Jan 21, 2011

The Dotty Dilemma, What to do with my Alzheimer's Patient?

My name is Bob DeMarco, I am an Alzheimer's caregiver. My mother Dorothy, now 94 years old, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. We have been at it for over seven years. Seven years is a long time....

Alzheimer's Reading Room

My little mommy, Dotty, has been sick for 22 days. At this point we really don't know what is wrong. Recently, she was treated for pneumonia. Did she have pneumonia? I doubt it.

Let's face it I am no doctor. But after seven years I'm getting pretty good at using my eyes and making observations. I'm the one that suggested the CT Scan and blood culture.

Back in October, I was told Dotty had a urinary tract infection. I said at the time, I doubt it. The initial diagnosis was done at the doctors' office where they dip the strip and put it in a machine. Urinary tract infection. I doubted it. They sent the urnine out to be tested. False positive, no infection.

So anyway, here I am. Blood tests, blood culture, X Ray, CT Scan of the chest. Next up, Echocardiogram on Tuesday. We shall see.

Now they want me to give Dotty a diuretic and potassium pills.

Here is what I do know. Dotty is improving at the pace of a snail. Is she better than she was 22 days ago? A bit. If she woke up for the first time like she is right now, I would think immediately, uh ooh, she's sick.

Dotty still can't walk on her own. She is too weak. When she stands up, she can't put her head all the way. Its up, but she can't look me in the eye. That is actually an improvement.

What have I being doing these 22 days other than taking Dotty to the doctor every week, taking her for all kinds of tests, and taking care of her each day? I am waiting for Dotty to say those damn words that she use to say 20 times a day. "I'm hungry, I'm starving".

Getting Dotty to eat has not been easy. We're doing better. Say it Dotty.

When we went to the doctor on Wednesday, Dotty rallied like you would not believe it. She was pumped up for sure. She sounded good. She looked better. I thought maybe. I also thought maybe not. A couple of hours later she was zonked. Not "all there" that is for sure. I was not surprised.

You want to know what I think might cure Dotty. A daily trip to the doctors' office. Sit around in the waiting room, get taken into the examination room, and have the doctor poke around Dotty. Get some bright light and have the young women that work there talk to Dotty.

You probably think I am crazy. Its okay by me, it wouldn't be my first nutty idea that worked.

By now I am use to being told, "you do exactly the opposite of what it says to do in the books". Do you want to know why? I didn't read those books. I did read the books on Bunkhouse Logic.

So the dilemma. I can send Dotty to the hospital. They could observe her and test her for a few days. Stick an IV in her. You know the drill.

I don't want to send Dotty to the hospital. Why? Because we live in America. They can send you to the hospital and you can catch something worse then you had when you went in. What the hell is wrong with us?

I don't want to send Dotty to the hospital because she is going to get all disoriented. Scared for certain. Where is Bobby? Where is Bobby? Where is Bobby?

I don't think that will help her improve.

Don't misunderstand. At this point if Dotty spikes a fever, or if she becomes "listless" in the medical sense I won't hesitate -- 9-1-1.

It is not easy being an Alzheimer's caregiver. I know its often hellish. Frankly, this doesn't really bother me. I had to make fast, on the hop, decision for 25 years. In a strange and odd way, my life experience prepared me for this.

Don't feel sad for me. I am determined to do what is best. The right thing. I am not caught in the "jaws of a vice". I have been contemplating every possible outcome and problem for all seven years.

The problem right now? There is no good decision to be made at the moment.

The solution to this situation? I don't know.

This is what I do know. We are going to get the bottom of this one way or another. Soon.

Okay, thanks for listening. It helped.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room
Enter your email address:

Alzheimer's Disease -- Advice and Insight

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room