Monkey Chatter
Written by
Julie Jeffs
January 2011
Written by
Julie Jeffs
January 2011
That is what dad is calling the thoughts he has in his racing mind as he lays in the hospital bed drifting in and out of sleep. Memories of jobs from 40 years ago during his career as an electrical engineer. Talk of Cal Tech and Richard Fineman, his favorite physicist. Recalling his parents who raised him and his sister during the depression. But the fear is in that monkey chatter as well. For a man almost 84 who has always been independent and able to care for himself, this is not a fun time. Up until this hospital stay he has lived on his own since my mother’s death thirteen years ago. A move from the sierra foothills of California to Phildelphia. Closer to a daughter in a town with lots of culture, and sports and family, and great public transportation. Dad decided for himself that he didn’t need or want to drive anymore. He didn’t like driving, it was stressful and, he began to feel, dangerous. Before he moved, the lymphoma diagnosis had been made. But it was a very slow growing lymphoma and the treatment was likely worse than the almost non-existent symptoms he had, so there was no treatment, just monitoring. In the last two months his back pain returned with a vengeance. Along with it came just a general sense of just feeling bad, and then a lack of appetite and who likes to cook when you just aren’t hungry? But, he’s nearing 84 and the lack of appetite turned into not eating or drinking enough fluids and a major weight loss. The back pain required pain medication, and plenty of it which in turn created its own set of problems. And the previously diagnosed lymphoma turned acute. The narcotic pain meds meant he could not stay at home alone, they would make even the seasoned addict loopy. Staying with a sister until hospitalization was necessary. Dad worries about being a burden, about people having to care for him. He feels fear about how his life will look in the immediate future and beyond. There is no explaining that we want to be here with him, that we don’t mind and he shouldn’t either. But there is still that incessant monkey chatter. Hard to tell if it will be a pleasant memory or reminders of his lack of independence. He is smart. He knows he needs to have the antibiotics so he doesn’t get pneumonia. He can tell himself that this is temporary. It hurts to watch him struggle and worry and hate being here. I want to tell him, rest dad, tomorrow is another day, it will get better. I wish I knew how to make the monkey chatter stop.

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