February 15, 2017
Mom had her first appointment with the medical group associated with my daughter’s assisted living (AL) community’s company on Wednesday. The medical group is part of our regional university system, and makes house calls (!).
Traffic, epic in our area, had me on the road for an hour and a half to traverse 23 miles, and I arrived 5 minutes before the appointment. Mom and I found the doctor, who encouraged us to go have breakfast before our meeting, as her schedule was somewhat flexible.
During breakfast mom flexed her prickles, and while eating every bite, relentlessly complained about what she was served (blueberry dense muffins, what looked like a perfect sunny side up egg, and bacon). She cycled on: Being tired of being ‘here’ (the AL community). Wondering, and asking me if ‘they’ would ever let her drive again. I replied that we had to get through the medical exploration first. She astutely asked that if the EEG was negative, did that mean she could return home and drive again. I responded that should the EEG turn out negative, more tests would be done to figure out why she spontaneously lost consciousness behind the wheel of two cars and totaled them… This brought out her, “That happened because I was chronically fatigued due to lack of sleep” excuse. Reminding her of the rescuing ER doc’s observation of her affect, upon fishing her out of the car, had zero influence on mom’s stance. She simply won’t incorporate facts that are contrary to how she wants to present her reality.
The appointment went well in that mom offered up her ‘zero-time’ short term memory for the doctor. Even better, mom accomplished this by switching topics in mid-sentence. I know this isn’t usually considered a good thing, but it saved lots of private, hurried talk between me and the doc. She was able to very quickly see where mom’s level of functioning is. When asked about staying at the AL community, mom said, ‘It’s very nice, but I don’t do anything here. I’m used to chopping wood, etc.’ Another reality bender… She’s busy all day in the community, and she doesn’t chop or split wood. It arrives split.. The doc went through mom’s med list. We talked about monitoring blood pressure for a week to get an average, the possibility of discontinuing cholesterol meds down the road, and the Aricept. Mom, of course, asked what Aricept was for. I let the doctor answer, “It’s to help with memory issues.” Mom replied that she only took/needed it during periods of stress. I stepped in to say she’d been back on it since May. The doctor asked me if family noticed a difference. I replied in the affirmative. This morning I sent the doc mom’s Aricept prescription refill history, per request. There was an 11 month gap, which followed a few months of sketchy refills.
Mom went to put her shoes on at the end of the appointment. I walked the doc back to her office in the community, and told her that the family has seen a large dip in mom’s memory this year, particularly between June and August. She looked at me and said she would consider whether we needed to continue the Aricept. If it’s not helping, there are potential side effects that are contra indicated… I didn’t ask what those side effects are, but rather said I’d leave that decision up to the doctors and Daughter #2. Yes, I regularly practice medicine without a license, but this is way out of my Band-Aid league. The doctor did agree with me that my mother is certainly not safe living on her own. It was a relief to Not have to press a case for this observation.