Today Matthias, my mom and I attended a big birthday party for an old family friend at a restaurant. During the party, I vaguely noticed a cute little girl crying throughout the party. I didn’t think much of it until I was told she was a foster child. I also found out she’d been with her foster family since Thursday and she wasn’t adjusting well at all. Actually, this is a foster family within a foster family…very complicated situation. God seems to have given me a gift with kids (not all kids) so without thinking, I scooped her into my arms and took her to a quiet part of the restaurant. Her foster mother didn’t seem to mind at all.

I sang to her quietly, rocked her, stroked her back softly, and prayed for God to calm her fears and then she melted into my arms. She was probably overwhelmed by the big crowd of unfamiliar faces. So many changes and over-stimulation, I imagined. I went back to the party and continued to hold her in my arms for almost an hour. Everyone nearby commented on how well she’d taken to me and I think my mom was wondering if we wanted to adopt her. As I heard more of this little girl’s story, my heart BROKE. She desperately needs an adoptive family because her birth mother signed away her rights. She fell asleep in my arms and when it was time to go, I hated giving her back to her foster mother. Much to my surprise, she started screaming, “Mama! Mama!” when she was being taken away. She was even willing to go to Matthias’ arms instead of going back to her foster family. It was pure torture!

I learned that there are so many kids like her in the state of NJ, waiting to be adopted and yet no families are willing to take these kids. How can such a thing be so? She was only three years old, but she was clearly traumatized and has been through so much during her short life. I could see in her eyes that she was in pain and wanted a mother more than anything. I simply cannot stop thinking about her. I’d really like to see her again. Once again I am left wondering what God’s plan is for us regarding adoption and having kids.

The biggest news of this past week involves my dad. To be honest, I think I’d given up hope. I didn’t really believe anything could change and that he’d continue to decline and die like this. This past week my dad was worse than he’d ever been before. My mom was about to pull her hair out from the enormous stress and pain of the situation. Dad was endlessly pacing, unable to sit still, irritable, demanding, couldn’t walk, couldn’t stand up without assistance, and couldn’t speak very well. My wonderful husband decided to do research on all of my dad’s medications and discovered that one drug in particular, Namenda, seemed to causing many horrible side effects in patients all over the country.

As I looked at the side effects, it slowly dawned on me that perhaps some of his behavior was not due to his dementia/ Alzheimer’s but to this medication. The more research we did, the clearer it became that we needed to get him off this drug immediately.

I am overjoyed to report that my dear dad, after a few days off this drug, is almost like his old self. I feel like I have my dad back! He’s talkative, can sit still with ease, can get up and sit down without any assistance, and best of all, he’s not rude and demanding. Matthias and I had a long time of Q&A with dad yesterday and to be honest, we’re wondering if he has been wrongly diagnosed. Now that he’s not a drugged up zombie-dad, he’s rather talkative. We discovered his short-term memory is excellent and he’s able to answer lots of questions that would be difficult for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease. Could it be he’s been on a potent, newly approved drug to treat Alzheimer’s but doesn’t even have this awful disease? It’s wonderful to have hope again, hope that dad will be with us for a few more years at least.

We’ve learned some things we’d forgotten, one of which is that doctors don’t always do the right or best thing. We decided as a family to get a new doctor for dad because the ones he’s had have been just terrible. It’s a real paradigm shift for me to realize that doctors are not always right, not the godlike creatures we pretend they are and are actually quite limited. I cannot believe that my dad’s doctor never thought that the cause of so many of my dad’s problems was this awful drug, Namenda.

I’m very happy and hopeful about my dad’s future, but also concerned for the thousands of families out there whose loved one is taking Namenda, wreaking havoc and doing more harm than good. Tonight I am thankful for my awesome husband who had the foresight to do all the hard research on Namenda and lead our family to take my dad off this dreadful medication.

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