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Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Memory of Doctor Carlos Chiriboga


Carlos Chiriboga was a young man. He is survived by his loving wife, and three young children ages 3-12 years old.

My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 93 years old, suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

For those of you that have been here for a while, you know that I am adamant about the importance of finding a personal care physician that is fully familiar with Alzheimer's disease. In fact, I believe this is the most important decision you will ever make in a fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Sadly, our incredibly competent, loving, caring, personal care physician--Dr. Carlos Chiriboga--died last week.

Carlos Chiriboga was a young man. He is survived by his loving wife, and three young children ages 3-12 years old. Dr. Chiriboga died from a complication during surgery. His death was unexpected.

It would be impossible for me to describe the feeling of sadness I am experiencing right now.

It has been difficult for me to come on the blog this week. Hard to read my email and make the necessary responses.

In the last year, I took my mother to see Dr. Chiriboga 27 times. You can imagine the number of problems that we were experiencing with my mother to go into his office that often.

Most of the time when I need to take my mother to the doctor, she goes kicking and screaming (my mother always says the same thing--I don't need a doctor, "I am a healthy old broad".)

Every time, every time, when we walked out of Dr. Chiriboga's office my mother walked out with a smile on here face, and in a very good mood. I often told Dr. Chiriboga that I wished I could bring her to his office every day.

As you all know, I read just about everything there is on Alzheimer's. During our 4 years with Dr. Chiriboga when I asked about this or that treatment he was right there with me every time.

When I wanted to try something that could be considered outside the box, Dr, Chiriboga would discuss the ramifications of the treatment with me. He never said No upfront. He did convince me on several occasions that the potential risks could outweigh the rewards. Then he would ask me what I wanted to do. You can probably guess the answer. Dr. Chiriboga had a very effective way of "disabusing" me of some of my wild ideas.

When I first read about the beneficial effects of Namenda in concert with Aricept, I immediately made an appointment to discuss this with Dr. Chiriboga. I didn't have to hand him the information, he was fully informed about the study before I got to him.

He did hesitate for a few seconds when I made my request for the Namenda. He then said, here is what we are going to do, and this is how we are going to do it. Why did he hesitate? I never asked. But, I suspect he was doing something that our healthcare company wouldn't like. It probably meant that he was going to need to do "paperwork" to justify the medication. This is how healthcare works in the real world.

If you read my article--Alzheimer's and the Thyroid, He Came Back to Life--you know that the specialists wanted to give a patient "electric shock therapy" in a final attempt to wake up his brain. Dr. Chiriboga after reveiwing all the test decided there could be an easier, more simple solution. The next day the man sat up and returned to his normal self--he came back to life.

When my mother was suffering from massive headaches, on the top of her head, for three straight weeks, I was at wits end with worry. Every morning my mother's blood pressure was sky high, and she had the headache. Dr. Chiriboga finally came up with a simple solution--0.1 of Clonidine HCL. Not only did it work, but it gave us an additional unexpected benefit--my mother now sleeps straight through the night. No getting up, no wandering around in the middle of the night. This was an "outside box" solution.

In September, I'll write about how we finally whipped incontinence after six years.

I'll also write about Dr. Chiriboga's special communication techniques.

It took me 14 months, and the firing of 3 personal care physicians, before I found Dr. Chiriboga. It was not easy to find him. It was more than worth the effort. I doubt that our experience with Alzheimer's would have gone as well as it has without Dr. Chiriboga. He made a remarkable impact on both my mother and me.

I'll think of Dr.Chiriboga often in the years ahead. I'll remember that he was both a remarkable doctor and a remarkable man. I know some day I'll reach the point where all my thoughts about him will be happy and positive.

Right now, I am sad.

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Bob De Marco
  Alzheimer's Reading Room