Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coming to Terms with My Dad and Frontotemporal Dementia....

I've been quiet for quite a while. It hasn't been completely on purpose, I have had the best of intentions of starting posts, but of course life got in the way. A few years ago, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimers. We didn't quite believe it because he could remember us all and didn't seem to have the symptoms of Alzheimers. We pushed back and demanded a better answer. We received it in the form of a more devastating diagnosis, if that's even possible, of Frontotemporal Dementia, a rare form of Dementia. What the hell is that?!?

Well, I'll try my best because I don't fully understand it either. It primarily affects the frontal and temporal lobes, those that are associated with emotions, language, and personality. It happens between the ages of 40-70. Though, my dad was about 76 when we finally got him diagnosed, there is no doubt that this is what he has. They said that people that are highly cerebral and intelligent can suppress symptoms for years, until they can't do it any longer. For more info, please check out the Mayo Clinic.

For the first couple of years, I took it on myself. My brother was in denial and we all went on with our lives as I worked from home and shuttled him to doctor's appointments. But, he was FINE. He lived on his own at the time in a senior community that he loved. He had a girlfriend. He had a life. He had a routine, he'd go to La Boulangerie and they'd serve him his blueberry muffin and black coffee. He was happy. And then, it all changed what seemed like overnight.

For two years, I, no, we his family, had tricked ourselves. Sure, he had some trouble speaking and with balance, appearing drunk though he was dead sober. But, he was FINE. I got a call from the E.R. someone had seen my dad fall in a grocery store parking lot and was concerned. I rushed to the hospital, scared to death that he was going to have a concussion. He was FINE. He was fine until I got another call from the E.R. because someone had seen my dad fall in the store and was concerned. Again, I rushed to the hospital and he had a neck brace, but he was FINE. Until I got yet another call from the E.R., an ambulance had seen him laying on the side of the road from what appeared to be a fall and he had hit the back of his head HARD.

He was not fine and I had to finally stand up for my dad. I told the doctor about his previous falls and my concern. He wouldn't release him until he had 24 hour care. Where do I start? What do I do NOW? I've just spent a week at the hospital and my dad is scared and angry and confused. How do I keep him safe and happy?!? How do I parent my parent?

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