Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mom got the news and....

... it didn't seem to even register with her.

Yesterday, we went to the doctor's office and the doc told mom the news... the MRI shows moderate atrophying of her brain, and that she had alzheimer's. It didn't show any problems with the ventricles and there didn't appear to be any indication that she'd had any fluid on the brain at any time.

Mom replied, "So physically I'm okay?"

Doctor: "Yes, physically you seem to be in great shape. But as we age, our blood vessels in our bodies break down and become weak like the rest of the body, which can increase the possibility of stroke, so it's important that you be careful to keep your blood pressure low and to watch your diabetes. "

Mom: "So physically, I'm in great shape!"

It was clear it really wasn't sinking in at that moment.

On the other hand, we met with Richelle's teacher last night for a parent/teacher conference. When we walked in, Roy (with a big smirk on his face) said to her, "If at the end of this year you decide to retire, we'll understand." Mrs. G. laughed at this. I'm sure she's had tougher kids to work with than Richelle, but as we have learned, Richelle, at times, has her own idea of what she wants. Sometimes, she'll be given a task and she'll go off and do whatever she wants to do. She has trouble with talking too much and too loud... no surprise there. But for only being in the U.S. for a year and having learned what she has learned, Mrs. G. thought she was doing incredibly well. Richelle will have to learn how to adapt so she can get along in first grade. At least she's motivated to learn. She tells us she has to catch up to Kenzie.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The joke will be on me

The joke about mom's condition will be on me...

Both her sisters have Alzheimer's. My great uncle and my great grandmother on my father's side had Alzheimer's.

I joke that I'm next. But it may not be such a joke. I'd like to think that I've inherited more of my father's DNA than my mother's.

OK, enough of the morbid. Back to the here and now.

Mom's diagnosis is official

I had gone back to the doctor to find out what the neurologist's report was on mom's MRI. Sadly, she has alzheimer's.

I found a website, Alzheimer's Association, and was able to read about how an MRI can determine if a patient has the disease. It showed how the brain atrophies and shrinks, and why it is believed to happen.

Early Alzheimer's can begin 20 years or more before diagnosis. Mild to moderate Alzheimer's lasts from approximately 2-10 years. Severe Alzheimer's might last from 1-5 years.

I will be going to the doctor with mom to have the doc break the news to mom and to find out if they can determine if mom's is early or mild to moderate.

Meanwhile, at the household, Kenzie has been sick. She's had a nasty fever, cough, and runny nose. The fever is down right now, and the school and I have the same philosophy - keep the kid out until she's been fever free for 24 hours. So, she's feeling much better today, but I need to make sure there's no spiking of her temperature. It has been going up and down as she fights off the bug.

Funny, when she was sick, she was fairly quiet and basically laid in bed watching tv. I can always tell when Kenzie is feeling better. She begins to whine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Precious thoughts

Last night, as I was laying down in bed with Kenzie, she kept saying "I can't go to sleep, mommy."

I finally asked her why. She said, "I don't want you to die."

I laughed soflty and said, "Well, I'm not dying right now and I'm very much alive. I won't die for quite a long time... so let's get some shut-eye and go to sleep."

She grabbed my arms and put her hand in mine, snuggling close and I kissed her head. She then asked, "Why do parents die before their children?"

I told her that usually, that is how things happen. We grow older, and our bodies get weaker and wear out. If we take good care of ourselves, we will live a long time, unless there is an accident. But parents need to live long enough for their kids to be independent and able to take care of themselves. That she was not to worry... by the time she was grown up and I was old, she would be asking herself "Hasn't she kicked off yet?"

Kenzie didn't find that funny. I guess I like the morbid humor, but Kenzie is really feeling a little insecure about death. I did, too, as a child. But I have had to work through that fear of being without my parents. As a kid, and even as a young adult, I felt that my life would not be worth anything if I didn't have my mom and dad.

And to be honest, it took me a long time to reconcile their dying with the natural order of things. By the time my father had his stroke, and then after 2 years dealing with that, he began to suffer mini-strokes and his body began to just shut down on him, I felt that death would be a blessing for him. He was in pain, confused, and had no life other than experiencing the process of dying. I always believed when he died, I'd break down and be an emotional wreck. But when the time came, I felt he was finally at peace. It was my mom who was the emotional wreck. I 'm sure she thought that there would be some kind of miracle and dad would pull through. So, I ended up being strong for her.

I hope I can help Kenzie understand and deal with death in a constructive and positive way. I don't expect her to shut down her emotions, but I want her to not fear our deaths so that it disrupts her life.

Then last night, in the middle of the night, I heard Richelle call, "Mommy..."

I woke up and asked "Huh?"

"I want to give you a hug."

Can't tell you how long it's been since I've been waiting for something like that. I reached over and held her, kissing her head a couple of times. And then she said, "I just wanted to give you a hug." (As if the kissing thing was just a little overboard.)

LOL! That's my girl.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Transient Ischemic Attacks?

Last Thursday morning, when I took mom her meds, I noticed a huge difference in her. She wasn't as aware, and had trouble eating. More to the point, she had trouble seeing what she was trying to eat. She'd dropped some scrambled eggs into her cereal bowl, and when trying to get it out of the bowl with her fork, she was banging the outside of the bowl with the fork. She couldn't figure out where the inside of the bowl was. She gave up on that, and tried to grab the egg with her fingers, but instead grabbed a pinch of cereal.

Then, as I walked her back to her room, she was having trouble walking, and even had to stop to catch her breath, even though she was walking very slowly.

I took her to the emergency room, and they ran a battery of tests on her (blood cultures, CAT scan, EKG) and it came back that she had a urinary tract infection. I also found out why she was on warfarin. She has an atrial fibrillation in her heartbeat, so they prescribe the blood thinner to keep her from having a heart attack due to that. (Funny no one ever told me before - not even her heart doctor.)

The emergency room doctor (can you believe his last name is Slaughter? - oh, yeah!) said that they also thought she'd had a Transient Ischemic Attack, which is a fancy way of saying that she probably suffered a loss of oxygen to the brain for a short period of time, what many of us call mini-strokes.

The staff gave me the name of a neurologist to follow up with - and would you believe that the first appointment for that doctor was 3 weeks from today? HUH? I told them to schedule me with whomever had the earliest appointment. I have no idea who that is, but I desperately need to get her checked out. It still only gets her into the neurologist for an MRI in two weeks. Hopefully, she can hold on till then and nothing more serious happens. She has been complaining that she is seeing double. She also can't even tell where the lock is on her door to her apartment, so she is having trouble locking it before she leaves.

I'm so scared of what is going on. My worry is that something is causing pressure on her brain in the area where sight is processed. We'll see....