Mikey’s father has Parkinson’s disease: ‘But my father pretends everything is fine’

Zwartwit foto van Maaike Olde Olthof

It’s hard to admit that he’s lonely. The doctor asked: “Do you get around people a lot, do you spend a lot of time outside?” My father said: “Yes.” “No,” my brother corrected. Later he asked me, “What is it about wanting to look better in front of the doctor?” But I don’t think it has anything to do with pretending to be better. It’s more of a denial of what’s really going on.

Last week I tried to figure out what my father had written on paper, how he might want palliative care or euthanasia. I don’t want to have to go through what happened to my mother and her again. Dad avoided the topic and started talking about things like CPR. But older people with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s rarely die of cardiac arrest.

People like my father become trapped in the body, so to speak, so pneumonia or a broken hip must happen first before a surviving relative faces the difficult task of making a life or death decision. At the same time, it is difficult for Dad to face the sad truth. Accept that you are physically failing, that driving is no longer an option, and that you are slowly losing your voice. This is not easy. Certainly not if you’ve always been independent like him.

“How’s the doctor?” Puck asked Grandpa when we got home. “Very well,” he replied. I waited for the follow-up, which did not happen, and I added myself: “But the dose of the medicine will increase.” So we have to be careful so that Grandpa doesn’t become more sleepy. “Don’t worry,” my father said dryly. “You don’t have to go anywhere either.”

When I called him today, he suddenly seemed to have a cold and flu. “I’ll be back after work,” I say. “I have to go shopping anyway. Can I get you anything else?” “Yes, I still need a carton of whole milk, double custard, regular custard, and chocolate milk.” Once I get to the supermarket, I also put some fruit, broth and chicken soup in the basket. He’s not the only stubborn person in the family. Plus, I want Dad to be able to say goodbye for a long time.

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