Tuesday, April 11, 2006

69 visit with students

Mayatime: 2 Ix 7 Pop

Today was the big visit with the Yale pre-med students. I really don't know what I expected. It went well, I think.
I got to my parents around 10:45 and we headed out shortly after that. The traffic wasn't too bad until we got up to the 91/95 merge; going onto 95S was a mess, but then again it always is. But since we were getting off exit 1 it didn't matter; we were able to scoot by it all. The Coliseum is partially ripped down. It was strange to be able to look inside and see all the blue and red seats. I went to the Barnum and Bailey Circus when I worked at Yale Broadcasting; that was the last thing I went to there. The last concert? I can't even remember.
The trouble with my dad started in the parking lot. It's this little tiny lot, really just an empty lot. Cars parked every which way, totally tight, crazy. My mom found a space that was a little too small but that was all there was. She didn't park exactly between the lines. My dad was screaming and yelling and making such a fuss that I said I'd move the car. But she'd parked so close I couldn't even fit between the cars. I had to climb in through the passenger seat, over the console, and into the driver's seat. With my rotund body. Hopefully there's no hidden cameras there. As I'm trying to back out and reposition the car my dad's right behind the car. I'm yelling at him to MOVE and he's waving his arms which way I should go and my mom's grabbing at him trying to get him to move. I manage to get the car about 4" to the right; of course now the people on the other side won't be able to get into THEIR car. The lot's that tight. He's yelling that I'm not between the lines good enough and I'm telling him that I can't move over anymore because the other cars aren't centered and he says "Just shoot me" and I said "Maybe another time."
Then as we get into the waiting room he starts in that he doesn't want to do the 1-2-3 thing (the memory tests), he hates them. The lady doctor comes out and starts to talk to us about what's going to happen, and he says he doesn't want to do it, that all the kids will laugh at him because he's such a dummy and he can't talk anymore and if they don't laugh to his face they'll laugh when they get home. He picks up a magazine and points to the print and says that he can't read it anymore, he used to be able to do that. It is so upsetting to me to think that my dad can't read anymore.
My mom and I went in first. We talked about an equal amount, I'd say. First the doctor asked us some general questions, what was it like to realize he had something wrong with him, etc. Then the students got to ask questions. There were a lot of them there. The lady doctor had said 12 or 15 but it was more like 20. Most of the questions were pretty thoughtful. No one laughed. Then it was my dad's turn. We reassured him that they wanted to talk to him, that they had come in just to meet him, and that they wouldn't laugh. They took him in without us. I said "Good luck with that"--without my mom and I to interpret the Bobspeak. But I guess he did okay--when they brought him out, they said he started out a little slow but once he got going he had a really good time and everyone enjoyed it. How they could enjoy seeing the ruin of a decent human being...but I can't think of it that way. They saw that he's HUMAN, that was the point.
We had to hang out in the waiting room for a while because another couple was late for their appointment so they couldn't see my dad right away. As the students came out most of them stopped to talk to us, and thank us. My dad would stand up, shake their hands, and thank them for coming, like it had been a command performance of his. He's so cute sometimes.
I got to talk to the doctor (Dr Van Dyke) who's the head of the study. He said a few months after the WHOLE study is done, not just the section my dad's in, we can find out if he was in the placebo group or not. He also said there's a review board and they have the true data, not the blind data, and that at the halfway point they could halt the study--if they see a huge increase in cognitive function in the people getting the infusions, or if the see a huge decrease. But he said that hasn't happened yet. He also said if this drug works it could be on the market soon enough for my dad to get a prescription for it.
I also asked him when I should start getting tested for it--the little cognitive tests. He said only if I feel that something's wrong. He told me to take vitamins and eat fish. Yes to the one, no to the other. He also said that the 50% chance of getting it if you have a 1st degree relative figure is overrated, that if I live to be 90 I'd have a 50% chance. He said most like I WILL NOT get AD.
That's a relief, right?
My dad ended up having a good time and would have stayed in there talking to the students longer. He's always liked talking to people; that's why he was such a good car salesman for so many years.
I gave the lady doctor (I don't know how to spell her name and I'm sure my mom says it wrong-McAvoy? maybe) this URL. That was the whole point of me coming. I've been documenting this thing for so long. It's about time I get to talk in person about it.
I only hope that it helps one of these students become a doctor who specializes in geriatric mind diseases/dementia and that person finds a total cure. Even if it's too late for my dad. It won't be too late for someone else's dad.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am facing the same with my mother and see some of the same insane,funny and sad things I experience with her here. We aren't alone.........