It’s been a long time, it seems, since I wrote, and a few episodes I meant to record have now floated down the river of time.
But yesterday was memorable. We had a visit from our geriatric psychiatrist from Seniors Health – another example of the health system actually working wonderfully. As we settled down, my love explained earnestly about all the dangers in the clouds, the weird colours and things that get dropped from them, and then the doctor did the usual — the mini-mental test used to gauge the state of mental deterioration.
All of we caregivers have been aware that my partner was getting worse (and quite irrational, angry and anxious – well, obnoxious to tell the truth – about the whole situation. Sometimes downright abusive.
The evening before last he had asked me five times if I “knew where Delores was?”
But as the test proceeded, my jaw dropped and I fell into a kind of stunned silence.
He remembered his name and birthday, although somewhat unsure of the year. Did not, of course, know the current date or the month, he knew we were in a house, and he could name the pen and the watch. He did take the paper and fold it and put it on the floor, but the rest was pretty well complete incomprehension. One question asks the subject to read and do what the sentence says. Printed in huge letters was “Close your eyes.” The silence lingered, and then my love – the writer – ventured, puzzled, “cloud” and “E Yes.” Altogether, a score of under 10 out of 30, indicating severe dementia, whereas he had been scoring 25 for the first 6 years of the disease.
As for drawing the clock, (another standard test, which he has always done, although less and less well) not only did he not draw it, he didn’t understand the instructions.
The nurse said Don seemed definitely worse than when the nurse was last at our home a month ago.
Later the psychiatrist gently explained that it was time to withdraw the donepezil (Aricept) since there was no longer enough brain cell messaging for it to do any good. The drug might now be causing anxiety rather than helping.
And. he said, the time had come to focus on my own health. That it seemed Don was on a steep decline now.
As we sat that evening, my love asked, “is something wrong? you seem different?”
“Yes,” he continued, “you seem sad.”