Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23, 2011

Mom, Dad and I sat and watched the Packers beat the Bears today.  Great game and Mom and I made lots of noise during the game.  Dad however, didn't care much for the game.  He played a computer game during the entire football game.  One of the side affects of Alzheimer's we don't like to witness.

Dad was on Namenda, otherwise known as Memantine.  It is used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Memantine is in a class of medications called NMDA receptor antagonists. It works by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain. Memantine can help people with Alzheimer's disease to think more clearly and perform daily activities more easily, but it is not a cure and does not stop the progression of the disease.  We took him off the medication for a variety of reasons about a month ago and now the question at hand is this:  are the personality changes and short term memory changes we see in Dad a direct result of being off this medication?

I have to be frank with everyone that I really do not buy the diagnosis that Dad received after a series of diagnostic tests.  They reported that Dad has a very mild form of dementia and that it's more likely Stage I Alzheimer's.  We had previous diagnosis of Stage III before this so why the large gap?

Based on what the Alzheimer's Association has put out as to the Seven Stages of Alzheimer's, I am absolutely convinced that this latest round of testing was a waste of time (and money).  The Alzheimer's Association tells us that Stage I is normal function.  "The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms." (2010  In fact, Stage II states that family and medical profession still can not detect any decline (2010  In fact, Stage III does not define Dad either.  What defines him is between Stage IV and Stage V.  

So why the big difference according to someone who is trained to test cognitive abilities?  I don't get it.  I really don't.  

So what is Stage IV and why am I convinced that Dad has Stage IV?  Clearly he forgets recent events, he has difficulty recalling his own personal history, he has difficulty planning tasks, and he becomes moody and withdrawn especially in social settings.  So why am I fixating on the stages?  Of all the work that the ALZ Organization has done, they are the ones who can truly help us help Dad.  We aren't going to help him through medical diagnosis and more testing.  Mom and I see the affects of this STUPID disease every single day.  He does not recall Vietnam, of which he is a veteran.  He performs certain acts here at home that he has no recollection of 2 or three hours later.  My dad was a HUGE history-buff but not anymore.  Recalling historical facts is very hard if not plain impossible.  He does not recall how much time we spent going back and forth to the hospital for mom's treatments this summer.  He told me the other day that he thought we went about twice a week for a month.  We actually traveled five days a week from May to October.  That is not Stage I.  Although the stages do overlap, I think Dad overlaps between Stage IV and Stage V.

Now that I'm done with the technical side of it - let me tell you that if you are experiencing this horrible journey I would love for you to contact me.  The only way we can help those most affected is through information sharing.

Dad is an amazing man.  I don't want you to get the idea that he sits there all day doing nothing.  He and mom played a game of cards today.  He engages in conversations and he helps out around the house with regular chores.  I have always admired my father and always will and its because I love him so much that I keep trying to figure this whole thing out.

We'll put him back on the Namenda and see what happens.  It's not a cure but it may slow things down a bit.  We appreciate your on-going prayers and letters and cards of support.

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