‘Houston, I think we have a problem’…


Sunday was another day and a good one for Mom. She was up and ready and looked like a completely different person from the day before. I picked her up for Twelve O’clock Mass at 11:45 a.m. and dropped her off. In the meantime, I ran to the nearest bookstore to find anything on Alzheimer’s Disease. I grabbed the first paperback entitled; Alzheimer’s The Complete Guide for Familes and Loved Ones – a caregivers guide and source book, hmmm, I thought to myself, it sounded exactly what I was looking for. I quickly returned to my car and cracked open the book to the first chapter; What is Alzheimer’s Disease? The first chapter covered a ‘case history’ of a 74-year-old woman. As I began to read, I realized I couldn’t catch my breath. This woman ‘Jewell Johnson’ was 74 years old and exhibited similar changes in her day to day life that Mom was experiencing. I realized I did not want to turn to the next page in fear of realizing this could be Mom’s problem, but I couldn’t help myself. Once again, the boulder in stomach began to form. I was about to turn the page but realized it was time to pick up Mom from Mass. I hid the book in my purse and drove back to the church.

I waited until Mom appeared, got in the car and I drove her home. Our conversation was brief, but I noticed she was in a very good mood, so I asked, ‘How was Mass?’

‘Fine’, she said with a smile.

I couldn’t help but think maybe yesterday and some of the other days were just a blip, and maybe there was no issue, and maybe I over reacted, although, I couldn’t wait to drop her off at home so that I could continue reading this story.

I arrived home and continued reading where I left off. I read voraciously, like this was the first book I had ever read. I couldn’t get enough, next thing I knew, the sun was setting. I read ‘The Caregiver Experience’, ‘Depression and Alzheimer’s’, ‘Possible Causes of Alzheimer’s disease’, ‘Six Common Myths about Alzheimer’s’, and so on. I tried to ingest and digest all the information and couldn’t help but feel once again that ‘Houston, we have a problem’. I went to bed that night tossing and turning. I could not control the thoughts and words spinning in my head. If this was the beginning of something I had no control over, I doubted I had the strength to endure this long ride. If this was a dawn of a new day and life, I definitely wasn’t sure I could cope. Once again, the thought of running away exploded with ferocity.

The alarm went off and I felt like a bus had hit me. I felt hung-over, yet I never touched an ounce of liquor. I decided I would call in sick at work and try to figure out my next move with Mom. I walked over to the kitchen table and stared down at the name and number of the neurologist that the social worker gave me. Just like that, the first of many decisions would be made. I called Mom’s GP, explained the situation, once again, and asked her to make a referral to this neurologist. I was surprised how easy it was to have the GP do this, although, I was angry that it fell to me to suggest this next step. Wasn’t that the doctor’s job???? Didn’t the doctor comprehend there was a problem? The doctor said her receptionist would call back with the day and time of the appointment, so I waited.


© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved.


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