My Mom has been worried about my Dad's health lately (he turns 70 in October). She sent this email to me and my siblings the other day.
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.
Thought it the best way to convey my thoughts, observations about your Dad.
We have read the drafts for our trust, power of attorney, health care directive and will set up the appointment to have notarized today. Glad that is more or less taken care of.
I am awaiting a call from DMV to set Dad up with an appointment for a behind the wheel test. It is challenging to get such an appointment -- it seems since I have tried about 10 times only to be told unavailable, both on internet and phone. Testy!
When Dad came back from LA he asked if I thought he should have a doctor appointment about some of his memory problems. I said yes and we set it up. Previously he asked if I thought he had Alzheimer's. I said no, but thought he had had some mini strokes like his Mom and that a doctor might prescribe some meds or suggest some diet changes.
I made up a list of problems and showed to Dad before the appointment. He said he would give to the doctor. He did not dispute any item. Later he said I should go in to the doctor's office with him so I did.
Here is my note to the doctor:
August 23, 2012
Regarding my husband:
Toughs it out all the time!
Concerns about these symptoms:
Shortness of breath, tiredness, rapid breathing with exertion
Some blocks of memory gone; recent example:
Tuesday we went to Berkeley, a frequent stop. I mentioned a store there and how they had changed it. He said he had no memory of it and did not know what I was talking about. We have seen it more or less monthly for past 15 years.
Some movements seem involuntary (hand twitching)
Walking changes: feet sensitive, painful/balance
Driving: episodes with concentration problems; incidents where pavement markings ignored, vehicles in adjacent lanes not seen
Speech: slurred during some class presentations
Uses wrong word or inappropriate words on occasion
Simple spelling, math challenges, confusion*
I will be available in waiting area if needed.
Suggestions? Blood panel? Cholesterol? Blood pressure?
Thank you, XXXXXX (wife)
*Yesterday your Dad asked how to spell rectangle; he said I'm a complete blank.
So, I'm trying to maintain a balance, be objective, not overreact, protect grandchildren and others, while being sensitive to Dad's independence and any effect on our perceptions. When we got in the doctor's office Dad gave the doctor my list and introduced me. After taking notes and entering in his records doctor said: First, let's rule out Parkinsons and had him walk in the hallway outside the office and did a few tests to his arms, swinging them. I do not know what conclusions he drew, if any. He then said we would concentrate on one problem at this visit and see again in 6 weeks to see how things are going. Next he said, "Are you ready to give up driving?" (I think this took us both by surprise). He said you do not want to be a danger to yourself or others. He then gave Alzheimer's statistics, which I thought might be too high. Like, 40% of people age 70, 60% of those 80 and up are affected. Dad of course said no he is not ready to give up driving and said he drives to Berkeley, etc. all the time and recently drove to LA. The doctor said freeway driving is different than familiar territory. Dad then said my list was only my interpretation* and that when Grandpa was scaring us he was tested. The doctor asked if I would be comfortable with that solution - being tested at DMV. I said yes. The doctor then asked if our affairs are in order, etc. So that is the current situation. I finally got through to an Oakland office of Driver Safety and they said a letter is required by doctor for a test. So I have emailed Dr. XXX with that request.
* I did not "interpret" anything and was waiting for doctor to interpret.
So that's where we are. Dr. XXX did prescribe a cholesterol med which we pick up tomorrow.
This of course could all just be a little "blip" and of minor consequence, but thought a full disclosure would clear the air. And, maybe Dr. XXX was just trying to insert a "possibility" that driving may not be an option at some future date and the test would ease my mind.
Rather a difficult week.
Needless to say, this email made me burst into tears. I can't stand that my Mom sent this email out with a DO NOT REPLY TO THIS message. But I guess I should be grateful that she has communicated with us about my Dad's health concerns AT ALL, seeing as when I was a teenager I found out my Mom had breast cancer via a family friend. @#$%!*&!@#$%!
Seeing as MY communication skills aren't all that great, I am not sure what else to write here. I guess I am feeling what anyone would feel if they received this kind of information about a loved one. :[