The Granddaughter / Doctor

by Shruti Chakravarthy, MSIV


He lives in California, now; a stark contrast to where he spent most of his life. He used to be a civil engineer working for an English company. It amazes me to think he was a young boy during WWII, living in a soon-to-be-overthrown English colony. I've seen where he has left his mark; his life's work splashed across the colorful cities of the subcontinent. He used to sheepishly admit to being "one of the boys" at work: smoking and having a drink here and there. Grandma never knew, of course. "It's the English influence; they brought with them all of these habits!" he would exclaim. When I was young, he used to pick me up and prop me on his moped. Then, we would explore all the hidden nooks of the city. As his memory slowly slips away, I like to bring him back to that place. And willingly he follows, as if drawn to a light amid the shadows in his mind. He has known for a while I'm in medical school now, studying in New York. But every time we talk, he asks me when I'm coming to visit him. Every. Single. Time. It's a good thing he doesn't feel as bad asking as I do answering.

Patient is an 84 YO male with PMH of HTN, ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis, BPH, and mild dementia presenting to ED with AMS and SOB x 1day. As per patient's daughter, patient has not been acting himself since he started a psych med last month that was meant to help him sleep. Acute change in mental status was noticed over last 24 hours associated with SOB and productive cough…

"Hi Thatha*! How are you feeling?"

Have you experienced any acute events overnight?

"Did you eat what aunty made? It looked really good!"

Any changes to your appetite?

"How is your breathing?"

Any SOB? Have they given you an incentive spirometer?

"Did you speak to the doctor?"

I have yet to see a doctor come by. I'll speak to them when they do.

"Did you walk around today?"

Has Physical Therapy come to see you? Has anyone been walking you?

"What have you been doing during the day?"

Have they been sitting you up in bed? Moving you to your chair? Washing you? Giving you your meds?

"Did you sleep well?"

Why are they still giving him that antidepressant at night? Don't they realize it makes him agitated during day? I WANT to speak to someone!

"Do you tell the nurse when you need to use the bathroom?"

He has MILD dementia. He KNOWS when he has to go, and can walk slowly with assistance. Can't anyone help him? Don't ignore him and put a diaper on him because "he's demented." Come on!

84 years of family, friends, war, peace, and world travel.
84 years of heartfelt care, kindness, love, loss, and wisdom.
84 years… reduced to this?




*Thatha: Grandfather


Supplemental Note from the author: "This is quite a personal story of something I was experiencing at the time, and still am right now."