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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

« Fireworks are pretty, but also loud. | Main | More about what pisses me off. »

It can now be revealed.

Now that my father is safely returned to the homestead, being lovingly tended to by his devoted family, I can make fun of him.

But first, a word or two for those of you who might soon have a parent in the hospital. If your parent is over 65, no matter how vigorous or youthful they may appear, they will be described by the hospital staff as “elderly.” You may scoff at this. My parent is not some addled 90-year-old gumming his tapioca pudding! you may say to the doctors, as I did, and they will smile indulgently at you and continue to refer to your vigorous youthful parent as Elderly. Breathe and let it go. Whoooosh. There!

Okay, so the “elderly”—well, they’re a colorful bunch. Apparently they are prone to developing something called ICU delirium. Which means that the blinky-blinkiness of the lights and the constant beeping of the monitors and the nurses prodding them 24/7 seriously messes with their sleep/waking cycles, and they go (and I’m going to use a technical term here), completely fucking nuts. Now, I’m telling you this because when my father began to behave, ahem, colorfully!, our doctors did not clue us into this. They didn’t explain that this happens all the time. They cheerfully referred to my father as “psychotic” and when we asked, “But why, doctors? Why?” they shrugged and said, damned if we know! Whoops!

I don’t know what led them to do this, except some sadistic streak running through the staff of Mt. Sinai. They watched us as we scurried about, wringing our hands and knitting our brows, and they chortled darkly. Luckily I have a good friend in the medical profession (hi, Mike! Hi!) and he kindly took my 8 a.m. phone calls and explained the matter to me as if I were not, in fact, an idiot. Thanks, Mike!

At the time, when my dad had just woken up only to reveal that he was batshit insane, my mom kept prodding me to write about it in my blog. “Hey, you should write how he said [insert hilarity that could only be concocted by the insane here]! That’s some funny stuff, what he said!”

“Well, mother, I suppose, but wouldn’t that be disrespectful of our poor ailing patriarch?”

“What could he say about it? He’s so nuts, he believes that [insert witty delusion here]. Haw, haw!”

[Note: the above conversation was edited to make me sound good and my mother sound bad. Also, my mother never once said “Haw, haw” in her life. No one says that, except the heathens in Jack Chick publications. Please alert me if you have evidence to the contrary.]

[But she did want me to make fun of him. Just for the record. Because crazy people is funny.]

After a few days of wacky nuttiness, the Father regained his mental clarity, and we rejoiced. And then he said some things that made me laugh with him, and not at him. Because he is a funny man, even when sane. At one point he asked my mom to shave him. “But it looks like the nurse has been shaving you already,” my mom observed. To which my father rolled his eyes and responded, “Do you know how they shave you, here? They dump ice water over your head, and when you stop screaming, they start shaving.”

At another point, he was mocking a roommate he had suffered for a few days—a whiner who had to loudly regale anyone in his presence with the details of his aches and pains. I guess over the course of a day or two, the whiner had also revealed himself to be an idiot. And my father said, “It boggles the mind, how such a person can be smart enough to live. How does he have the mental capacity to get through the day? To simply leave the house and find a sandwich?

I am glad you're no longer with the idiots, Dad. Or at least, now you're with the idiots you know.

Reader Comments (54)

i personaly suffered from hospital psychosisalthough there is a lot to laugh about for them who are visiting. but for some of the sufferers it is quite difficult for them to define truth or elusion. in my case this lasted for four weeks. the previous year my mother suffered with it. and it was hard then to see what she was going through.i am looking for some web sites to try and find out more information on this subject
March 21, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdavid
My 86 year old mom just had a couple of these "episodes" in the last couple of days. I noticed what we had spoken about the day before tied into her delusions. Boy it's scary, especially knowing her mother died from senility. She actually hit the nurse with the telephone!! I'm hoping today is OK. Thanks for helping to put me at ease regarding these episodes!!

April 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
So glad I found MIL just got home today from surgery and is sure that the CIA is after her; She checked my husband for wires everytime he visited and was sure the HealthNet was the president coming to get her. I hope it doesn't last...but I'm writing things down so we can tease her later..
April 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
As a critical care nurse I found your take on your father's psychosis and his stay in an ICU completely hilarious!
July 30, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteranita

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