I’d like to preface this with a reminder that I am writing from a caregiver’s perspective. I have no medical training; I spend my days in the trenches of corporate finance. However, I unexpectedly find myself engulfed in a pharmacological tsunami, and I don’t feel as though I’m faring well at all. I have to believe I’m not alone; there must be other caregivers feeling just as overwhelmed as I.
The Great Drug Debate
My dear mother is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s and is living in a lovely group home with four other ladies in various stages of the disease. We are blessed to have the best care imaginable, but I constantly worry about the future. Our goal is to have her live out her days where she is, in a wonderful place surrounded by love, and cared for by incredible people.
Once again, we are struggling to find the right combination of drugs to manage her behaviors and keep her comfortable without turning her into a zombie. On top of the psychiatric meds and due to recently diagnosed orthostatic hypotension, we’re also making changes to a couple of other things. To add to the mayhem, we’re adjusting calcium channel blockers and beta blockers in addition to the usual anti-anxiety, anti-seizure, anti-psychotic, and anti-depressant drugs. Oh, and let’s not forget the antibiotic being used to treat a UTI.
I’m dealing with a neurologist and a primary care physician that have differing opinions, and I feel like I’m watching a tennis match in hyper fast forward mode. I’ve scoured the Internet for every bit of information I can find on these various drugs, their side effects, interactions, and off label uses. Add to that the two cents of every other person that crosses my path, and at the end of the day, my head is spinning. I find myself inundated with an overabundance of information and more questions than answers.
For some reason, this week I’ve been overcome with fear of the unknown and uncertainty about what to do next. I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted, and I’d just like my fairy godmother to appear on my doorstep with an instruction guide. But alas, that isn’t going to happen so I’ve got to get my head together and keep slogging forward for my mom.
Sink or Swim
How wonderful would it be if the various and assorted clinicians would actually talk to one another directly rather than through me. Let’s face it; almost every bit of this is trial and error. No two Alzheimer’s patients are alike, and for even the most gifted physicians, most of the time, it’s a shot in the dark. So with that being said, I suppose I’d better just put on my big girl panties, grab a life jacket, and hang on for this wild and crazy ride…
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Have you ever felt like the medical professionals in your life are all going in different directions while you’re struggling to keep up? We would love to hear about your experiences and coping mechanisms in the Comments section below.