I went and had some Mexican food for dinner tonight. It is my comfort food. Nothing like cheese enchildas and a heaping helping of frijoles to help. But every time someone there asked me how I was I could hear how tight and manufactured my pleasant “I’m great, how are you’s” sounded. I know at least one saw the tears in my eyes as it hit me full force that I’m going to loose my dad and I’m going to loose him long before he dies.
After months and months of trying by hook or crook to get my mother to help my father get a diagnosis on his memory loss and cognitive thought process, after being accused of lying and fabricating events, after being ignored and pooh poohed I finally had a heart to heart with my father. See, mom wanted to keep it all this big old secret so most of those conversations happened because she would call me and vent and disseminate. She didn’t want to make him mad. In her defense it is not a crazy concern. Dad has been known for his rages. But darn it!
All it took was one conversation with my dad and two days later he was talking to his doctor about Alzheimer’s. He has diabetes and has suffered from repeated TIA strokes for some time now. Everyone kept saying his symptons were related to the diabetes and the TIA’s. That was all they would look at. I don’t know why but I just wasn’t buying it. Something kept niggling at me and nudging me. It has beenso frustrating.
After questioning my dad thoroughly on Tuesday his doc prescribed him Aricept, a popular and fairly new medication for memory loss. It is marketed as an Alzheimer’s medication. There is no test to prove that one has Alzheimer’s. It is similar to alcoholism. You just have to look at all the facts and eventually conclude that that is what is going on and take the necessary steps to arrest the disease as much as possible. Both are fatal diseases but alcoholism, if one practices abstention, doesn’t have to kill you. Alzheimer’s kills you. 6th most common cause of death. There is no remission, no turning back.
We all have to die of something. Life is a fatal disease if you want to take the cynic’s view point. You can’t be born and not die. Adam lived 930 years and Noah lived 950 years. Old as Methuselah? That was 969 years. Dad won’t be so lucky.
It is quite possible that the medication has been found useful for other causes of memory loss. Right now there is no definitive diagnosis from his doctor that this is what is going on. She has not said the fated words, “You have Alzheimer’s.” It is entirely possible that the meds will help with memory loss not related to Alzheimer’s but it is certainly marketed as the treatment of ALZ. I’m looking at the results of all my months of nagging tonight and it sucks.
My dad is well aware of his memory loss problems. Recently it has gotten pretty bad, sped up as it were (a definite sympton, the speed) and he and I have spoken of his frustration about this. His mother’s death certificate says she died of diabetes and until dad saw that certificate he didn’t know she had it. Her last 5-6 years were spent in dementia. So was my dad’s dad. The other day dad had no recollection of that for either of his parents. Luckily (?) I had plenty of stories. I think that was what finally got him to talk to his doctor about this. But until I spoke with him this past weekend, he had never considered it as a possibility.
My mother refused to look at it and it was clear that she had never spoken of this with him. She would respond to my requests with “Thanks for the advice.” “Mom, it’s not advice, I’m requesting, begging, that you ask about this.” And she wouldn’t. I love her but right now I don’t like her even though I understand why she is who she is.
My mom and I have had some pretty big dustups in the last couple months. She has accused me, not to me but to my brother who passes on her claims, of lying and fabricating events. She tells me she won’t talk to me about her own health any more, drama and trauma. I told her I don’t want to talk to her about dad’s health until dad can’t talk about it himself any more. But she persists. Today was another surrepticious, sneaky phone call and as soon as dad walked in the front door she was all, “I gotta go.” I’m so done with these games I’ve hung up on her twice in the past two weeks. I hate having this between us when we really need to band together. She is the family member most in denial over the years. Of whatever she feels she needs to be in denial about. Mostly she denies that she is part of the problem. Goddess help me, it’s going to be rough if I have to fight her every step of the way.
I went to the library before hitting the restaurant because I knew that I needed some books to keep my mind busy. So I have books to keep me from the hamster on the wheel that lives in my cranium.
For 2, and only 2, seconds the thought of ordering a drink at the restaurant ran through my head. Not a worrisome thing, alcoholics drink and to think of it is normal. In one ear and out the other. It was more like “Thanks for the information, you are right, I don’t want to feel this right now.” I know I’m not alone, that there is support, but I found myself wishing that The Chicken Man would hurry. It would help so much to lie next to someone I love and trust in the dark and just be comforted. To cry in someone’s arms. To be held and there there’d. Because I? Have to feel this. There are no other options.
I feel so alone right now.