My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. – Mark Twain
When I was about four or five years old, my mother took me to the doctor office. In the Fiftys antibiotics were given like aspirin. With every sniffle or a cough an injection of the new medicine, penicillin, was injected in my behind. Also, in those days my doctor didn’t use disposable needles. So, those needles sitting in the alcohol bath weren’t always sharp. I dreaded the injections with the large-bore needles.
One day, Mother loaded my twin brother and me into the car under the pretense of going grocery shopping, and we headed to the doctor office. Upon arriving, we recognized the building and became quiet. Mother said she wanted to see the office as it was recently remodeled. We didn’t believe her. We began to cry and say we didn’t want to go to the doctor.
Mother continued her ruse while getting out of the car. Two crying boys in the back seat now panicked and locked the doors. The keys hung in the ignition. My embarrassed mother was locked outside as a passerby smiled. Once the lady passed, Mother told me to unlock the door, or I’d be spanked. Realizing the futility, I slowly pulled up the lock. As we marched toward the door, we knew our mother had misled us.
These days I take mother to the doctor. Or should I say, doctors? I take her to the gerontologist, neurologist, rheumatologist, and psychologist. In the last few months, she’s had laboratory tests for blood work, two different barium swallow tests, CAT scan, PET scan, and two ultrasounds. All this and she hates going to the doctor.
When younger, she never hesitated to take me to the doctor, but she never liked going for herself. Once, she was told by our family doctor her problem was “nerves” and “in her head.” Since then, she seldom went to the doctor for her own ailments.
Though Mother has dementia, she still remembers her distaste for doctors. So, it is always a challenge to get her to cooperate. Like me as a five-year-old locking the car door to avoid the doctor visit, she resists. She says, “there’s nothing wrong with me, I don’t need to go to the doctor.”
I reply, “Well you have an appointment because (fill in the reason).” To wit, she responds, “There’s nothing they will do for me. Doctors just want your money.”
Sometimes Mother accepts her fate and willingly submits. On other occasions, I must redirect. Since she has a memory that lasts only a few minutes, I can wait a few minutes and start over. This time I tell her we are going out for lunch. Once in the doctor’s parking lot, I say that following the doctor visit we will go to lunch. She will grumble but allows me to take her inside.
As we make our way to the front door, I think of our role reversal. As a child, I learned to accept her authority and trusted her judgment. These many years later, I must make the decisions for her health care. Sometimes she resists, but I must insist.
Correct your son, and he will give you comfort…- Proverbs 29-17 NASB
Solomon wrote this proverb to remind parents they must discipline their children. For a comfortable home, there must be order. Mother took the time to teach and punish me, and I learned to respect her. I don’t resent it but appreciate it. Therefore, I am now her caregiver and comfort in her old age, as Solomon predicted.
© 2018 Ronald Milburn