Letter to Neuropsychologist
Dear Dr. Roads,
The path that leads us to you is almost four years long, longer really, and, of course, complicated. I’ll bullet point what I think are the most relevant details for your quick consumption:
- August 2004: My father and I start talking about mom’s ‘state of mind.’
- December 2004: Dad is diagnosed with AML and spends the next 9 years fighting the good fight; Mom walks a shallow, downhill cognitive path.
- February 2013: Dad enters the hospital with pneumonia. After returning from the local ER, as dad is transferred to City Hospital ICU, mom calls my husband looking for dad. Without dad there, we suddenly see how ill she is.
- March 2013: Dad passes.
- October 2013: Mom calls the sheriff at midnight reporting her husband missing. How much of this is fueled by Ambien, wine or both, we don’t get to know. She keeps looking for dad for 1 ½ years. This is when I knew I had to get her to neurology.
- March 2014: Mom sees Dr. Greg. A clinical exam (which I am present for, and mom fails most of), and an MRI (“vast hippocampal atrophy”) leads to a diagnosis of ‘senility, cognitive decline, or Alzheimer’s,’ as this is a word mom can wrap her head around. Dr. Greg prescribes Aricept and sends a driver’s re-eval form to the state. The state yanks her license. Mom was, and still is, in furious denial of this diagnosis, when she remembers it.
- April 2014: Mom hires an attorney to get her license back; the attorney wants a second neuro opinion. Mom’s description of that neuro appt (Dr. B) leads the attorney to book a neuro psych appt. After receiving Dr. B’s chart notes, the attorney cancels the neuro psych appt, knowing that mom won’t ‘test well.’
- July 2014: $5000 later, mom wins the right to re-test for her license, and passes the test. She hits a parked car the following day.
- January 1st 2017: Mom totals her car. 10 days later she totals a rental car (that I could not legally keep her from obtaining). Both were single car crashes. The second crash puts mom in the hospital overnight. From there she moves to the Island skilled nursing facility until the end of the month. She claims she ‘fell asleep’ before each event. The ER doc, who fished her out of the 10 foot ditch immediately following the second crash, said she was ‘coming around from being unconscious, not taking a nap.’ I find out, retrospectively, that mom was falling asleep repeatedly earlier the day of the second crash, while at coffee with friends.
What’s in mom’s best interest is that this appointment results in written professional opinion that she is not safe, due to her cognitive impairment, to live independently. She is the only one who doesn’t understand this. We cannot go back to:
- Medication errors,
- Being taken advantage of financially,
- Treating every request from charities like a bill,
- Lighting small fires while attempting to keep the house warm with a fireplace and an oil stove,
- Baking fir cones in the oven to dry them for kindling,
- Leaving the cook stove on,
- Burning wooden utensils,
- Insisting she can drive (her license was again revoked by the state early this year),
- Unrecognizable spoiled food in the fridge,
- Or uncheck alcohol consumption because she can’t remember that she’s already had 3, or 4, or 5 drinks.
There’s a novel’s worth I could additionally share, but I’ll stop here. I know you’ve seen this before.
Thank you for your valuable time…