Sunday, November 07, 2004

Just a blog before I go…

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go…
This afternoon I’ll be leavin’ on a jet plane, embarking on one of the more important trips of my lifetime. I’ll be out-of-pocket blog-wise until probably Wednesday. I’ll briefly (as I can) explain the whys and wherefores here so that hopefully I can count on some good vibes from all my Blogland neighbors for the next 36-48 hours or so.

A few weeks ago I posted a somewhat cryptic entry about something that had shaken me personally. It involves a family member, my little brother, or Lbro as I have always referred to him in my blog stories.

About a year and a half ago, maybe longer, he began developing difficulties being able to perform in his career as an attorney. He began forgetting things, falling asleep at his desk, and all the symptoms associated with the sleep disorder, sleep apnea. Although he got treatment for it, he was still unable to perform in keeping with his former excellence as a brilliant corporate attorney for more than 18 years. He went through three law firm jobs in less than two years. This obviously had a devastating effect on his self-confidence, and he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

Moreover, his doctor recommended that he go on permanent disability because he had such a difficult time coping with the collapse of his career and his self-image. Yet there was still no clear reason why all of this was happening to him. It was unofficially assumed to be the cumulative effects of the sleep apnea, exacerbated by the depression. One thing fed upon the other the doctors said, and it was just a matter of time and treatment before he would be able to once again cope and return to a normal, productive life.

In the meantime, his wife was suddenly thrust into the role of provider, and had to go out and get multiple part-time jobs (no one would hire her full-time for more than minimum wage) in order to support their three children ranging in age from 16 through 10. My brother became a Mr. Mom and took care of the kids, and it seemed like a tolerable situation for awhile.

However his symptoms didn’t change, and the doctors working with he and his wife to determine the actual cause — and thereby the treatment for his condition — were noncommittal. They needed nearly a year to make their diagnosis, all the time proffering the preliminary opinion that his problem was borne out of severe depression.

Until two weeks ago.

I had indicated that the rest of the family and myself feared the worst, Alzheimer’s disease. All the symptoms and the age of my brother (he’s 44) lined up perfectly with the M.O. of the disease’s early-onset course throughout my family’s history.

Of course my brother refused to acknowledge that AD could be a possibility, as well as my sister-in-law, who politely dashed my suggestion when I spoke to her on the phone, that we get Lbro checked out by the doctors at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis. This is where my older brother David, as well as all of the other members of my Mother’s family who has the disease had been researched. Dr. Farlow, our contact to the AD research team since 1986 had spoken to my Dad and said that he would very much like to see Lbro to treat him if indeed he had fallen victim to the family curse.

Sis-in-law told me that she would consider allowing Lbro to go to Indy, but not until she had gotten the final word from her doctors, who, to be fair, she had been working with for over a year. It only made sense.

About ten days ago she got the results back and unfortunately, her doctors confirmed the presence of dementia with my brother. She called me and said she was now interested in taking IU Medical Center up on their offer.

What that offer entails is a full psychological and physiological evaluation of my brother at absolutely no charge. They’re paying for everything including travel and lodging for the two days we’ll be there. I’m going because I love my brother, and also because someone has to be with him at all times now. His wife has to work and care for the kids. I’m going because I am the only one in our family she really trusts.

However there’s one other aspect of my joining my brother in Indianapolis that will make this an interesting trip. They asked me if I would serve as a “control” specimen to provide a basis of comparison for my brother’s test results. So that means that for over eight hours tomorrow (Monday) I will be poked, prodded, psych-tested, MRI/PET-scanned, spinal-tapped and blood-tested right alongside my Lbro.

Wish me luck. I’ll certainly be writing a lot about it when I return on Wednesday. I covet all of your prayers and good thoughts. There still is actually a possibility that Lbro does not have Alzheimer’s, and this will tell us for sure one way or another.

The good news is that if he does indeed have the disease, they are working with a so far very successful new drug that slows significantly the progress of the disease, and that will also be provided to him free of charge for as long as he needs it.

Thanks, you guys, for all of your support. I can feel it already

In the Meantime
Since I won’t be blogging for at least three days, I don’t wasn’t Snick to get bored, so I’ll steal a page out of Lovisa, Gooch and a few other’s book and offer you to "ASK AJ ANYTHING (WITHIN REASON)." It’s been a lot of fun when I’ve seen others do it, so I though I’d give it a whirl. Ask me anything you want to know that I haven’t already talked about. Picture requests, whatever, and I’ll answer them all upon my return.

Be kind to me, and to each other until I talk to you all again on Wednesday, okay? I love my Blogville friends. You have no idea how much.

Thanks again, all…
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