Chris Wilkinson column: The goodness of people

It started the first Tuesday morning in September.

By Chris Wilkinson

Just two short months ago in summery August (yeah, things changed fast) I wrote about my dad and our trip to the barber. It’s not just the weather that changed fast. Only a couple of weeks later my dad hit a steep cognitive decline and ended up in hospital and has been there since. It’s difficult to talk about, yet I feel gratitude in this predicament as well.

It started the first Tuesday morning in September. The first day back to school for my boys — and dad was also scheduled for a public nurse assessment at his home that morning. I showed up 30 minutes early for the meeting with a few groceries for dad and knew instantly something was wrong, big time! I hit stress response mode fast! The moment I turned the corner to dad’s house I could see his vehicle was missing. Dad had his licence revoked a few months earlier! He knew he wasn’t to drive, but his cognitive decline (and me not getting all the keys!) led to a scary incident.

I drove around downtown looking for him, unsuccessfully, and then ended up back at his place for the appointment time to meet the public health nurse. It was literally 45 seconds after I met her and started explaining to her that I didn’t know where dad was that the RCMP called. The RCMP informed me that my dad had driven there, and he was reporting that someone was trying to harm him. That a male had entered his residence and threatened him and hit him. I got off my phone and was in that surreal state where my head was spinning for sure. Dad’s hallucinations got the best of him. I shared what I was told with the public health nurse and I’ll never forget what she said next. “Would you like me to come down there with you?” It was a massive display of compassion and care. It was that moment where the goodness in people wins over stress and worry. A gesture so kind and caring that I immediately felt more at ease. An immediate “sure!” came out of me.

It was a good thing the public health nurse came with me, too. She was able to hear the RCMP share the full story about dad and his stories. She was able to call the hospital and help dad get admitted to Emergency. And her experience with my dad that morning likely shared more with her than any interview in his living room could have done. She is an amazing person to do what she did that day, and for her career. Thank you Cindy.

While it has been a real roller coaster ride and a challenge with dad’s dementia, stories and hallucinations the last seven weeks, I’m still grateful for the amazingly caring people who I’ve met along this journey. From Cindy the public health nurse, the RCMP officers, Seniors Outreach Team, and the awesome team in the ER at CDH, to the friendly staff on the unit in CDH where dad is for the time being that take good care of him.

While dad won’t get to go to the place he has called home, I know dad will continue to meet and be cared for by compassionate caregivers and nurses as he progresses on his journey. There are so many good people in our health care system. Thank you to each and every one of you.

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

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