His devoted caregiver and I agreed we don't know how many more of these trips to the doctor's office the three of us have left in us, but we successfully conquered today! Despite our best efforts, an amazing doctor, and loving caregivers, the challenges of the past 4,512 days since Dad was diagnosed have taken their toll.
During the appointment, we were systematically reviewing Dad's care and medications when a whistle alerted us Dad was up from his catnap. "I've not experienced a visit in the past ten years without hearing your dad whistle," his doctor stated, bearing an expression of nostalgia. Dad raised his head and sleepily asked, "Where have I been all this time?" He formed a sentence, I proudly thought.
It's bitter sweet, these final steps of the journey. We rejoice in the smallest victories, as well as the largest blessings. After all, Dad is still able to walk! Yet his struggles are heart-wrenching to witness. The painful realities of this most lengthy and cruel disease are nothing short of devastating. The signs of end of life, painfully apparent.
The fact that Dad may or may not have an understanding of exactly who I am really pales in comparison to the ravages Alzheimer's presents its victims. Whether or not he can speak my name is simply insignificant. When the nurse called my father's name today in the waiting room and he lifted his head, bearing an expression of recognition, I was elated!
I'm keenly aware my dad would not have experienced the quality of life he was afforded this past decade had it not been for an accurate diagnosis. Finding a doctor who is knowledgable about diseases of dementia and willing to work with me in forming a care philosophy has been key. We determined long ago Dad's quality of life today outweighs decisions based on longevity in the future.
His diagnosis has changed over the years, from "Alzheimer's" to "Mixed Dementia" when Parkinson's was diagnosed two years ago. I often hear family members describing their loved one's diagnosis as "a slight case of dementia". The terms of diagnosis seem to be widely misunderstood, as dementia is not a disease, but an umbrella term comprising literally hundreds of forms of dementia.
These resources are found in the back of Stone Benches: Understanding the Invisible Footprints of Dementia. It's my mission to educate others in order for those affected to have the best possible quality of life. I'm in this raging current with you, reaching my hand out in support. We are in this together!
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