Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning.
The announcer from the top hat-wearing Groundhog Day Inner Circle shouted “Take your jackets off!” Spring is on it’s way. But according to USA Today using Phil for weather prediction is as predictably unpredictable as coin-flipping. In the last 28 years Phil has been “right 13 times and “wrong” 15 times.
Diagnostically this is precisely what it felt like whenever I would take Mom to a new doctor or health care professional trying to determine what was wrong or what I could do to help manage her disease. The variety of answers and suggestions as to how I carried forward were often inconsistent, impersonal, or delivered with perplexed looks combined with “good luck!” and made as much sense to me as asking our furry friend named Phil about the future.
Finding help for Mom was a challenge. We tried many doctors in many locations. Sometimes the waiting time to get the appointment and then be seen while at the appointment was too lengthy for the ongoing crisis. These are some of the statements I was told:
from a family practitioner: “Your mom is old. She’s going to die. That’s what happens when you get old.” (This is was told to me 8 years before her actual death when she was only dealing with dejà vu and short term memory loss). And speaking of dejà vu, so many of Mom’s conversations began with “I just did this yesterday” or “I remember when we were here yesterday” or some variation of I saw this, ate this, read this “yesterday”, when, in fact, she hadn’t.
from a neurologist: “Your mom has alzheimer’s; give her these pills.” When I asked how I should deal with her behavior the response was, “Just give her these pills.”
from a gerontologist: “Her MRI shows she has had some mini-strokes but there’s no such thing as mini-strokes, they’re actually called TIA’s, and we don’t know when they occurred or if they are affecting her. Her small benign frontal lobe brain tumor doesn’t seem to be growing in size but we don’t know how that may be affecting her. You may want to follow up with a neurologist.”
from a new neurologist: “Very interesting. I don’t have suggestions as to what you can do or how to do it but would you like to bring her in once a month after taking these pills and participate in my UC Irvine trials?”
from a new family practitioner: “I don’t have any suggestions. Most people just put their parents in a facility so they don’t have to deal with this. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t cure Alzheimer’s.”
from a psychologist-nurse practitioner: “I hate to tell you this but I don’t think it’s Alzheimer’s. I think it’s Lewy Bodies.” Me: “What’s that?” The doc: “You don’t even want to know!”
from another neurologist: “She doesn’t have Lewy Bodies. Look at her hands. They’re not shaking. Give her these pills.”
So I went to the master healer I should have gone to in the beginning. He offered house calls, was always available to talk, reachable on a moment’s notice, and with abundance offered suggestions, words of encouragement and hope for a brighter future.
from God: “Be patient. Be kind. Read, learn and discover all you can. Enjoy the good days. Come to me in prayer and I will guide you through the good and the bad. You will come to bless this time as one of your greatest experiences in life. Thank you for caring for my daughter, Olea, whom I love and I love you. Just show love to her every way you can.”