This has been Harriet’s week for follow up exams with the Pain Clinic, and the Neurologist.
Monday, January 27th we were on the road by eight, which is too early for Harriet. She had only gotten four hours sleep the night before. We were at the pain clinic in Ypsilanti, Michigan by 9:00 because they want you to arrive 30 minutes early. They say the reason is because they might need to update your information. Personally, I think it’s because if they tell you that you must be there 30 minutes before your appointment, you might get there on time.
Harriet was taken back to the surgical area, while I drank free coffee and played around with my smart phone. Even though Harriet has dementia, and will not remember what the Doctor says, I was not allowed to go to the preparation room because of its small size.
Harriet was finished and back in the waiting room within 45 minutes. She was taken to the check-out desk. We had hoped for an appointment in two weeks, because we want to go to Florida before the end of the month, but because of some problems we couldn’t get an appointment before February 26. I asked, “What is the problem?” Harriet looked up from her wheelchair and said, “I’ll tell you in the car.”
We went to McDonald’s for breakfast because Harriet likes their Oatmeal and was too tired to go to a sit-down restaurant. As we sat in the car, drinking our coffee and eating breakfast, Harriet told me that her Doctor wasn’t happy with the results of last month’s injections. He told her that whereas the cortisone shots were helping, the pain medication didn’t work. This was because it took over 24 hours for the pain to subside. She couldn’t remember the details, but they always provide you with a printout which summarizes what the plans are.
Harriet had a 2:30 appointment with the Neurologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor. On the drive home she kept saying, “I’m so tired, I wish I didn’t have that 2:30 appointment with Dr. Kapadia.” Finally, I realized that a little nap was not going to be that helpful and I said, “Why don’t I call his office and reschedule for the next available opening?” “If you do that won’t we have to pay the no-show fee?” Harriet asked. “That fee is for people who not only don’t show, but don’t even call to tell them what is going on.” I said. “I’m not sure that is true,” she responded, “It says you have to give 24 hours’ notice of any changes or pay the fee.” “Harriet don’t worry about it. Yesterday was Sunday so, I couldn’t give them 24 hours’ notice, and I would rather pay the fee than push you so much that you wind up sick. When we get home, I will call and reschedule for another day.”
With that problem out of the way, she slept the rest of the way home. Once we were home Harriet covered up in her recliner and slept most of the afternoon. While she was sleeping, I called Dr. Kapadia’s office to reschedule her appointment. They were very gracious and rescheduled for the following Wednesday at 9:00 o’clock in the morning.
Tuesday, Harriet was still exhausted from the day before and slept on and off most of the day.
If you’ve been reading this blog very long you know that Harriet HATES early appointments. This is because sleep often alludes her until the wee hours of the morning, which makes an early appointment difficult to manage. However, Tuesday night she was asleep by 11:45 and was up by 6:30 which was almost seven hours of sleep.
We were on the road by eight which should have gotten us to the office by 9:00 with time to spare. The problem was that, the exit to Washtenaw Avenue was backed up and it took us over ten minutes to get off the ramp and on to the road. On top of that, I was confused by which building Dr. Kapadia’s office was in. I didn’t know I was confused until I dropped Harriet off, parked the car, took the elevator to the third floor, and found her in the waiting room of the Michigan Brain and Spine Institute. Then I remembered that Dr. Kapadia’s office was on the sixth floor of a totally different building, on the other side of the campus.
We hurried back down the elevator, out the door and into the car. Harriet’s appointment was for 9:30 and when we got in the car we had eight minutes to spare. We pulled in front of the Richardt Building four minutes before she was scheduled to see Dr. Kapadia. Harriet hurried up to the sixth floor and arrived right at 9:30. I came into the waiting room and found her still speaking with the receptionist about her insurance, address, contact person, etc., they wanted her there early because they had a new computer system and she would have to fill in all of her information again. The receptionist handed her a clip board with five or six sheets to fill out. We sat down and Harriet started filling out the forms. She forgot to bring her sheet with the list of Medications and surgeries on it, and, for the first time since I’ve known her, she couldn’t remember what she took. Fortunately, I had emailed the list to her and it was still on my phone.
We hadn’t finished listing her medications when we were called back to the examination room. The nurse did her vitals and told her that Doctor Kapadia was running late because of problems with a patient. Actually, his running late was a blessing for us; we had all the paperwork filled out by the time he came into the room.
We discussed with him, how much better Harriet was doing since her physical therapy, changes in medications, and new hearing aids. I brought up the question about Harriet’s FTD Diagnosis; was it correct? Dr. Kapadia seemed convinced that it was the right diagnosis, and said, “It’s been two years since your Neurological Psychological examination and over two years since your CAT Scan. I’m going to recommend that we redo the Neuro-Psych exam and instead of a Cat Scan I’m going to order a PET Scan. This will give us a clearer picture of how things are progressing. This means, we can be more definite in the diagnosis of FTD instead of Alzheimer’s.” Harriet was not happy about seeing the Neurological Psychiatrist again. But Dr. Kapadia assured her that it would be helpful in finding out where she was at and coupled with the PET Scan would show if there was any damage to her brain.
We left St. Joe’s and I asked Harriet where she would like to have lunch and she said she was in the mood for fish. There is a restaurant in Saline named, Mac’s Acadian Seafood Shack, it’s kind of pricey so we usually reserve it for special occasions. However, I had told her that since she had been such a brave soldier, serving on the front line of Doctor’s examinations, that I would take her to the restaurant of her choice. She was hungry for salmon, and it was Mac’s or Red Lobster; we went to Mac’s.
We started the meal with Cajun peel and eat shrimp. It was delicious but messy. The Cajun spices got on our hands and under our fingernails. I didn’t mind it but the lady who did Harriet’s nails on Thursday wasn’t thrilled to have to clean all the spices out. Harriet’s lunch was Salmon, red beans and rice, and coleslaw with a glass of Merlot. I had Jambalaya with an Arnold Palmer, (Iced Tea and Lemonade). The portions were huge, and I brought half of the Jambalaya home. We got home around 12:30 and Harriet napped on and off the rest of the day. Excursions like this are extremely taxing and once they are over, she will sleep a lot for the next day or two.
You may remember that my depression was getting worse and Dr. Mendoza had changed some of my medication around. Thursday was one of the worst days in a long time. I slept ten and a half hours on Wednesday night and twelve hours on Thursday. I have too many things to do around the house; daily chores and unfinished projects, to be sleeping this long. The depression makes it very difficult to get anything done. For example, our dryer has not been working for about the last three weeks. Our well pump didn’t work and at the same time the dryer wouldn’t heat. The well repair man said that our circuit breaker was bad and found a used one to replace it. However, he also said that these breakers were obsolete and the type of breaker we have is known to catch fire. I called area electricians and they were all booked up for at least the next two months. In the meantime, an appliance repair person came to see if there was something wrong with the dryer itself. After running some tests, he said that it was the circuit breaker because the unit wasn’t getting enough juice. The thing is, I had a feeling that the problem was in the plug. I unplugged the dryer and one side of the plug was melted. Instead of pulling the dryer away from the wall, and checking the female side of the plug, I continued to pursue the circuit breaker theory. Today, Sunday, my good friend, Bill came over and together we pulled the unit away from the wall and found that, indeed, the female side of the plug was melted. This happened because one of the wires came loose causing an electrical ark which became so hot it destroyed the plug. I feel terrible because this has put added stress on Harriet. We would wash the clothes at home and then take them to the laundromat to dry. Anything out of the ordinary causes her stress which adds to her exhaustion. Please pray that I overcome this depression so that I can take better care of Harriet,
Please continue to pray for us and be sure we are praying for you.