It is done.  I sent two pages of recent events and current symptoms to the Neurologist in the Parkinson’s Clinic at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.  Dr. Pahwa is one of the best in the nation, especially in the area of the Parkinson’s meds.  I am not sure to what extent he specializes in the dementia that is unique to Parkinson’s, but he certainly has a large enough patient base to have lots of experience on which to draw.

I think anyone who has complex medical problems ought to consider the approach of putting the information in writing and the questions in writing.  It seems logical to me that getting it to the doctor in advance of the appointment, even if he/she only sees it a few minutes before entering the examination room on the day of the appointment, will help create a better communication and exchange of information.

My impression is that the doctor focuses full attention on a particular patient by reading the chart carefully to reclaim the recent medical history.  Maybe it is a little like cramming for a test.  No doctor can keep a full and current awareness of every patients’ symptoms and their history of treatment.  Reading the chart fills the doctor’s mind at that moment with whatever is immediately available to him/her.

The fax contains recent history that I might not have remembered in detail in the heat of the moment in the exam room.  The written material gives the doctor a window into Mary Ann’s situation beyond what he will see in the ten minutes we are with him.  She may be lucid at that moment (the online LBD Spouses group calls that showtime).  He will conclude that what he sees is how she is.  Dr. Pahwa listens well and asks good questions, but he can’t help but be influenced most powerfully by what he sees in that room.  The fax gives him a history of all that I have seen in the past few weeks as well as what he is seeing.

I included in the material faxed to the Neurologist a third page, a full and current list of all the medicines that Mary Ann is taking, dosages, time of day the pills are taken.  Especially when there are a couple of specialists (Cardiologist and Neurologist) and a Primary Care Physician doing prescribing, it is necessary to have absolutely accurate information available to each one that includes all the meds.

Mary Ann has a regularly scheduled appointment with Dr. Pahwa this Monday afternoon.  I am going into the appointment willing to accept the possibility that this is the best we will get and no changes in medication are likely to help.  I am hopeful that there are some changes that can be made with the possible result of a better quality of life.  I am also fully aware that the risk is high that any change in meds might make things worse, causing a further decline, a potentially irreversible decline.  Mary Ann always goes in with the hope that she will be able to take fewer pills or find the magic pill that will make everything okay again.

Last night was not a good one.  Mary Ann was up a number of times, ready to get up for the day beginning around 3:45am.  She got up at 6:30am, when I got up to prepare for the Spiritual Formation Group that meets here at the house.  It is always distressing to me when she is up at that time, since I have a short time to get things ready for the group and no time to spend helping Mary Ann.  Before this decline, she almost always remained asleep during my prep time and part or all of the time until Bath Aide Zandra arrived.

She was in that intense mode that his hard for me to deal with, lucid, but on the edge of the dementia.  Gratefully, Volunteer Maureen arrived at 7:30am, just as I finished giving Mary Ann her pills and feeding her the daily yogurt (need those live cultures).  I was able to get to the group meeting downstairs.

It was a busy Wednesday.  Zandra came to do Mary Ann’s shower and hair.  She said Mary Ann was doing a lot of leaning over, seeming to be tired — understandably since the night was a very restless one.

Kristie came to do the monthly house cleaning. Since Mary Ann had gotten up so early that she ate lunch at 10:30am.  Volunteer Rebecca came from 11:30am to 2pm.  I was able to get away for a while.

I returned with Baskin & Robbins ice cream treats, as promised.  Mary Ann, surprisingly, declined hers and instead, asked to have supper.  She ate supper (the other half of the sandwich she had for lunch) at 2:30pm.

Not long after eating, she lay down for a nap.  She had been sitting with her head in her lap for a while.  Later in the afternoon, she got up and ate the ice cream treat.  The hallucinations began firing up as the afternoon wore on.

She got up again and had a little to eat, some pear sauce.  That is like applesauce, but made with pears.  Maureen had brought that, along with a large jar of frozen chili for future use, cinnamon rolls, and a dozen or so cookies.

Mary Ann headed to bed around 7:15pm.  I fully expect the vivid dreams and hallucinations to dominate the night, since that would fit the pattern of the last few weeks.

I guess I was right.  She just called my name.  When I went in, she was sitting on the side of the bed.  I knelt down in front of her and asked what she was seeing.  She was distressed that the people were beating on me.  She had her eyes closed and was continuing to see that happening.  She started crying for a bit.  I kept saying that I was all right and no one was hurting me, but she couldn’t open her eyes and let go of the hallucination.  Finally she calmed and was willing to lie down.  It is only 10:20pm, and it has already reached this level of intensity — does not bode well for either of us getting a lot of sleep tonight.

On the positive side, there were two very helpful times for my personal/spiritual health.  In the Spiritual Formation Group this morning, we each picked a favorite Psalm.  We applied three question to the Psalms: what is particularly meaningful to us in the Psalm, how can something of its message be incorporated to the ordinary stuff of our days, and is there a present day metaphor that might be used to communicate the message of the Psalm in contemporary terms.  The discussion that followed was very stimulating and thought provoking and meaningful.

The time away this afternoon was spent at a coffee shop (not PT’s but serves PT’s coffee) for lunch and some reading.  I know and enjoy the young family who own the shop.  After a while a former parishioner happened by.  Donny is a very pleasant fellow. He and his family are also folks I cherish.

After a conversation about a variety of things. Donny asked what I was reading.  As I described the book, it became clear that he also is intrigued by scientific inquiry and its relationship with faith.  I think he was a little surprised at my interest in Quantum Physics and things like String Theory.  I am not so much conversant in either subject as I am intrigued by them and fascinated by their potential implications for people of faith and theological conversation.  It was a very enjoyable mental respite from the daily struggles at home.

It is time to head back to the bedroom and see if my presence and familiar voice might help calm some of the distress the dreams/hallucinations/delusions produce.

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