Thank you to everyone for your kind comments, texts and emails. They made me feel less alone in this journey into the unknown that I am taking.
I was so hopeful when I took Dad to that psychogeriatrician. I was sure my worries were over. I imagined a kindly magician who would take all responsibility out of my hands. He’d smile at me as he pulled a rabbit from his hat, saw my father in half and put him back together properly. I’d thank him, my father and I would sweep from the room and go out for coffee.
Instead I got a prescription for risperidone, an antipsychotic drug. My reading had told me that this should be a last resort not the first. But I hoped – oh how I hoped – that these pills would contain the magic we so badly needed. So I ignored these doubts and my obedient, trusting dad began taking them.
There was no magic. Dad’s sleep was worse than ever and he was more confused at night than he had been, wandering around the apartment, emptying drawers, looking for things he couldn’t name.
And the side effects, like wicked fairies gatecrashing the ball, came bringing their unwelcome gifts: stiff legs that made walking even more difficult than usual, tremors in his hands that sloshed his tea in its mug. And worst of all incessant meaningless talk that poured out of him, accompanied by greater confusion than before.
It tore my heart to watch him struggle with thoughts that he couldn’t marshall, a world gone strange and to know it was my doing, if not my fault. I stroked his white hair, kissed his cheeks, while the knowledge of my complicity in his situation twisted in my belly.
A week after my father began the drug I rang the doctor and we took him off it. We were back where we started.
This evening he’ll begin taking Avanza, an antidepressant that apparently helps with sleeping.
I don’t hope for magic any more. I know magic tricks are only sleight of hand. I have my fingers crossed that this medication will grant him a few hours sleep each night. That would be something.