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 Sophia's Choice

I received a call from my good friend Penelope today. I always enjoy spending time with her and her husband, Jim, when I visit the town in which they live.  A more lively, fun and loving couple you will never find.  I looked forward to a night at a local Italian bistro, alternately laughing and solving all the problems of the world in one evening.   Penelope called to tell me that they will not be in town when I visit next week.   The reason is that they will be traveling to Penelope’s hometown to see her mother and her mother’s doctors.   I have met Penelope’s mother Sophia and I will tell you that this apple did not fall far from the tree.  At 86, Sophia will wear out visitors who are decades younger than her (like me) as she whips around town playing tour guide.  Recently, however, after months of pain in her side, Sophia found out that she will soon need to consider having hip replacement surgery. The reason that Penelope and Jim are flying home is their concern over what happened when Sophia’s two sisters had surgeries necessitating the use of anesthesia.  Both had mild forms of dementia which Penelope, Jim and Sophia are convinced became more severe after these surgeries. This condition now has an official name, which is post-operative cognitive dysfunction. It is sometimes called POCD.

In so many cases, family caregivers have to make these important decisions without the benefit of being able to involve their loved ones; but in this case, Sophia will have the final say. Undergo the surgery and potentially risk her sharp cognition (just try and win a game of Gin Rummy when she is playing) or continue to live with the constant pain in her side.  I leave it to this family to exhibit all the traits of being fearless caregivers; research and keep asking questions until they are satisfied with the answers, and don’t take the easy answers at face value. 

Because, when all is said and done, even though they are working together to ensure that it is an educated one, it is still Sophia’s choice.


Gary Barg

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