The exam seemed to fly by, not because it was easy, but because my mind travelled back to Dad’s diagnosis of cancer in 1989. It is difficult to explain, but my mind was heading in complete different directions which may have been why I felt complete confusion when the Doctor said, ‘I am almost 100% sure your Mom has ‘early on-set’ Alzheimer’s. I will need to take her license away immediately.’
‘What?’ I asked. ‘License, ah, no she doesn’t drive’. I looked over at Mom trying to gage her reaction to the doctor’s words. Nothing. She looked straight ahead and seemed to be in another world.
Now the doctor looked into my eyes, leaned over in his chair, and said, ‘Your Mom is not safe. She will need to be placed in a nursing home immediately. I am going to give you a prescription for a new drug on the market called Aricept, which may or may not slow down the progression of the disease. Also, I will have my receptionist make an appointment for a CT Scan and EEG to make sure that there is nothing else occurring. I’m sorry.’
Sorry? Really? No I thought, this can’t be right. I want another opinion, No I need another opinion. I looked at my brother and this one time couldn’t read his thoughts or expression on his face.
‘It’s sad that your Mom is so young, but she can no longer live alone for safety reasons, do you understand?’ the doctor said quietly. ‘As time goes by she will need more care, and at her age, the progression will be much quicker.’
I looked at my brother then to my Mom who was looking down at her hands. I wanted to stand up and scream ‘wait a minute!!!! This can’t be right; my grandmother (my Mom’s Mom) was fine at the age of 88. If anyone should have an issue, it’s Baba. There must be some other explanation for Mom’s behavior’.
Next, I hear the doctor talking about a blood test that could be done to see if my brother and myself had some sort of genetic disposition. ‘I could give you both the information especially if you have children or plan on having children.’
My brother and I looked at each other and replied in unison, ‘no thank you, we do not, nor are we planning on having children’. Deep down inside I always thought I carried a certain cancer gene as Dad, Grampa, Nana and most of Dad’s family had died from that disease, so kids would not be in my future.
The doctor kept talking, ‘Either way, you may want to know for your selves, to see if you have the gene. A positive result does not necessarily mean you will get this disease, it just means you are carrying this particular chromosome. Science is moving rapidly, and a cure could be just around the corner.’
My brother and I just shook our heads. We must have looked like shocked poor puppy dogs because the doctor then said, ‘Let’s see how the tests go, but I would suggest you begin the process of placement for your Mom, just in case.’
I stood up slowly feeling an enormous weight pressing on my entire body.
The doctor stood up, shook our hands and said ‘thank you, my receptionist will let you know when the tests will be scheduled.’
Thank you? That’s all you’ve got, I thought. My heart was broken, but what I didn’t realize was, all of our hearts were broken. I took Mom’s hand and led her back to the reception area where we were given an appointment for the CT scan and EEG at the hospital to be performed a few weeks later.
The drive back to Mom’s condo was in silence, until Mom said, ‘That wasn’t so bad’.
I looked over at her and quietly answered, ‘no it wasn’t’.