Saturday, September 13, 2008

Memory... or lack thereof.

© Mudhooks

This week, Mom got called my the clinic she goes to (like many of us, she can't find a doctor and has to see someone at a clinic, often waiting for hours and hours in order to simply have her heart meds renewed).

She came home a few hours later, quite miffed.

"Did you call Dr. So-and-so and tell her that the family is worried about my memory?"


Firstly, no, I didn't call her doctor. Though my sister and others have discussed the possibility of doing so we knew what the reaction would be if we did.

"No.... Why?"

"Dr. So-and-so told me that 'Your family is very worried about your memory'. Do you think there is anything wrong with my memory?"

Again... Eeeps...

"Well, frankly, yes."

Apparently, it came as a surprise to her that there would be any concern at all about her memory, by either myself or anyone else in the family.

We sat down and had a long talk about my concerns and the rest of the family's concerns about the considerable deterioration of her short-term memory. She seemed oblivious not just to the fact that asking the same questions 53 times might be a sign of some memory deterioration but, indeed, that she tended to ASK the same question 53 times. I mentioned the previous week's problem about whether or not she had spoken to my niece about arrangements to go to the War Museum and how frustrated and upset I had been when she couldn't seem to get it straight in her own mind whether she had or hadn't and then moments after telling me she hadn't spoken to my niece, telling me that she HAD.

We discussed her lapses in logic and that our concerns weren't indicators that we thought that she had "lost it" or that she was "stupid". We talked at length about how wonderful we thought she was and how proud of her we are but that, yes, we were concerned.

I mentioned that it wasn't just me who had expressed concerns but that I, who saw her every day; my sister who sees her once every few weeks, and my sister-in-law who hasn't seen her in over a year until two weeks ago had all seen the same problems arise. I said that even my 15 year-old niece has made comment about her concerns.

As usual, Mom brought up her Auntie Maggie who was 94 when she last saw her and was sharp as a tack and some 90 year-old who climbed Mount Everest. I was surprised that she didn't bring up Jackrabbit Johannsen who was 104 when he died and had still been cross-country skiing in the months before.

I said that every person is different. You can't compare yourself to anyone. Heredity, health, environment, and all sorts of other factors make up who you are and that you can only compare yourself to yourself. I told her about friends who have been awed by her being 84 and doing some of the things she still does and comparing her to their grandmother or uncle who is 70-something and just sits in a chair waiting to die... Even I can't compare myself to any other 52 year-old.

"But", I said, "As proud as we are of you, we want you to make sure that you have the best quality of life that you can have and to be the best you that you can be". If that meant admitting that her memory wasn't perfect, seeing the doctor and having it thoroughly checked out, tso be it. There might be some medication which would help prolong her memory.

She finally accepted that "IF" someone had called the doctor, it was out of genuine concern for her well-being.

In fact, since I am the only one who knows the clinic she goes to, let alone the name of her doctor, and I know I didn't call, it is very likely that no one called. I asked the obvious "culprits" and all of them said it wasn't them.

The next day, I asked if perhaps she had misunderstood the doctor and she had merely asked "Has your family expressed concern over your memory?" She admitted that this was possible.

Whether she takes all this to heart or not, I don't know. However, I think perhaps it is time for me to go and speak with her doctor and tell her of our genuine concerns.

The very next day proved to support my thoughts on this.

The week before last, Mom had an appointment with a specialist about a non-memory-related problem. The office had called and told me that she was to have two tests on the Thursday morning and gave me the details. When I went to write them on the calendar, I noticed that she already had an appointment marked down for the following Tuesday (this past Tuesday). Thursday, she went for her appointment but apparently, they only did one of the tests. On Friday, she called her clinic to ask about what this other test was about and was given the number of the specialist's office, and told to call there. She did but, as usual, kept misdialing. One of the misdials would get her a message "This is not a long-distance number", another would get her the message "This number is a long distance number"...

Finally she gave up.

Tuesday morning, I was awakened at 7 am by Mom calling the clinic, yet again, for the number. Then, the inevitable "Shit.... Shit.... Shit...." as she kept misdialing the number. Since my Mom seems to think that phones still require you to yell in order to be heard by the party at the other end, I can hear EVERY word. So, I went doen and looked the number up and called the specialist's office. They didn't open until 9, so I said "Call them back at 9 am" and went back up to bed.

A few minutes later, I was awakened by yet another call to the clinic and her repeating the entire story about the confusing appointments and then her being given again the number for the specialist.... Then the repeated "Shit.... Shit.... Shit...." as she again misdialled the number.

I went down 4 times to remind her that the specialist's office didn't open until 9 am and that she already HAD the number and NOT to call until 9 am.... Each time, I would be awakened, AGAIN, by her calling the clinic to get the number!

The last time, I came downstairs and she was talking to the specialist's office and it turned out that they had mixed up her appointments and forgotten to tell her that her TWO tests were on TWO Thursdays, a week apart.

Why they didn't just DO the two tests on the same day, I don't know but I am going to call them on Monday and suggest that when they have patients who are seniors, they MIGHT want to try and avoid making convoluted plans and avoid making errors in their plans.

In the meantime, Mom appears to have completely forgotten that she called the clinic repeatedly.

Cosmos Magazine "Old Age Memory Loss Explained"

Oh.... and she AGAIN "loaned" my niece some money....

I have warned my niece that if she ever asks for money again, I will take a restraining order out on her.

I WILL do this if I need to.

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