(Snippets from the frontline)
The patient was angry. He lived in assisted living and was acting out against other residents. I was called to de-escalate the tension…which means give him drugs.
Connecting with a new patient is important, and I found he had been a janitor at a nearby high school in south Los Angeles where I grew up. Because of a recent stroke, this widower was frustrated by expressive aphasia – not being able to say words he wanted to say.
One mode of communication was to have him write out his needs. He couldn’t do this. As I explored others possibilities, I realized his hidden secret: “You don’t know how to read or write, do you?” Tears welled in his eyes as he nodded yes.
His daughter, an attorney in a nearby valley was surprised, but agreed as it clarified difficulties her father experienced in life.
She and the patient’s 8 year old granddaughter became more frequent visitors to the facility. Finally, his daughter decided to have him live with her family.
Just before the patient moved and my last remembrance, he sat calmly with his granddaughter in front of a book, as she was teaching him to read.
No drugs. Just love.
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.