Friday, November 26, 2010

Twice the strength--twice the danger?

8:26 p.m. Today's project was to pick up a new prescription for my husband Steve, who is suffering with mid-stage, early-onset (55) Alzheimer's. The Aricept 23 milligram is over twice as strong as the 10 milligram version he's been taking, but Dr. Rai, his neurologist, instigated the change. I didn't even know that the drug came in that strength!

Over the last two years that Steve has taken Aricept, I'm not sure whether it has slowed the progress of this tragic disease, or perhaps ameliorated the symptoms or kinds of forgetfulness. He also takes Namenda for the same purpose. Our family practitioner, Dr. Guzman, prescribed Lamictal for anxiety years ago, and has added some meds that keep the arteries clear and circulation flowing. Both doctors are abreast of the total prescription count. I have researched some natural options, and we've actually seen good results with PS, fish oil, B-complex, gingko biloba, magnesium, Shaklee Vitalea multivitamin, and we both take a quarter of an aspirin daily.

With an inherited disease, like the early-onset version of Alzheimers that runs in Steve's family, one wonders what good any of these medications and supplements will do him now or in the long run. His father died of it by 69 after becoming symptomatic in his mid fifties; his 57 year-old brother is now bedridden with no control over his limbs at all. It's at the point where Larry's food will now have to be pureed. Steve is very physically fit and active, but his confusion is getting more noticeable. And he cannot follow directions he hears within a minute of hearing them. So lots of repetition and demonstrating tasks goes on around here! I try to remember to give one request at a time, because he gets mentally tangled up and frustrated very quickly.

So I am definitely on a learning curve! The Lord reminded me of the way He teaches us in Isaiah 28:10 (NLT),

He tells us everything over and over--

one line at a time,

one line at a time,

a little here,

and a little there!

I am daily praying and trying to remember to speak, ask and direct my husband in his tasks God's way!

This evening we had an unpleasant incident here at home. Our son Steven, home from Fresno, microwaved a meal while I had my "day after Thanksgiving" layered casserole in the oven. He also managed to have the steam iron running to press a shirt on the dining room table, when click! All the power to the one circuit breaker that controls the oven, microwave, desktop computer and dining room chandelier and porchlights was gone! I went upstairs to our master bedroom to make sure the breaker in our bath wasn't tripped. It wasn't.

Steven went out with the flashlight to check the breakers on the electrical panel; they were okay, too. Next, his dad and I went out to the panel on the north wall, flipped some breakers back and forth, to no avail. Now it was time to figure what we could live without, like porchlights, dining room and entry lights, even the computer, because we have my "pink Princess" mimi-notebook I'm using now.

Son Steven mentioned to me, "if you write that book on Alzheimer's CHAPTER ONE should be, before you know it's coming on your husband you should know how to fix everything in the house, not rely totally on your husband!" Sounds good in theory, but one person can only do so much, between being a mom and having marketing, meals, clothing and household order to keep up, ministries and a career like most women have, but I do get his point. As it is, I am suddenly in charge of the automatic sprinkler system, all bills, financial and medical planning, such as manging all of Steve's meds. I had to pray and learn suddenly, "on the job!" But God has seen me through, answering those "arrow" prayers like "help, Lord!" Tonight God was once again gracious, because all the power came back on again as soon as we stopped finagling with the breakers and let the system cool down!

Later, Steve and I were washing up dishes after dinner, and he just could not get the wash/rinse concept down. After many repetitions, he did get going on it fine. After an incident like this, I am wondering if there is a downside to using Aricept 23 mg to strenghten his memory and speed up his brain's processing. We have plenty of time for me to investigate becuase we have a lot of the 10 mg. left.
The Lord is helping both Steve and me to learn one thing at a time, one day at a time!

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