So, while I generally try to publish posts that are uplifting and offer tips or advice, this may or may not be one of those types of posts, exactly. But it will be cathartic, and that’s something I’ve needed for a very long time.
What Makes Me Angry – Mom Didn’t Have To Be This Way
If you follow this blog, or have even read but one of my posts, you know then that Mom suffers from dementia. Mild though it is, but nonetheless, she can’t live on her own anymore. She has short-term memory loss and mild to moderate cognitive dysfunction. But it wasn’t an inevitable part of her aging process. And it should not have been a pathology linked to one of her chronic conditions. It was malpractice.
I Can’t Prove It, But I Know It Was Malpractice
Let me boil this down for you, then I’ll go into details. Mom had the same primary care physician (I use that term lightly—quack, hack or jerk better describe him) for 20+ years. He had her on LOTS of medications and supplements to regulate her cholesterol, blood pressure, gastrointestinal disease, and thyroid, mostly. Some of these medications interfered with other medications if not taken properly. Other medications have known side effects of memory loss, confusion, and cognitive impairment. So, the pills that made her loopy (and she was way loopy for a long time) impacted her ability to properly take her medicines. Since she wasn’t taking her meds right, she had lots of little strokes over who knows how many years, causing brain damage and further permanent impairment.
You’d think her doctor would have been testing her for memory loss and impairment, given the side effects and drug interactions. I mean, it was right there on the side of the bottles and literature! If I could read it and understand it (far too late), you’d think he could!
But he didn’t. He never made any serious attempts to determine if her medication cocktail was effing with her brain. All those years Mom was going to this “doctor” by herself. Not one cognitive test, just for the hell of it.
I Saw For Myself
Once I moved to Florida, and started accompanying Mom to her quack-doctor, it all started to become clear to me. The first time was way back in December of 2015. We had Mom scheduled for an appointment at a local memory disorder clinic in January, and we sat down in her quack’s office for her regular visit. I watched him ask Mom questions like, how is she feeling? Any complaints? And of course, Mom just answered that everything is just fine.
I kept my mouth shut as long as I could. Not everything with Mom was just fine. She was drowsy all day. She had headaches almost every day. She zoned. She had agita. She forgot to take her meds regularly. She forgot what day it was. She suffered arthritis pain in her back and hand every day.
As long as Mom answered that everything was hunky dory, he took her at her word, paid zero attention to the types of meds she was on and how they could impact her answers, and just stared at her labs. But there it was in her labs. Her thyroid was down, out of whack and always seemed a little out of whack the last couple of rounds of labs.
Low thyroid makes a person loopy, depressed, confused. Forgetful. So, he asked her if she was taking her thyroid pill as prescribed.
“Oh yes.” She said.
“Ok. Well, we’re going to adjust your dosage.”
That’s It. Time Out. Ding. Ding. Ding.
I wanted to throttle him. I wanted to wrap his stethoscope around his neck.
But I didn’t. Getting arrested, thrown in jail and sued would do nothing to help Mom. So I calmly told him all Mom’s actual complaints, and that she had an appointment with the memory disorder clinic in a month.
And he tried to convince me to not take her. He said it could just be a B12 deficiency and wanted me to wait for him to have labs done.
Now I wanted to shove his stethoscope right down his smug, arrogant, incompetent throat.
That was the last time I took her to him. I found her a new doctor, who actually paid attention to her, and her diagnosis.
At the recommendation of the memory disorder clinic, we took her off two of the meds with the bad side effects, and she improved. One of them was an incontinence medicine. Taking her off that worried me. Being alert was great. But being incontinent could be soul crushing for Mom.
Guess what, though. Mom’s not incontinent. She had been on a medication she didn’t need to be on for YEARS that came with side effects that made her forget to take her thyroid pill properly, which made her more confused and then she’d forget to take her blood pressure and cardiac pills that caused lots of little strokes. And permanent brain damage.
And it all makes me very, very angry. I did visit a malpractice attorney, but it’s nearly impossible to prove.
No. Mom didn’t have to be this way. Dementia was not a foretold conclusion for her. But her life now is what it is, and is not what it’s not. She’s not loopy anymore, or drowsy all day. And I make sure she takes her meds properly, and every day. So, maybe we can slow down the advance of her dementia. Her follow-up a year later at the memory disorder clinic was promising. She’d improved slightly in some areas, declined only a bit in others, and remained steady in some. That’s almost unheard of. Most dementia suffers only get worse across the board.
So, this post may not have any tips or advice. But I hope it is a cautionary tale.