So I took my dad to the doctor today. We have a new neurologist, because the old one left to be a doctor for a real hospital and not the VA.
The new guy is pretty cool, and took an hour with us, answering my many questions. I just wish he had better news for us.
He had a CT scan that my dad had done recently, and there were some surprises there. He started off with the good news: "Well, it looks like he hasn't been having strokes like we thought were happening, and that looks really good."
The bad part is though, that the CT showed that my dad's 1 problem isn't just Parkinson's - its Alzheimer's. Stage 5-6. Yes, he has Parkinson's symptoms, but according to the new doc the major problem is Alzheimer's.
He ran a bunch of tests, which didn't go well at all. I expected that, as he's been more "loopy" than usual. He kept looking at me with this helpless look in his eyes.
"What year is it?" "Uh.... nine?"
"What branch of the military were you in?" "Uh.... I don't know..."etc etc.
He told me to expect my dad to go mute within the next year. Muteness happens in stage 7 - the last one. He's off the dementia drugs, because he's past the point of where they will help him. He's being weaned off of some of the other ones too, because they aren't going to help him this far in the game.
So I'm getting all of this unsuspected bad news, trying not to cry, trying not to freak out that my dad's mom died in a nursing home from the very same thing, and trying not to think that I take after that side of the family, etc etc and asking questions like "When will he need a memory facility?" "How will I know when I need to do XYZ". I'm being very careful to try not to use the word Alzheimer's, because my dad freaked out when Gramma got it - he put her in a home and bailed. He was too freaked out to deal with her, and so he didn't. (I can't help but think of Karma here, as much as it breaks my heart).
So I'm walking him out to the car in my sunglasses, so he can't see me starting to cry, and he says "So what did the doctor say, honey?"
After all of that, no fucking clue. What was I supposed to say? "Well dad, you'll be a vegetable within a year, probably. It shows over 50% of your cerebral matter is dead." Wouldn't that be a nice thing to tell him?
I answered, "Those pictures we looked at of your brain showed that you aren't having any strokes, and you get to take two less pills now."
"Well that's good." He answered, smiling.
I have about a year until I won't see my dad's smile again. That goes with the speech deficiency, he will have zero facial movement aside from drooling and the occasional grunt. I didn't expect this... I hope he dies so he doesn't have to slowly shut down piece by piece, for his sake.
I don't have to go back to the VA for 6 months. This is good, in one sense, but I can't help but think that it's because they know they can't do anything else for him. We've been going at 3 month intervals before.
I need to meet with an elder law attorney, and see the best way to maximize my dad's assets and get him ready for the best sort of skilled nursing place he can afford. It looks like we're going to be there sooner than later. I heard that when you put them in a home they take everything from them, you sign it over. I don't want that to happen - because if the place sucks, then I won't have his money to move him somewhere else.