Today, September 29th, 2015, I took dad to the doctor. He hurt his foot last weekend, or at least he thought he did. On Monday he told me that he would like to go to the doctor because he hurt his foot. I suggested that we wait to see if it gets better. I figure that if it was just a sprain, it would be a wasted trip to go to the doctor. I suggested he ice it, take some ibuprofen and elevate throughout the day. I wrote him a prescription and put it on the table so he’d remember.
“Ja (pronounced /ya/), I think I twisted it or stepped on something,” he told me, and everyone else who asked him what was wrong with his foot. Sometimes his story would include details like “on the steps” or “while walking across the lawn.” They sounded pretty convincing.
So we finally went to the doctor a week later after his foot didn’t get better. I suspect that he never really iced his foot, elevated, or took ibuprofen, but the swelling wasn’t going away. When I checked his foot a second time, I was actually a little worried because the swelling wasn’t only around his ankle, but on the top of his foot.
We were in driving to the doctor in his big red Mercury, and he started to recall how many times he had been to see her. In reality, he had been to her office twice, but he kept recalling other times that he had gone. By the end of the journey, he had counted seven different visits to the doctor’s office.
I spent an hour in the waiting room while good Doctor Stephenson checked out dad’s foot. He emerged and told me that, “It is gout. She believes it is gout.” And he was beating himself up because he felt like he should have known. Apparently he’s had gout several times before, and as soon as he told the doctor, that’s what she went with. “I do not know why I did not remember gout.”
We drove home, and on the way he pointed out what street we were driving on and the buildings he recognized. He told me over and over how many times he had driven on these roads and how they used to be so familiar. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a place you know that you once knew, but now you didn’t know it at all anymore. I think I got pretty close.