They Tied My Dad To His Bed

As a Gen X woman it’s my turn to care for my aging dad. But when I saw him bound and drugged, I didn’t know if I could.

L.L. Kirchner
ILLUMINATION
Published in
8 min readDec 24, 2021

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Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay.

The first time I saw my father tied to a bed in four-point restraints, his wrists and ankles raw and bruising where he’d chafed at his bonds, my heart broke a little. What must it have been like for him to see me? But he hadn’t.

The times I’d been physically and chemically restrained, I was alone; my incidents predicated by an abuse of drugs and alcohol and escapism. And while it’s impossible to be sure — especially now, decades after the fact — I believe that abuse was what got me strapped to various beds. I’ve not been kept against my will anywhere since I stopped.

Substance abuse is not my father’s issue. A lifelong health enthusiast, he bought a health club that he ran for the final 35 years of his career. This past September, at 85, he had a seizure. His first. The doctors have not diagnosed a cause, and it’s likely Dad has made their efforts more difficult. In this we are very much alike.

Standing over six feet tall, until mid-September he’d been living on his own. He maintained an enormous yard, did his shopping and cooking, and still worked out five days a week. During his first hospital stay, he clawed and kicked at his bonds till they added giant padded mittens. He went at those with his teeth, struggling to pull his hand to his jaw to bite mitt. As his mind started coming back, he asked repeatedly for knives or scissors.

Though we don’t live in the same state, I happened to be in town for a friend’s wedding when he collapsed. That visit was the first time I’d seen him since before the pandemic. He was a little dotty, and we joked about how much time he spent in the bathroom, but otherwise he seemed well. I was already in airport departures when I got word he’d collapsed in the hospital’s parking garage. Coincidentally, he’d been at an appointment with their dental school for a cleaning.

In the time it took me to get a car and get to the hospital, Dad was catheterized, heavily sedated, and already tied to the bed.

Aghast, I raced to the hall to look for a doctor, but there were none to be found. What was everywhere…

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L.L. Kirchner
ILLUMINATION

I write entertaining stories that sneak up on you. Florida Girls, my new novel, comes out May 28! Stay abreast of it all at IllBehavedWomen.com.