It's been two years since Alan lost that first job. He doesn't believe anything is wrong. Most of the time he can't remember anything for even a couple of minutes. I guess he doesn't remember that he's not remembering. Most of the time I feel like I jumped down the rabbit hole and landed in wonderland.
One of the things that happened back before we knew anything was wrong: He was telling some wild story that had supposedly happened to him. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This was one of the things that had happened to ME on one private investigation case I was working on. I thought he was just lying through his teeth and I called him on it in front of the people. I realize now he was already losing touch with reality.
If you are taking someone to be tested for any kind of dementia, WARNING….they'll get to the doctor and lie through their teeth to prove nothing is wrong or if they don't remember something, they'll just make up a story. Some of them are good enough to fool the doctor. You must let the doctor know what's happening so he/she can see through the smoke screen.
He was afraid of being diagnosed with either Parkinsons Disease or Alzheimers, since several in his family had died from both diseases. So before we went to the first doctor, he asked me a question he had already asked several times that day. What day is this? What year is this? He completely fooled that young doctor.
When we went to the free clinic, he tried the same thing. This time I ignored the questions. When we were waiting to go into the doctor, he picked up a Newsweek that had a huge picture of Michelle Obama on the front.
When the doctor asked him what day it was, he quickly tried to glance at his watch. The doctor and I both reacted at the same time to cover Alan's watch. He gave the wrong answer having no idea what day it was. What year is it? Uh…2009. Who is the president? Uh…Nixon…but I know who his wife is. It's Michelle Obama.
He couldn't repeat a list of things back to the doctor, couldn't name 5 wild animals, etc. But he could still play the piano like a pro. That was something he had started studying at age 5, so it was still in his memory.
This was the doctor who thought it was frontal lobe dementia but just wasn't sure.
When we got back out to the car, Alan was a happy camper. He hadn't heard Parkinson's or Alzheimers, the two things he feared. Frontal lobe dementia meant nothing to him so he was happy.
Sometimes he would have two or three good days where everything seemed normal. It concerned me…was he just making this whole thing up? Then it seemed he would take a nose dive. I didn't know, at that time, this was a sign of mid-critical alzheimers.
So it shouldn't have surprised me when the diagnosis came back frontaltemporal complicated alzheimers.
At the memory clinic, the doctor came in to give me the diagnosis while another doctor finished "testing" Alan to keep him busy. I was horrified at the diagnosis, didn't know what I was going to do, but didn't want to start crying and alarm Alan when we got in the car to go home. I felt like I had a lead ball laying in the bottom of my stomach. I remembered what the Bible says "Do unto others as YOU would have THEM do unto you."
Alan looked at me, with a smug smile, and said, "I passed the test!" I started rolling with laughter. Then it hit me, "Alan we can get through this just fine if we remember to keep laughing."