Wednesday they went up to the hospital to meet with the surgeon they'd been referred to to do my grandmother's bypass surgery. Apparently, usually when a bypass operation is done, the patient's heart is stopped, they are attached to a heart/lung machine, and then after the surgery is over their heart is restarted. But this kind of thing can speed up the negative effects of the Alzheimer's. So in my grandma's case the cardiologist referred them to a surgeon who does a different kind of method of maintaining the heart during surgery. He's used it since 1996 and has done thousands of patients since then. And it appears he is the only one in the state who will do it. It seems like the optimal situation for her. Still they weren't able to work her in until Feb. 2. If she doesn't have the surgery, they say she has at most 2 years. If she does have the surgery, she could live another 10 years.
Meanwhile, on Thursday my parents and my aunts and uncles were called to the nursing home for a family meeting regarding my grandfather. He has been falling almost daily because his legs are so weak. Also, they are having a difficult time with him at night. He roams around and enters women's rooms, undresses and gets into bed with them. My dad and his sisters were shocked because this is so out of character for him. They are starting to realize that this is no longer my grandfather we're dealing with. I think the person who used to be my grandpa is gone. He seems to be existing purely on animal instinct. They have moved him into the most secure wing of the facility and he is with the "worst" cases. It is such a fine line between protecting him and others and imposing on his rights. They have to realize that he isn't the same person anymore. I think they are starting him on some medication that they say will diminish his sexual urges. He doesn't know what he is doing.
I am just so struck by the lack of dignity of this phase of his life. It is sad and embarrassing and my father is crushed that this is what has become of his parents. I believe Alzheimer's is a fate worse than death.
My mom advised me that I shouldn't take the kids to see him because it is so disturbing there and she even suggested I probably shouldn't go. He won't know me anyway. He doesn't seem to know even the closest family members anymore.
All I can do is say a prayer for the Poppaw I remember and for my own father who is probably going through one of the most difficult times in his own life.