For the last maybe five-six years of his life, my father used a pair of pliers like these
I have just opened one of the bottles of Coca Cola that my father asked me to bring him when I visited him on the night the hospital had called me and told me he was in the emergency ward. They asked if I could come and said that my father asked that I bring something. Yes, I said, what else apart from his computer does he need? The nurse said: He is pointing towards his mouth. Sir, do you want food? No? Dentures? Dentures! He wants his dentures. He also said to bring other things which I cannot presently remember.
He had pressed his emergency button, which was attached to a small chain and intended to hang around his neck in case of emergency. An ambulance had come and brought him to the hospital.
My girlfriend and I had visited him the night before, where he seemed very weak. As I remember it, he didn’t try to cough. But I remember being sad on the way home and sad at home.
When I reached his apartment to pick up stuff for him, I saw this message on his computer monitor, in an unsaved Word-document:
I cant cough up mucus and need a coughing machine now. The blue book is behind the radiator. Can you help me? I have als. First time. N18
It is his correspondance with the ambulance staff. I think “the blue book” is a binder with information about his care needs that he wanted them to bring. N18 is the neurology ward that he was under, but they didn’t take him there. They took him first to the emergency ward, sucked mucus out of his lungs and called me.
I saved the unsaved Word document on his computer. I went into the kitchen and took a small clear plastic bag from the drawer, drew it inside out, put my hand in it, poured the glass with his dentures in water out into the sink, picked up the dentures and turned the plastic bag outside in, tied a knot on it and continued collecting stuff for him. Each day the following week we revised a list I kept of things he needed me to do for him. Then things looked brighter. Then they turned worse.
The day after they had moved him to the lung ward. I visited him there every day and slept there the last 2 nights. His first neighbor, “the neanderthal” my father called him at first and then, after he saw his face, “Rasputin”, who kept him awake for the three first nights of his stay by MOANING and PUKING and GURGLING. The man had a big beard, spoke no words, was an uncooperative nuisance to the nurses and an exhausting hell to my father. One day when my girlfriend and I visited him, my father had prepared a small explanatory text about his neighbour, which the synthetic voice in the tablet computer he used for communication read aloud, I won’t try to find it right now, but it contained stuff like:
He is very angry. Sometimes I wonder why the nurses don’t slap him in the face.
I will go further with these subjects later.