In May, 2006, my younger sister was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor, and her doctors told us she would die soon. Thankfully, she is still with us 1-1/2 years later, undergoing treatment at M.D. Anderson, and has shown no signs yet that the cancer has begun to grow again. My question is not about her, though. It is about my mother. My mother is a 74 year old healthy, extremely active woman who has conducted her life very successfully until now. She and I were with my sister the day her cancer was diagnosed, and I saw an immediate and profound change in my mother's abilities to think and process information. Whereas she was slightly scatter-brained before the trauma we both suffered at learning of my sister's grave illness, afterward she became so distracted and grief-stricken that she lost her ability to function. At first, I attributed her lack of cognitive ability to grief, distraction, or perhaps PTSD. But now, over a year later, she has not recovered her short term memory function and I am wondering if she could have experienced some sudden physiological damage. Would it be possible for a person to be so stressed and traumatized psychologically that it could cause a stroke? Is there any other physiological condition that could be brought on by stress that would suddenly impair mental function? I have discussed my mother's problem with her primary care physician, who put her on Alzheimer's drugs (Aricept and an antidepressant, I think) without giving her an MRI or performing any other tests that I know of. I can not see much improvement in her condition from these drugs. What else can we do to help get her the correct diagnosis and treatment? Thank you. Gilda BB
P.S. I posted this question in another forum as well (Stress) I hope I haven't broken the rules to ask for help in more than one thread. This is my first experience with this site.
There are several things that should be done before considering Alzheimer's drugs. A B-12 level screen for starters. Then B-12 within folic acid, a simpole multi-vitamin, and maintenance of a hydration log (Did he bother to take orthostatic vital signs?) and careful monitoring of blood sugar for a month. Then a minimum of 1000mg of omega-3 fish oil and a spoon of cod liover oil every day. And a precise nutritional log. And plenty of sunshine. When I read about alleged physicians jumping to Aricept and antidepressants without thought I am dismayed. Often stress effects appetite and nutrition. It is possible there are structural defects and infarcts, but drugs should be the last, and not the first resort. As for breaking the "rules" get a copy of "Fate is the Hunter" by Ernest Gann. "Rulebooks are paper". I have a loving woman I care for who is almost 103 and her cognitive function is very sensitive to hydration. Forget about her "primary care physician". You need a physician who is a specialist in gerontology. I don't mean to diminish his ability (prescribing without reason is the norm), but the new specialty in geriatrics has been a long time coming. There are now emergency wars specializing in the elderly, just as there are stroke centers, and these people need expertise that is just not always available by the "family" physician.
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