Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thanks to Doctor Donald Friedenberg

  We'll be looking at a doll today, but I spent yesterday in The Big City with Emma. (Well, part of the day I spent napping and reading a Harry Nilsson biography in Emma's truck, while she was in a meeting for work.)  So when we got back it was late, and I actually fell asleep on the couch after Emma fell asleep and stopped showing me videos of Japanese toy reviews on YouTube! So I didn't do a doll yesterday. Maybe I should change the title to "Doll Once in a While'.
  While we were in The Big City I also stopped at the nursing home to pick up Dad's things. I didn't think it would bother me going in, but when Emma chose not to I began to wonder. It did actually get to me. When everyone asked me how I was doing I started to cry again.One thing I was glad of though, Dad's neurologist was there seeing his patients. I had been wanting to thank him for years. About 8 years ago when Dad got pneumonia and his newly diagnosed dementia spiraled out of control, (Any infection or change can cause that.), he went to a nursing home to recover. While there he got worse and worse. His dementia got so bad they were about to kick him out of the dementia ward. I fought with Dad's insurance to keep him in the nursing home until he had a chance to see Dr. Friedenberg, who visited once a month or so, and who I had been told was one of the best neurologists in the country. (There would have been no way I could have handled Dad at home with his dementia so bad, so the nursing home staff were urging me to sign Dad up for Medicaid and leave him in an institution. I owed Dad whatever chance he had, and that was Dr. Freidenberg.)
  As it turns out, Dr. Donald Friedenberg lived up to his reputation and beyond. Dad was causing all kinds of ruckus in the nursing home, tearing paper off the walls, even possibly turning a lady over backwards in her wheelchair. (To be fair, she was always calling out for help because her leg hurt. Dad was in a wheelchair too,and he may have been trying to 'help' her.) Dad had 'forgotten' how to walk, his dementia was so bad, he didn't know who I was anymore and could look me in the face and think I was his brother Walter,and he was nearly starved to death because he always thought he had eaten. (He even refused the nutritional fake ice creams cups they tried to give him. I had to keep him going by mixing up what I told him were chocolate milkshakes,full of full cream ice cream with eggs, protein powder, and weight gain powder, and chocolate syrup,until Dr. Friedenberg made his visit to the nursing home.I never tried them on him until after dinner of course. I wanted him to eat real food, but he just wasn't doing it.)
  Finally, when Dad was skin and bones, he got to be seen by Dr. Friedenberg. The doctor spent a few minutes with him, and had Dad do a few simple things like try to stand, and touch his finger to his nose.Then he gave the orders to take Dad off this and put him on that. etc. He said, "It might take a couple of weeks for you to notice the changes." In three days Dad was almost normal again.He knew who everyone was, he was eating normally, and walking. Dr. Friedenberg even figured out that Dad had an orthestatic blood pressure problem, which also played havoc with his dementia, and he constantly changed Dad's medication to keep that under control.We took Dad home to live with us, where he stayed for 2 and a half years before his dementia worsened again to the point where he had to go into a nursing home. (A different one that time! But still one where Dr. Friedenberg could see him.)
  So yesterday I got to thank Doctor Friedenberg for giving me 8 years with Dad. Without him Dad would surely have starved and weakened 8 years ago, or he would certainly have been put where ever it is they put dementia patients that are too wild to handle. According to that nursing home's staff, that would have been a mental institution.Instead, Dad got to be comfortable and happy. He knew us, and was still up and around up to the end.
   As I told him yesterday, Dr. Friedenberg is worth his weight in gold. Unfortunately, he doesn't practice privately anymore because he has so many nursing home patients to take care of. I scolded him yesterday because, "If you were out there you could keep so many people from being in here." He modestly doubted that. He said they should have made Dad "the poster child for dementia" because few people with dementia last as long as Dad did. (At this point Shannon,the head nurse pointed out that in the end it wasn't even dementia, but his heart, that took Dad.) Doctor Friedenberg was even surprised that Dad always knew him when he came in the nursing home.
  So I don't care what he says, I still say Dr. Friedenberg is worth his weight in gold.

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