Doctors, Prayers, and Therapy

A few days before the 50th Anniversary party our friend, Father John Fain, sent a message on Facebook telling about a pilgrimage he was taking to different places in Europe. I don’t quite remember everywhere he was going, but I do know he went to Fatima and Lourdes. He wondered if we had any prayer requests that he could take with him and lift up in the various holy places went to. Naturally, we asked him to pray that Harriet would be completely healed of the dementia. This and the party seemed to give Harriet a real feeling of joyful expectation.

Let me give you a quick summery of Harriet’s Doctor’s appointments beginning with our new Primary Care Physician, whom we saw on October 17.

Harriet had refused to see her previous Neurologist because every time we saw him it was the same thing; He would say, “You have FTD, you will probably live 8 to 10 more years, Nothing can be done for it, here is a sheet with different ministries that might be of help, $50 please.” She said, “If there is nothing he can do to help, why should I continue to go see him?” Dr. Mendoza explained why it was important to have a Neurologist on the case and referred her to Dr. Kapadia who worked out of St. Joseph in Ann Arbor.

We saw the Neurologist at 7:00 AM on the 29 of October. Harriet was not thrilled to have such an early appointment, but it was the only available spot, unless she wanted to wait until the end of November.

Dr. Kapadia read the report from the Neurological Psychiatrist and asked Harriet a few questions. It became quickly apparent that he knew about Frontotemporal Dementia. He was with Harriet for about a half an hour and did a physical examination, asked her about her medications, how she was sleeping, and about her many falls.

After all this, Dr. Kapadia made some recommendations and referrals. First, to help Harriet to stop falling he referred her to a physical therapy at a place named Athletico. He said that they would work on core strength and balance. Secondly, he adjusted her medication: increasing some and decreasing or discontinuing others. Third, He insisted that she take a driving exam. He explained that in the same way that she was having difficulties with cooking and computer work, so too, she may have lost some abilities in driving which could put her and others in danger. Finally, because of her difficulty speaking he referred her to a speech therapist. He said that he wanted to follow up on these things and made an appointment for January 27.

We left there feeling hopeful because Dr. Kapadia seemed so knowledgeable and gave us things to do that would help with immediate problems.

I called Athletico and Harriet’s first appointment was on November 4. She was very nervous about going to physical therapy because of a couple of bad experiences she had after her knee replacement therapy. However, her therapist at Athletico explained what she was going to do and was very patient with Harriet. She left there feeling very positive about going back for her next appointment two days later. In November the Therapy was scheduled for three times a week. In December they were decreased to twice a week. The insurance company had only approved a certain number of sessions. In January she only had two sessions left. The results of the PT have been amazing. Harriet is much steadier on her feet and hasn’t had a fall since the one in September.

I tried to get an appointment with the speech therapist, but they were booked solid until the end of December. Harriet was put on a call list where if someone cancelled an appointment, she would be contacted. They called once but Harriet was in Peoria, Illinois visiting our daughter while I was deer hunting with our son Joshua.

We followed Dr. Kapadia’s instructions on the changes in her medications. The combination of Physical Therapy and the changes in her medication, have caused her to seem much more with it. She seems to have improved to the place where she is as good as she was two or three years ago. This brought up the question of divine healing. Was the Lord going to answer Father Fain’s prayer with a Yes and heal Harriet of the FTD, or was this just a temporary reprieve caused by the PT and changes in her medication? Time will tell. We will enjoy any improvements we can have.

 I decided to wait until the fracture on her arm had completely healed before making an appointment for the driving exam. I wanted to be fair about this and not insist that she take the examination while she was having a lot of pain in the broken arm which would limit her driving abilities. The driving exam will be done early next week. I will let you the results.

Harriet had her final meeting with the Doctors at Michigan brain and Spine, on November 6. There wasn’t anything that could be done for the compression fracture on vertebrae L1 because we waited so long to schedule an appointment the vertebrae were completely healed. They recommended that she continued to work with the doctors at the Pain Clinic.

Before seeing her doctor at the Pain Clinic, on December 4th, Harriet had an ultrasound and Cat scan, of her spine. When we went to the pain clinic, they discussed the results of the tests. They recommended that Harriet undergo a series of injections, which would target the nerves causing the pain. The first injections were done on January 2 in Ypsilanti, MI. The first day, after the injections, her pain was much worse but by the second day the pain was almost completely gone. The second injections are scheduled for January 27.  If the results of the second set of injections is good, they will cauterize the nerves causing the pain, sometime in February.

Other medical tests and Doctors visits were, a Colonoscopy on November 7, which found polyps but no cancer. A final visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon about her broken arm. A couple of visits to Dr, Mendoza to follow up on the referrals, and for bronchitis.

We had planned to have our children and grandchildren come to our house for Thanksgiving. As the day got closer Harriet didn’t feel up to it so we asked Joshua and His wife Michelle, to host the meal and we would bring the turkey. We enjoyed our time together. It’s always special to be able to spend time with the grandchildren.

As I think about all 0f the different doctors that we have seen and the physical therapy I realized that dementia is a lot more than just memory loss. It also includes the loss of abilities that we all take for granted. Harriet’s difficulties with walking, speaking, cooking, using the computer are all caused by FTD.  The pain from the falls and broken bones, the embarrassment of losing a thought or not finding word after word, the frustration of not being able to do things you once excelled at, are all a part of this disease. God help us.

Please continue to pray for us and be assured that we are lifting you up in prayer.

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