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July 2016 has been a rough month, but also a very surprising period of time. Let me explain....
In April my parents arrived back from their 6 month winter hibernation in Arizona. After speaking with both of our parents throughout the Winter, Gerard & I both thought it was time to make sure their health was on track given their ages and the phone conversations we had during this timeframe. I started doing some research and finally was able to find an "all-in-one" doctor exam that could provide both mom and dad a thorough memory exam. This was to be used as a diagnosis as well as a baseline tool for the future in case of any situations that may arise. Dad was gung-ho about the test but Mom was a little reluctant. However, we all pushed on and the testing was scheduled.
On July 5th, Mom received her diagnosis (Dad was two weeks behind Mom's schedule). She received the diagnosis of Mixed Alzheimer's with Vascular Dementia. It was a sobering moment to hear those words leave the doctor's mouth. I think we were all expecting some not so great news - but this was a little worse than we were all hoping for. That, needless to say, was the start of the rough part of the month. Yes...I said that was just the start:(
Three days later, Mom was up early and fell in the hallway. She was unable to get herself up with the slippery hardwood floors and having nothing to hold onto to use to pull herself up with. I was able to go over and help and she was doing OK but we insisted on a doctor visit. All went well and she just needed some ice, elevation and rest. We spent most of the weekend at the house making sure this happened as well as helping her get out of the house and taking her for a few short walks. The kids sat with her and spent some time hanging out with Grandma while she rested, iced and elevated. She was determined to keep pushing herself to get back to walking without the help of a walker. However, on Sunday night Mom fell again and upon inspection of her foot it was looking really swollen and bruised. It took a while but we finally were able to get her to the ER and from there she was admitted to Methodist Hospital with a broken bone in her tibia. She got a very pretty purple cast and was ordered to not walk on it for a few days. Recuperation was slow but after a few days in the hospital she was no longer completely bedridden. Yea Mom!! However, she was not stable enough to come home:( Boo!!! We had to find a short term rehab stay for her, which are difficult to find. We were lucky to find a place out in Belle Plaine where the staff has been really wonderful. They have been working with her and in two short weeks she has been able to do a lot of PT and is up and ignoring (unfortunately) the signs that say she would always have a nurse to assist her when walking. She is getting around very well with her cast and walker but the darn cast is still an obstacle. We are hoping and praying that the doctor will take it off on Monday, August 9th!!!!
Now for the surprising moments of the month. I've always known my Mom to be stubborn.....OK, let's face it, both of my parents are stubborn:) How Gerard and I turned out to be so non-stubborn is still an unsolved mystery! But Mom has surprised me - and possibly all of us - with her never ending will to face all these obstacles head-on and hit them out of the park! About a half hour after the Alzheimer's diagnosis, I asked her what she was thinking about everything and she said "well, I will just have to work hard and make sure I can beat this." YES MOM! That's the spirit! Then when she first hurt her foot, she kept on walking but trying not to overdo it. Just pushing herself as far as she could go to make sure she was doing everything she could. Now at the Belle Plaine home she continues to push her boundaries with a fierce determination and a strong spirit to kick the butt of anything standing in her way. Way to go Mom, way to go! Come to think of it....maybe I'm not surprised at all:) Michelle (on behalf of Kathy, Larry & Gerard) August 1, 2016