileges in exchange for submission to treatment that is quite probably barbaric and medieval by honest accounting?
It was so stupid of me. A moment of frustration. A moment unthinking. I have to be more mindful than this. I must not lay unnecessary burdens on him.