Dec 31, 2014

Ed’s Creative Attempt to Get Vodka in His Nursing Home!

“I don’t need you!” he shouted. “I will find someone else to get it for me. And you can be sure. I will r-r-remember this!” he said, shaking his finger at me.

By Marie Marley
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Alzheimer’s Journal:  Ed’s Creative Attempt to Get Vodka in His Nursing Home!
One day I went to visit Ed, my beloved Romanian soul mate of thirty years, at the wonderful Alois Alzheimer Center in Cincinnati.

When it was time for his dinner I left, walking him to the dining room on my way out. As we got closer, that evening’s entrée – meatloaf – smelled so tantalizing I wished I could stay for dinner, but the staff never invited me to stay and I’d never seen any family members eating there. So I resigned myself to eating at home.

“Marie, please. Bring me two bottles of Popov tomorrow,” Ed said sweetly as we passed the dining room.

“Ed. I can’t,” I said, my body stiffening in anticipation of the ugly scene I knew would follow. “You’re not allowed to have vodka here.”

“What do you mean, I’m not allowed vodka to have?” he asked incredulously.

He stopped walking and glared at me.

“This is America! I’m allowed to have anything I want!”

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“I’m sorry, Ed,” I said, my voice wavering. “I can’t bring you any. That’s the rule here.”

In a flash he became livid, yelling so loudly I was sure everyone in Assisted Living could hear.

“I don’t need you!” he shouted. “I will find someone else to get it for me. And you can be sure. I will r-r-remember this!” he said, shaking his finger at me.

I winced at his outburst. I didn’t want a major scene and I knew I couldn’t win that battle, so, as much as it hurt, I turned my back on him and rushed out. I felt embarrassed as I passed Alice, the aide who was setting the tables.

I slowed a moment and tried to save face by whispering, “He’s just mad because I won’t bring him any vodka.”

“Uh oh!” she said, making light of it and smiling. I had the distinct feeling she was trying to lessen my embarrassment.

I left feeling tremendously hurt and went out to my car. As I drove home, I felt sorry for Ed. I knew how much he needed his vodka and I wondered if he’d ever adjust to not having it.

I began feeling guilty. I’d put him someplace where he couldn’t even have a drink. As a penniless political refugee from Romania, he’d given up everything to come to America just to be a free man. Yet he was going to spend the rest of his life in a secured facility.

What have I done?

A few hours later Ed called and, as though nothing had happened between us, cheerfully asked me the address of “this place where I am ‘leev-ing.’”

Digging in my wallet to find the social worker’s card, I was pleased. I thought it was a good sign that he wanted to be oriented and know where he was. I told him the address and he repeated it one letter and number at a time, leading me to think he was writing it down, which I also thought was a good thing.

The minute I hung up I got it.

Oh, no! He’s going to call Mr. Ellington to take him to buy some vodka.

I dialed Ellington’s cell as fast as my fingers would move and explained the situation. Mr. Ellington, Ed’s cab driver friend, promised to tell Ed his cab had broken down and it would take him a few days to get there. Mr. Ellington was a dear.

I must admit, however, I was pleased Ed was still alert enough to figure out how to try to get some vodka. I checked with Ellington later and found out that Ed had indeed called him.

A few days later I met briefly with Michelle, the Director of Nursing.

“By the way, Michelle, you’ll never guess what Ed did the other night,” I began. “He tricked me into giving him this address and then he called a cab to take him to buy some vodka. Fortunately, I had the cab driver’s cell phone number so I called and told him not to come. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had his number.”

“Oh, Marie,” she said, leaning against her office doorway, laughing so hard tears were streaming down her face. “Don’t ever worry about anything like that. We’d never let Ed go out without calling you first.”

Then I burst into laughter, too.

Come Back Early Today:
A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy

Marie Marley
Marie Marley, PhD, was a caregiver for Dr. Edward Theodoru, her delightfully colorful, wickedly eccentric Romanian soul mate, for seven years. After he passed away in 2007, she wrote an award-winning book about their relationship, Come Back Early Today: A Story of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy. In the course of narrating their 30-year love story, Marie illustrates the solutions she found to 14 different issues that typically arise when loving and caring for someone with dementia. You can visit Marie’s website which contains a wealth of information about caregiving at ComeBackEarlyToday.

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