MOTHER'S ALZHEIMER'S STORY PT. 2
ALOHA DEAR KALOKA FAMILY,
Because of mother’s denial, she did not want to discuss her memory lapses and told father and I to “chalk it up to old age.” She did not want to talk about “it” (Alzheimer’s) when father and I tried to share our concerns. By the fall of 2008, mother’s short-term memory was getting worse so father and I devised a plan. They would visit my husband and I for Thanksgiving. During that visit, we would take mother to one of the top Neurologist’s in Phoenix, if I could get an appointment for her. Of course, the Dr. was completely booked when I called. I explained the situation and was told mother would be put on their short call list and if he had a cancellation they would call me. I prayed and asked God to make a way for mother to be seen. Soon after, I received a call that an opening was available. PTL!
I spoke with father and it was decided that they would leave the next day for Arizona, one week before Thanksgiving. The day of the appointment finally arrived and only by God’s grace did we make it through. As soon as mother saw the sign on the front door “Neurologist” and then a sign in the window that he treated people with Alzheimer’s, she got so mad she would not go in the office. We tried to coax her in but to no avail. Father and I finely took an arm and gently got mother in the office. She kept telling us that her mind was just fine. So very heartbreaking and traumatic for all of us, especially mother. We told her, “we just want to make sure.” The visit took forever and mother did not like it one bit. The nurse proceeded to get all of her vitals and then sat us all in a room to wait for the Dr. You could have heard a pin drop! The Dr. finally came in and was very pleasant, all the while trying to ease the tension that was in the room. He had mother do a number of exercise tests, which she passed with flying colors. Then 5 different memory tests, which she failed. With all of his findings he said mother was in the mild to moderate stage of the Alzheimer’s disease process and that she should start Aricept right away. He also gave us a lab slip to have a genetic test done in another area of the building. He told us once he received the results that he would call me. The results came back definitive, mother had the ApoE genotype E3/E4, “which confers threefold increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.”
By this time mother and father had left our home early, before Thanksgiving. Mother was still mad at me for scheduling and taking her to the doctor’s appointment. Even though she had the diagnosis on a piece of letterhead paper she still did not want to believe the news. I felt for her and my heart ached. I could not even imagine how she was feeling nor what she was going through mentally. What devastating news! As she was leaving, I told her that it was because I LOVED HER SO VERY MUCH and I wanted to be proactive with a diagnosis to get her help, that is why I did it. She would not listen. She did not talk to me for many months. All I could do was pray for her. It was a very sad time but I trusted God and trusted for His will to be done. God is so gracious and kind. He restored our relationship. My father said he thinks mother finally forgot why she was mad at me, but I know God intervened. I knew eventually they would have to move in with us so that I could care for them. Two years later we packed up their belongings and moved them to our home in California. Only by God’s Grace, His Holy Scriptures, my family and Church family, did I have the strength to persevere on the 6 ½ year journey set before me to care for them until God took them to Heaven last year.