I haven't written about Alzheimer's lately, in part because I was trying to give a fair trial to the absurd diagnosis from the Institute on Aging at a certain religious hospital on the northside of Indianapolis which is supposed to be the best in the city. My sister discovered two weeks ago that Mom was supposed to have been scheduled for a four-week follow-up exam, an interesting omission on their part since at the meeting with the family the doctor went into great detail about what needed to be done in the next six months. But she left the follow-up out somehow, and it was only caught when my sister called the social worker, who'd been on vacation when the meeting was held, to explain that our mother, now taken off her dementia drug in favor of Zoloft was behaving, well, as if she were demented:
• She told the woman at the desk there was a man in her room using the telephone, and they had to come up and make him get out. They ran up and found him--he was on the phone, all right. He was also on the television.
• She has repeatedly entered the apartment below hers and called the desk to report that someone had moved all her furniture around.
• They found her with suitcases packed (a regular pastime of hers) one morning and were informed that her recently deceased husband was coming in the truck to pick her up. She was fully aware that he was dead.
• Zombie husband then kidnapped my sister's oldest child and took her to Florida.
• The next day she went to the desk at 4 AM to report that her children had not returned from school.
This, you might imagine, has begun to convince us that the new medical regimen was falling short of expectations, which is what got my sister to call the social worker in the first place. The social worker suggested that one reason they may have missed the dementia was there was not enough emphasis placed on it in the pre-exam questionnaire my sister filled out. She told me earlier this week that my mother's cheery demeanor at the exam might have thrown them off, and that, while they had an affidavit from the supervising nurse at the assisted living center, a woman who is around my mother 40 hours a week and has 25 years of experience in geriatrics, they couldn't use that as evidence and really needed to hear it from a family member, which they didn't at the last exam because my sister was working and I was on my deathbed.
There are times when I convince myself that there is no solution to the political mess this country has created absent some huge disaster, that at some point in the 1970s (my estimate) we passed some invisible mile marker where brain power was no longer sufficient to keep pace with "reality", that this is widely if tacitly understood, and that as a result practically every last person you meet on the street is a lying cynical bastard who would do any nasty bit of self-serving business for $20, let alone for the opportunity to appear on television. And more and more I call those times "the good days."