“Days like this are so strange”
He repeated this multiple times. Just like he repetitively asked the same questions over and over again.
“Why am I here? How did I get here? Are my parents alive? What is the day?”
Mom and I took turns answering them. It became exhausting. The whole day had been exhausting. Let me start from the beginning.
I came home from work justifiably exhausted and ready for the weekend. It had been another stressful week. Problems with work combined with problems with my health had been my trouble that week. I had to leave early one day because I was feeling unwell. This caused me to decide to move my doctors appointment to be sooner. I would have to come in to work a few hours later, so I asked my boss if this was okay and she said it was fine, and that my health was more important. However, her boss was not so okay with it. Not knowing the situation it just seemed like I was being irresponsible, so she instructed my boss (who has only been in charge for two weeks) to give me a verbal warning. This was upsetting news to me, as I’d been working there for four years had a good record of reliability. It put me in a bad mood for the next two days. Then of course I had the doctors appointment, which caused me great anxiety. Then there was Friday and Saturday, which weren’t too bad, still I was excited when my work week was over and I could relax and have fun.
I wasn’t expecting what I found upon entering my house. It was my dad standing there looking befuddled, and dazed. I said “How are you?” and he said “Not so good. I’m all confused and disoriented. I don’t know what’s real and what’s not.”
Oh no, not this again! A few years back this very same thing happened. At first my mom thought he had had a stroke. It was terrifying and we all had visions of life changing for the worse.
Fortunately it was no stroke. After being in the ER for a few hours they moved him to the hospital, where he stayed overnight. They told us he had experienced what was called “transient global amnesia.” It is a disorder in which the person experiencing it has a disruption of their short-term memory, and some trouble with older memories as well. It is only temporary.
I had never heard of it before, but it was certainly a relief to find that he was okay, and his memory would return shortly. By the next day he was back to normal. They told us this would never happen again.
Back to the present. After realizing he must have had another episode of TGA I called my mom, who instructed me to take him to the hospital right away. I told my dad I was taking him to St Marys. He asked “Why?” so I told him he was disoriented and confused and had lost his memory. He said “I don’t think I need to go” and I said “You’re going.”
He made it very difficult, it was almost humorous to me that it felt like my 70 year old father was a child that I was trying to get ready for school. I had to tell him to put his shoes on. Then I had to get them for him, and sit with him and pester him to get them on his feet. In doing so I asked him questions to test his memory.
I asked “Do you know who your daughters are?”
He said “yeah!”
“Can you say our names?”
“Chelsea and Olivia.”
I said “You have one more…” to which he responded “uhhhh” so I reminded him her name was Jodi, to which he responded “Oh yeah…” and I asked how many children she had. He said he wasn’t sure. I answered “Twelve.”
“What?! Twelve children? No way!” he exclaimed. I reassured him this was correct and explained that she gave birth to eight and adopted four.
Finally he got his shoes on. I urged him to come with me, but he walked idly around the living room and kitchen. We had just gotten new couches and the old ones had not been removed yet. He looked at the couch in the middle of the kitchen and asked “Why is this here?” and I told him why, but he kept asking about it. He continuously asked if I was taking him to the hospital, and why.
I almost had him ready to come downstairs to exit the house, when he stated “I’m hungry, I’m gonna get a snack.” I was frustrated and ran up to the kitchen, grabbed a granola bar and said “Let’s go! Eat it in the car!” He didn’t listen, and ate it there. Then he wanted something to wash it down with.
Finally I got him outside, but he noticed it was chilly.
“I need a jacket.” he said, and walked back inside. I followed him in and grabbed a jacket for him and told him to put it on.
“This looks terrible!”
“Too bad, now let’s go! We’ll be inside so you won’t need it anyway.”
We walked back outside and he saw our green Isuzu Rodeo and was surprised to see it. He began to go over and look at it.
“Dad, get in my car!”
“Come pick me up!” he said as he took a walk around the Isuzu, admiring it. I put my car in reverse and backed it up to be right next to him.
“Okay, Dad, come on.” he walked over, but did not get in the car right away.
“We’re going to the hospital? I don’t think I need to go.”
I was frustrated and firmly said “Get in my car right now.” he listened, got in, and I drove away. My mom called once more and said she would meet us at the hospital.
During the drive I reminded him of many things. It was strange that there was so much he couldn’t remember. I grinned as I asked “Do you know who the president is?”
He said “I’ll have to think about that.” he couldn’t think of who it was.
“Donald Trump.” I said smirking, awaiting his response, which didn’t disappoint me at all.
“What? Donald Trump? You’re messing with me!”
I laughed and said “I wish I was!”
“That’s crazy, I can’t believe that. You really aren’t messing with me?”
“Nope. He really is the president.”
“How did that happen?” He asked.
“I’m not entirely sure…”
I then answered more of his questions, and soon we arrived at the ER, where my mom was waiting outside.
From here on, it was just a lot of waiting, and explaining the issue repeatedly to different ER employees. We didn’t have to wait for too long, we had a room within 15 minutes, where we stayed for about three and a half hours.
He had many tests done and was asked many questions. He had to perform certain tasks such as closing his eyes, raising his arms, and moving his legs. They found his blood pressure was pretty high, which was scary.
I had sent a Snapchat to a couple friends saying that I was scared, and explaining what was going on. I had an outpouring of support and concern from my friends. This was comforting, knowing there are many people who care about me and my family.
After about an hour, I realized that I was famished. I was hungry when I left work, but then adrenaline kicked in from the situation, so I didn’t feel the hunger for a short while. My friend had offered to get us some food, so I took her up on this generous offer. I expressed as much gratitude as I could when she ordered us Chinese food and had it delivered to us.
It took a while to get there because the delivery guy went to the wrong hospital. By the time he got to us I was shaking from hunger. Needless to say, I scarfed down a large amount of lo mein, vegetable, and tofu, until I was satiated.
I left around 10PM. I got home to a cold, empty house. I was worried sick, but I tried to reassure myself it would be okay. It was okay last time, and it would be this time as well. My mom came home about an hour later, and I fell asleep soon and was riddled with bizarre dreams.
When I woke up, I remembered my dad was in the hospital all alone. I didn’t know if he could remember anything yet. I lay in bed fretfully, wondering if he was scared, knowing he must be so confused, and we weren’t there to explain things. Guilt rushed in. Shortly after, my mom let me know she was heading over to be with him.
She is there now and he seems to be doing better. He has no recollection of the day yesterday, but many memories have returned to him, which makes me feel better. We don’t know exactly what happened and if it was another case of TGA, but hopefully soon he’ll be home with us again, and we’ll have some answers.
I think from hereon my mom and I will be on his case about taking vitamins and supplements, and eating food that is good for the brain, such as blueberries, nuts, fish and eggs. I’m sure for a little while we will be afraid to leave him on his own, but I firmly believe everything will return to its normal state.