Parental Journal 66 from Planet Elderly – Driver’s License Outcome Delayed, Physician Fired, Birthday Preparations

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 – Evening

Driver’s License Renewal Saga

Yesterday morning Mom was tired.  “We don’t have to do anything special today, do we?”

I reminded her of the driver’s exam.

“I don’t want to take it today.”

G.R.O.A.N. but then I managed to calmly say, “Oh well…yesterday you wanted to get it over with.”

She stormed out of the room saying, “Oh…alright!  I’ll take the damn test.  I’m fed up with all this shit.”   (Ah…she’s adopting one of my favorite words.)

We got to the testing site around 9 a.m. and because of her age, she was given a special number to ensure she would be served within a few minutes.

She was…and as she settled herself up to the counter I stood behind her, made eye contact with the clerk, lifted a little sign I made and received a nod of acknowledgement from the clerk.       “Dementia:  Short-Term Memory Problems.”

I felt like a traitor, but the last time she renewed her license she was asked if she had any problems with her vision, any problems with getting lost or being confused or had any serious medical conditions.  She denied any problems.  This year, I wanted the clerk to know she has a diagnosis.  Some people with dementia drive just fine, and if she tests well, okay…but there are cognitive impairments.  I’m just hoping the drivers’ license office can be the boogie man and stop her from driving.

Mom failed the vision screening when she tried to renew her driver’s license.  She was told to get a complete eye exam, have the doctor complete a form and then come back.  I thought…okay…this could be easy.  She won’t get her license because she won’t pass the vision exam.

She had her eyes tested today.  She passed.  She will need glasses for driving.  Her vision after cataract surgeries is fine for everyday living, but the driving glasses are supposed to ensure that her vision meets Illinois requirements for safe driving.  Doctor said she did okay on the peripheral vision assessment, which is what she messed up when she was given the vision screening.

We paid a bit over $400 for the comprehensive exam and a new pair of glasses. (Such a rip off.  I buy my glasses online for a fraction of that cost.)  Once she gets those fitted, then she will have to pass the driving test.  So she’s halfway to obtaining a license renewal for the next year…and she is delighted.  I’m not thrilled, but I am grateful to learn that overall her vision is pretty good.

No  resolution yet about the driver’s license issue.  We’ll have to wait until she gets her glasses before she can take the driving test. Hopefully that will be next week.

Late this afternoon, we took a walk around the Grayslake Farmers’ Market…a little something different for a change.

Mom farmers' market June 28 2016

She Fired Her New Primary Care Physician

When Kevin visited with us the other day, he mentioned that Mom is back with Dr. Dalloul.  Bottom line:  She has the right to choose her primary care physician.

Other bottom line:  I was pissed.

Mom wanted a female doctor who specialized in older patients.  I wanted the same, plus one who would follow through on a request to refer Mom for a cognitive assessment.  Dr. Gupta did all of that and was terrific, as was her staff.  But once Mom went through the neuropsych testing and was told the results, she tucked it all away and decided she liked Dr. Dalloul better.  He is a kidney specialist.  I’m not sure of his expertise with patients who have short-term memory loss, delusions and confusion.  Plus, I do not trust that he will even review any medical records he receives from Dr. Gupta.  I will need to make sure he receives copy of Mom’s neuropsych report.

I need to let go of the anger and frustration just because she went back to the doctor she didn’t like in the first place.  It’s her choice and I have to live with it.  I will need to make sure there is a HIPPA form on file so that Dr. D and I can communicate openly.

 

Birthday Preparation and Delusional Thoughts

Dad turns 94 on Friday.  We went to Jewel, ordered a cake and picked up paper plates, candles and napkins.  As we left the store, Mom said, “I don’t think I’m going to enjoy his birthday.”

“Why?  What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, he doesn’t remember my birthday or our anniversary.  I haven’t received a Christmas present in years.  It’s always all about him.  He never thinks of me.  He hasn’t given me my allowance in years!”

I should have kept my mouth shut…but I didn’t.  I have listened to her he-doesn’t-remember monologue so many times and I snapped.

“He doesn’t remember, Mom….because he CAN’T!”

That started us on bit of an argument which eventually moved into a fairly coherent and meaningful discussion by the time we got home.  She said she needed to let go of Dad and find more time for herself.

“I know this is all so difficult,” I said, “but I don’t think you need to let go of Dad.  I think it would be nice if you could get to a point of accepting Dad for who he is now, rather than being angry and upset so much because things aren’t like they were years ago.”

And then she just opened up…about wanting to make sure Dad remembers her… not knowing how much time she has to live… making sure he is not in pain…unsure of whether to move or not…mourning that he cannot be at home with her to take care of him…sorry that I have to be bothered with all this.  “Tons of families are dealing with the same thing, Mom.  It’s not a bother.  There’s just the two of us and Kevin.  We’re a team, remember?”

We talked quite openly about grief and that fact that she has been grieving intensely ever since he went to the hospital in February of 2015…how difficult it is to watch someone fade away before you…living with guilt and frustration.

“I’ll try to be better.  I’ll try to remember that he isn’t the person he was.  I’m just so worried and sad all the time and I don’t know what to do.”  She sighed deeply, wiped tears from her eyes and blew her nose.  “Maybe I just need to get a part-time job…something to take my mind off things.”

I kept my mouth shut.

Thursday, June 30, 2016 – evening

During this visit, it is clear that Dad is declining.  He was totally asleep and unresponsive when we went to see him this morning.  They must have had to give him medicine to calm him down…either that, or he had an extremely restless night.  This afternoon he was awake, smiled when he saw us, and tried to talk a bit…things like, “It’s okay”  or  “Just do your best.”  or  “I’m not sure if I’m done.”

He is eating less and seems less alert to what is happening around him.  He doesn’t know me…but he occasionally smiles at me when I put myself within his field of vision.  He remembers Mom, but we don’t hear him use her name anymore.  I know she feels him slipping away and her heart is breaking.

Mom Dad June 30 2016 01

 

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 60 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of what our family experiences with one parent in a memory care unit, another living independently with short-term memory loss, and me, the only child daughter who lives 400 miles away. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day, The Myth of Alzheimer's - What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Alzheimer's Early Stages.
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