Monday, December 19, 2005

Conversation with a very old man

This conversation took place between me and an old man suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, which caused him to have a severe dementia (loss of memory)

I was examining how bad his symptoms were

Hareega : "When did the bleeding start sir?
Patient: "I think i had it for a very long time" - his nursing home said it was 2 days only.
Hareega: "Sir do you have a family I can talk to?"
Patient : "I don't know" - and he smiled
Hareega: "I mean do you have a wife, daughters, sons....etc??"
Patient "I don't know" - now he started laughing.
Hareega : "Do you know where are you now sir?"
Patient "Mississippi" - we were in Arizona
Hareega : "Ok Sir do you know who is the president?"- common question to test general knowledge

Patient smiling "yes it's Ronald Reagan"
and as if he realzied he was wrong, so he asked me "No?? Not Reagan?? What happened to him?"

I avoided answering because Reagan died of Alzheimer's Disease and I didn't want to upset my patient, but then i thought hell what he's gonna forget my answer pretty soon.

I left the room and called the nursing home to get more details about his condition and check whether or not he has a family. I felt so sorry for this man and how he is unable to remember over 80 years in his life and the close people he knew and lived with for a very long time.

We figured out later that he had colon cancer which cannot be removed and it would kill him in months. We tried to contact his family for a long time but couldn't reach any for over 2 weeks.

I used to feel pity for that man but now I feel he is so lucky he cannot remember anything. He can't remember his so-called family who have not asked about him for a long time, he can't know when will he die or how bad his disease is. He started living life day by day just like children who don't think of the future. Probably by the time he dies he'll think that the hospital is his house and the patient in the next bed is his brother and the doctors are his children.

I used to feel pity for him but now I feel pity for myself.

(P.S. the picture above is for a different patient, stolen from google)


Nas said...

isnt that strange how we base our emotions on what we think another person is feeling or suffering? yet we have no idea. we pity his situation yet at the same time he does not remember his own situation.

Khalidah said...

Why do you feel pity for yourself?

Hani said...

Yeah, if you are to take my life, then take my memories along with it… I won’t need them…

Sabri Hakim said...

id feel pity if his wife was with him and he didnt remember her, or her kids, still its a sad thought, its chocking to think that this can happen to you...

salam said...

Can I ask what are you specializing in?

Vimto said...

Eee wallah yaa Mr.Fire. Sometimes I think it would a good thing to wake up one morning with total dementia, and start a new life; start creating a new life on a white clean page, no sad memories, no wounds and no scars.

I don't feel so much pity for that old man; he has lived almost 80 years in peace in his homeland and now he is taking care of in a modern hospital. El 7asra 3ala our elderly ppl in Palestine or in Iraq or those who are bel ghorbeh.
Fatta7too jro7i allah laa yewaffe2 el yahood!

jameed said...

"This conversation took place between me and an old man suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, which caused him to have a severe dementia"

do you mean your conversation with him caused him to have dementia? I am glad I haven't talked to you in a couple of weeks...DON'T CALL ME!

Hareega said...

nas... exactly we have to place ourselves in their position. I think all doctors should do that when they deal with any patient. It helps both the doctor and their patient

khalidah.... i feel pity because i still have my memory and sense to know all what's going on with this man, and if i would be in his position soon god forbid i would be fully aware of how the bad situation would be.

hani... strong statement

sabri, exactly man usually the people around these patients are hurt most. the most peoplesuffering are their spouses who've been with the sick people for decades and their partner would look at them not knowing who they are.

salam.. internal medicine going into endocrinology (diabetes and hormone disease)

vimto, there is a psychiatric disorder exactly like what you're saying called dissociative fugue ,look it up it's soooo interesting. It's when someone wakes up and assumes a totally new character and travels far away from his house and totally gets into this new character and even HE himself would forget who he was and all his past. Sooo strange, luckily enough it's uncommon!

iyas.... i'll keep calling u everyday dude, garabah wa law lazem nes2al 3annak :D