Yesterday was one of the best days of my life, seriously. We took my dad to a wonderful neurologist at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. We’ve been very unhappy with his two previous neurologists and we were hopeful this doctor might be different. Thanks be to God, our appointment went extremely well and the doctor was totally awesome. (FYI, his name is Mijail Serruya.) The doctor took more than an hour and a half to examine my dad very thoroughly and he gave us a much clearer picture of what’s going on with dad than any of the other doctors thus far. It seems dad has suffered numerous mini-strokes resulting in damage to his frontal lobe and cerebellum. He said dad seems to have a form of rapidly progressing dementia and explained the many ways this has and will continue to affect my dad’s ability to function in daily life. The doctor confirmed that it was the right thing to do to take dad all those horrible Alzheimer’s drugs if they were not helping him. That was a great lesson to our family – doctors can do more harm than good and you have to fight for your loved one! As far as a prognosis, in short, there’s not much we can do to help dad and he is going to get worse and worse as time goes by. However, he doesn’t have a classic case of Alzheimer’s but the main problem seems to that his brain is degenerating due to the series of mini-strokes he suffered.
We also found out that my parents’ insurance will fully cover the costs of a caregiver for up to 35 hours per week- wonderful news! That is a HUGE relief since I was dreading leaving my parents without a caregiver and they are not cheap – $16-$22 per hour!
Last evening, Matthias and I spent the evening chatting with dad about everything under the sun – his life, his career, his faith in God, etc. Wow, when I think about the difference between my dad when we first came home at the end of June and right now I can hardly believe it. When my dad was on all those Alzheimer’s drugs he was not my father. Even though dad is weakening day by day, he’s still able to have a deep conversation with us about just about anything, although it takes him a while to get out the words he wants to say. I constantly think about all the families out there whose loved ones are on toxic, powerful drugs that are making life worse instead of better.
FYI, the drugs my dad were on were Namenda, Buspirone, and the Exelon Patch. Maybe there’s someone out there reading my blog and wondering, “These drugs are not helping but making things so much worse – should I consider taking my loved on off these drugs?” That’s what we’ve done and we are a happier family for it.
To conclude this blog entry, I just have to give thanks that despite the brokenness of the health care system in the USA, it was deeply encouraging to know there are wonderful, caring doctors out there like Dr. Serruya!