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Dotty Goes to the Doctor and the Importance of Connectedness in the Alzheimer's Community

Posted Jan 03 2011 9:46pm
Let me start with a short explanation for the many of you that are new to the Alzheimer's Reading Room. My mother, Dotty, is 94 years old and suffers from Alzheimer's disease....

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Over the last year or so, many of our readers have gotten to know Dotty. Dotty has written articles and we do podcasts together. I frequently discuss what I am doing with Dotty and the techniques I have developed to improve both of our lives.

We are mother and son, we are also patient and caregiver.

If I don't mention how Dotty is doing for more than a week I start to receive emails asking me how she is doing. It really is wonderful. Something I could never have expected.

Last week I wrote that Dotty was sick. Since then I have received over 100 emails and more than 30 comments about her. The majority of the caregivers offer prayers and words of encouragement.

It would be impossible for me to explain in words the affect the emails and comments have on me. They certainly bring me strength in a difficult time like this.

Like most people I understood the importance of support groups long before Dotty was diagnosed. However, understanding and experience are very different. Support brings with it not only the reduction of stress, it also brings the strength to carry on. Collective strength.

Thanks to each and everyone of you.

This morning Dotty was clearly disoriented and was unable to walk. She had a fever and was very very weak.

I called the doctor's office and was told by the receptionist that our doctor -- Doctor Doctor -- was overbooked and there was no way we could get in to see her. She went on to say that we could see the on-call doctor at 2:40 PM.

I politely asked her to deliver this message to Dr. Doctor.
Please tell the doctor that Bob DeMarco called and said his mother is very sick and he wants to come over in an hour. This receptionist is new and she doesn't know us. She sorta smirked but agreed to do it.

Less than five minutes later I received a call and was told to come over in an hour.

Many of you know that I often harp on the importance of finding a great personal care physician. It is also important to cultivate a good relationship with the doctor. I don't mean a hi, how are you, I know who you are relationship. I mean an invested relationship. An emotional and intellectual relationship.

Our doctor is invested in the care of my mother. I cultivated this relationship. She sees and understands my commitment, this allows her to commit.

Dotty received a shot in her butt, a B 12 shot and a Z pack. Aggressive treatment. We then went down the hall and had a chest X-ray. The unofficial interpretation of the X-ray did not show pneumonia.

My marching orders from the doctor are clear -- if Dotty takes a turn for the worse, or if she does not show improvement over the next three days I am to take her to the hospital. I listened and I won't hesitate to take action.

Dotty can't walk. She is just too weak. The best word to describe her condition is listless.

This morning I did feel an enormous amount of stress. Stress that I never felt before. However, I did think of all the support I am receiving. This helped. Later in the day as I reread the emails and comments the stress flew out of my body.

We as Alzheimer's caregivers must stick together. We must find ways to connect.

The situation I am in right now only strengths my belief about the importance of building an Alzheimer's' community that is connected by the collective understanding that only a fellow caregiver can bring to the endeavor.

I'll keep you posted on how Dotty is doing.

I'll also start giving more considerable thought to the importance of connectedness in the Alzheimer's community.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room

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