Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Some Hope for the Future

Jim and I are in the process of changing our health care provider to a local gerontologist. Jim has been followed by the same doctor for more than 35 years. The doctor is in his early 70's, and I'm guessing close to retirement. My personal physician was actually part of the same medical group as the gerontologist, so the transition for me was easy. All my records were accessible electronically, and I was able to get a "new patient" appointment fairly quickly.

For Jim, because his transfer of care is coming from a different medical group, it is taking much longer to get him in to be seen. It just was not possible for this to be done before we leave for 3 months. Jim has one more appointment with his physician in a couple of weeks, and then when we return in early April he will transition to the care of the gerontologist.

At first it bothered me that I couldn't get Jim transferred before we left. But I'm realizing that it really works out better this way. Jim is easily upset and anxious by any changes. To start a formal geriatric evaluation with a new doctor, just before leaving for 3 months just didn't make sense. Especially since I anticipate testing, evaluation and likely new medications. All of this will be much easier to handle once we are back home; not under the pressure of the holidays and preparing to leave for FL.

I had my initial "new patient" evaluation with Dr. S. I love her! She is just as I remember her from about 10 years ago when she evaluated my dad and diagnosed him with Lewy Body Dementia. She said she remembered me, which surprised me too.

She is clinically very smart. And, she has the BEST bedside manner. So kind, thoughtful and patient. I am fortunate to have very good health. Because I have no acute health issues, the majority of my appointment I spent talking to her about Jim. It was a wonderful opportunity to set the stage and pave the way for his first meeting with her.

She will be evaluating him over two separate appointments. Blood work, imaging etc will be done. She expressed great sensitivity regarding the fact that Jim does not recognize that he has any limitations.

I cried on my drive home. They were tears of relief and hope. Relief that I was finally able to talk to Jim's (future) doctor about my concerns. And now I have hope that there will be some help for Jim and the challenges he will face during this next stage of his life.

Our Thanksgiving day went reasonably well. We enjoyed spending time with family. The next day, Jim asked me "When is Thanksgiving?" I gently reminded him that yesterday was thanksgiving and then gave him some details of the day. His reply: "Oh, yeah". What still surprises me is that this lapse in memory does not bother him at all. But that is a good thing, I think. Better for him to be oblivious about it as opposed to upset, depressed that he can't remember.

I've written before about how difficult it has been for me to leave the house without Jim. It's a combination of him wanting to be with me, and Jim feeling anxious if he is home alone. The detailed notes I leave help, but it still bothers him. Thursdays are especially problematic, as my mom needs my help for groceries, errands etc.

I'm thinking about hiring someone to spend time with Jim. I have a couple of guys in mind. One is the son of a friend of mine whom I could hire under the guise of helping with yard work etc. Jim could "supervise". The other guy is a good friend of Jim's. I could hire him to come over to hang out, or even to go out to lunch. I'll likely start this in April after we return home. This would provide me a couple of times a week when I could get out of the house without worry. It would free me for support group, helping my mom etc.

Well, thanks for stopping by. It always feels so good to put my thoughts into words. As always, thanks for listening.

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like you're making good progress. Will you drive or fly to Florida. Will you have the same accommodations, that Jim is familiar with each year? Will be interesting to see how he reacts to the Florida change.

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    1. Yes, we drive to FL. Friends of ours do it with just one overnight, but we'll take an extra day so as to make it less stressful. The condo we are renting this year is different from the one we stayed in the past. But we have visited our friends in this new complex, so it will be somewhat familiar. I know I'll need to be super vigilant and extra reassuring. If it turns out to be too much, we'll simply come home. Thanks Linda.

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  2. Sounds like things are going well ... and I think it's totally sensible to take an extra day to drive to Florida. Who needs the stress?!?

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    1. Thanks Tom. I so agree. I think the worst part of the drive is 81 south through PA. There is a lot of tractor trailer traffic, the lanes seem narrow to me, and the weather is often unpredictable. Just going to take it easy, drive during daylight hours and avoid the DC traffic.

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  3. You are an angel of a wife, Carole. I know how hard it is to change doctors. How wonderful that you've got a "new" doctor again that you like. That's such a relief. My fabulous nurse practitioner is retiring and it's scary for me to think of being in someone else's care.

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    1. Thanks Kay. It can be a challenge to change health care providers for sure. I know what you mean about Nurse Practitioners. They often represent the softer side of the practice of medicine. I've been fortunate to know several. I have found that they take time to listen and are able to convey they care about you as a person. All part of the healing process :-)

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  4. Your plans to invite 'carers' are good. It should relieve you of some of the angst as well as being good for your husband to see different faces in his home. I hope all goes well with the new doctor - for your husband, I mean. Hope your break in Florida goes well.

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    1. Thanks Valerie. It's funny, but I have found it takes some time for me to figure things out. And, sometimes it is only after a "bad" experience that I am able to gain insight and learn how to go forward.

      Jim is so looking forward to FL. He frets about the snow and the cold. He seems especially sensitive to the weather changes. Hopefully it all goes smoothly :-)

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  5. I am leaving on Tuesday to visit my sister in Florida, just for a week, but I am also looking forward to leaving our rain behind for a while. Good luck on your trip! Jim is so lucky to have you. :-)

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    1. Thanks DJan! I'll be thinking of you as you enjoy your time with your sister in Florida. The weather there should be beautiful this time of year :-)

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  6. Finding a doctor you really like is a blessing. It is wonderful to not feel like you are on an exam conveyor belt as some make you feel.
    Think you are smart not to spring this on Jim and then make the trip. Hope you have a wonderful time in Fl--my home state. Be warm and carefree.
    Also like that you are lining up help when you get back. You can only stretch so far.

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    1. I love your description of the "exam conveyor belt"! I think we have all experienced that at one time or another. Thanks for the warm wishes. So looking forward to it. I had forgotten that FL is your home state. I always think that the locals must be relieved when all of us snowbirds go back home :-)

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  7. I think you have a good plan for the near future, regarding the gerontologist and the hiring of people to take your place while you need to be out of the house.

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    1. Thanks Gigi. I'm feeling like I'm in better control now. At least as much as you can be, given the changing situation :-)

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