Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Good News!

At the beginning of the month Sweetie finally had a PET scan. I asked if I could watch. I wanted to see for myself the plaques and tangles that show up in the brain of a person with ALZ. Of course, my request was denied. There was too much confidential material about other patients in there. Huh?

Oh well, I remained in the waiting room, on the too low couch, with very little stuffing while some kind of NatGeo program recycled view after view of underwater scenes with music whose only purpose could possibly be to lull people to sleep. I woke myself up by snoring too loud. It was a rather long wait.

But not as long as eighteen days it took to get the results. Finally - drum roll please - the time came. We were ushered into a small exam room where all Sweetie's newest medications were added to his computerized chart. His vitals were taken. Unlike mine, his blood pressure was on the low side.
Then Dr. Mody walked in and introduced herself. Doctor number 3 we've seen since this journey began three years ago.

Diminutive. I think that's the word to describe this doctor. Like other Indians I've met in recent years, I knew not to let her size steer me in the wrong direction. While waiting I googled her and found her education quite impressive. Since she is new to this practice and to Sweetie's case, she repeated the often asked questions about memory, other medical conditions, tremors, balance, mood. She took her time, took notes, and, though I don't think it was her intent, prolonged the agony. Finally she began to read from the computer, the results of the scan. All it showed, was Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is a "clinical" diagnosis representing a doctor's best professional judgment about the reason for a person's symptoms. MCI causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function.

Those with MCI have an increased risk of eventually developing Alzheimer's or another type of dementia. However, not all people with MCI get worse and some eventually get better. (ALZ.org)

This is good news. While MCI can be a precursor to ALZ, some patients never get any worse. As we've been told again and again, the only way to definitively diagnose ALZ is with an autopsy. With the help of scans, neuro-psychological tests, repeated MOCA (30 questions) tests, doctors are able to track a patients decline. With the exception of dropping a few points on the MOCA Sweetie has not declined. In some ways his memory has improved. This could be due to the medication - a combo of Aracept and Namenda.

I admit, after the first sigh of relief, both of us felt a little angry. Why were we told it was ALZ in the first place? Mainly because Sweetie's CT scan in 2014 showed a shrinkage in the frontal lobes of his brain and in the rear of his brain. This shrinkage is common in ALZ. It appeared at the time, that was the slippery slope we were on. And it still may be. But for now we're going to stop grieving and get back to living. Not sure yet what that will look like. Hopefully a lot less fear and drama.

Thanks for hanging in there with us on this roller coaster,
Merry ME