Friday, April 22, 2016

Coffee With Uncle Dick

I'm supposed to have coffee with my Dad's brother this morning. I hope he's able to get here. We need to talk about Dad. Uncle Dick got to talk to Dad during one of his sun downing episodes yesterday. He was going to pick up Dad and go to a funeral visitation. There was all kinds of confusion. It's typical for me; like herding cats, but I think it was a new experience for my uncle.

I will let you know how the discussion goes. I think we have a framework established now. You know, you can share with other people how it is, but until you actually experience it, you don't know.

Dad is good in the morning for the most part. Minor confusion and forgetfulness at best. Caffeine seems to help. Around 4:30 PM though, things begin to change. He thinks the people on TV are talking to him. He sometimes thinks they are in the house. He forgets who is alive and who is dead. By the time I get home at 8 PM he's not even sure who I am. Sometimes he thinks I'm my uncle. Sometimes he thinks I am Grandpa - his dad. That last one gives me some extra authority even though Grandpa has been dead for 16 years.

Last night I came home and he was in the kitchen trying to call someone on the kitchen phone. He said, "where have you been?", so I assume he was trying to call me. I am not sure he was going to get me though, because he appeared to be looking up my uncle's phone number. This was also a night when he had cleared off his coffee table by his chair and put all the items in the back of the Highlander. These items included a telephone, the remote controls to his TV and cable box, several large farmer handkerchiefs and a band-aid box full of q-tips. I always ask him where he put his remote controls before I get them out of the Toyota because I want to see if he remembers. I usually ask him if he has figured out why he does that too. The inevitable answer is that he wanted it off his table and he wanted to put them in a place that he would remember. That last one failed spectacularly as usual.

He has other delusions too. He thinks that every car that passes out on the road is been repainted at an unknown body shop in Pleasant Hill. He takes out the garbage on the wrong day in the middle of the night. I could go on. He can, however, still mow the lawn.

His reasoning, his logic and even his ability to communicate effectively are leaving him at a very rapid rate. He cannot seem to put into words what he wants to say. I think eventually he will go silent.

When we were at the doctor on the 11th, I asked for a referral to a neurologist since Dad's neurologist retired. Dr Smith has set us up with the neurology clinic at Methodist hospital in July. It's the earliest we could get in. I want to get Dad evaluated to see where he is at in the 7 stages. I also want someone to officially pull his drivers license.

While we were with Dr Smith, who is an internal medicine specialist, he gave Dad a verbal test for his memory. I have seen this done before with Dad. He did not do well in the past, but on the 11th, it was a disaster. Dad did not know the year, the month, or day of the week. He did not know who was president. He said he knew it was not Truman. He did not know who our governor was. He could not give the sum of 75 and 24. The only thing he did well was subtract by 3's. Eventually that wore him out though and so he gave up. He quit.

I have tried to tell the doctor about all the odd behavior in the past, but it's difficult with Dad in the examination room. This time though, I pushed forward and did it. Dad had some anger, shame and embarrassment about it. He was mad at me for talking about it, but the memory of that did not last long. If you have Alzheimer's, it's difficult to hold a grudge. He has always been in denial about his Alzheimer's. What he was 20 years ago and what he is now is difficult to mesh together. If you had not seen him in awhile, you would wonder if he is the same man.

But he's still my Dad...and I still love him. This would be easier if I didn't, but I do.

So anyway, wish me luck in my discussion with Uncle Dick. I hope to get him firmly in my court regarding Dad's future. I think the summer may be rough.