The first thing we did was to read the package that Boris’s new medicine, Aricept, came in. The same day he told me about his diagnosis, he handed the folder to me and said, “Here, you need to read this.” He had already read it Later, he reminded me again. When I finally pulled myself together enough to look at it, I found the 8 stages of Alzheimer’s listed. My heart sank.
“But he’s only in the first stage, “ I told myself. The statistics read that the average life expectancy of an Alzheimer’s patient is eight years. “We can beat that,” I told myself. But in my heart I really feared that it would move much more quickly. I would lose him sooner.
Taking the Aricept wasn’t a success story. That first night, Boris had a horrible nightmare. He woke me saying he had dreamed that I was catching him as he fell. The next night was another nightmare. He was exhausted and upset; he quit taking the medicine.
I knew there was nothing I could do to change his mind. When Boris has made up his mind about something, there’s no changing it.
He threw away his cholesterol medicine too.
As we told close friends of his illness, they of course all believed that there is a magic medicine – Aricept. But I had to explain to them that it’s not a cure. It only serves to slow the disease, and doctors aren’t even sure if it does what it purports to do, or how much more time it might give him. When I said he wasn’t taking it, of course they were very concerned. Several friends tried to get us to go to specialists … to a memory center at Penn. But Boris would have none of it. He adamantly resisted testing or treatment.
He went without medicine for over a year. Then he went for his annual physical, and by this time his resolve was changing as his personality was altering. He was more susceptible to suggestions and was becoming so much more forgetful. So he came home with a new medicine to try.
A day or so later, he asked me, “Didn’t the doctor give me some medicine to take? Was it for a cold?” I explained what it was.
He willingly took the pills daily, but there was a very negative side effect. Going to the bathroom became an issue. I went to see our doctor who changed it to the Exelon Patch, which worked better. Does the patch make a difference? We have no idea. It can’t reverse the memory loss; we can only hope it slows the progress. Each day he changes the patch and checks the day off on a chart. And many days he asks me what the patch is for. I say the same words, “It’s to help your memory.” He accepts my words but I know that he’s skeptical.