Dr. Who, dwarfed behind his massive desk, continued asking me questions. He didn’t include Dave in the conversation, so my immediate reaction was ‘I don’t like this guy.’ He simply dismissed my husband, assuming Dave was unable to understand and/or participate on any level. My dislike for Dr. Who grew into hostility. Tears welled in my eyes. An unmistakable lump developed in my throat. I felt as if we were being strangled. Taking a deep breath, I asked for water. Dr. Who pushed a button on his desk requesting water from someone, somewhere. Then he continued:
Dr. Who: “When did you first notice changes in Dave’s behavior?”
Me: “About seven years ago.”
Dr. Who: “Can you explain what you noticed?”
Me: “It started in 1988 when Dave became very negative. He worried constantly and overthought unimportant decisions.”
Me: ‘Uh’ … I pause, sip some water, and clear my throat. Once comfortable I began answering Dr. Who’s question but this time I included Dave in the conversation.
Me: “Dave, you know it’s been taking longer and longer for you to get ready for work in the morning? Right? The other day you missed the trolly and got to the office late.”
Dave: With a puzzled look on his face, “No.”
Me: “Dr. Who, this was not my punctual Dave!”
Dr. Who: “Please go on …”
Me: “It gets worse. In 1993, the night before our younger son left for college, Dave went upstairs to go to bed. Problem was our bedroom is downstairs.”
I take another sip of water, turn toward Dave, “Would you like a sip?” He smiles slightly, takes the water bottle from me and says, “No.”
Dr. Who: “So, that was back in 1993. It’s now 1996. Did anything else happen in the course of those three years that alarmed you?”
Me: “Yes. In 1994 we went on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate my 50th birthday. Dave’s confusion escalated. At one point I asked him, ‘Hon, do you know where we are?’ He answered, ‘No.’ That same year we signed up for tennis lessons. Although Dave had aways enjoyed tennis and had a killer serve, he couldn’t follow even a simple instruction. And it was during those three years that Dave’s ability to converse dwindled. Plus most recently he developed a visible facial tick.”
Dr. Who: “Well Mrs. Neustadt, in order to make a correct diagnosis, we need to rule out any number of disorders that may be causing your husband’s mental decline. I recommend starting with a brain scan.”
Me: “What kind of brain scan and how soon?”
Dr. Who: “We just happen to have a new, state of the art, Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine in the building. In fact, it’s right next door so we can run the scan today if you agree.”
Me: I glance at Dave. He has a faint glimmer of concern. “It’s going to be OK Honey, nothing will hurt, it’s just a test to help find out what’s causing your problems.”
Dr. Who: “Mrs. Neustadt, do you have time for us to perform the MRI now?”
So while Electra and her passengers remain on the tarmac conversing with Tardis who is, all the while, beeping and whirring, Dave and I are ushered next door to the radiology department where I am allowed to stay with Dave during the procedure. Draped in a heavy lead apron, I sit frozen with fear in a chair next to my husband and watch as the technician places him flat on his back. The narrow conveyor belt upon which Dave is lying begins to move, taking him backwards through an archway leading into a tight enclosure. I am reminded of the scary “Laff In The Dark” ride we had taken back in the days when scary rides were fun and games. But this was a different kind of scary ride cause it was real, not play.
All of a sudden there were sounds coming from the mean machine. They were LOUD and they were REPETITIVE. I was startled to attention just as I had been when I first heard the ominous opening tones of Beethoven’s 5th symphony! “TA TA TA DAAAA and again TA TA TA DAAA after which there was a pause before several more repetitions. When the four note staccato series was over it was followed by a high pitched SHRILL CRACKLING noise. Filled with anxiety I listened to the horror of this strange refrain for over an hour wondering, just as many music researchers had, was fate knocking on the door?
Stay tuned to learn more …
How can you breathe?
Jan, thanks for commenting. I couldn’t breathe. Have you ever had an MRI? If so, I hope you are comfortable sharing your reaction!
Yes, I have had a MRI. Very difficult for me since I do not like to be closed in. They prescribed a medication before so I might be more relaxed. Played music of my choice and continually updated me about how “great” I was doing, how much longer etc. Seemed like an eternity.
I had to mentally focus on something very demanding.
It’s wrenching reading this. How amazing how you are putting this horrendous experience on paper.
WOW! So great hearing from you Lillian. Haven’t we all had scary and heart wrenching experiences! Hopefully my writing and your reading will help us to reconnect! Seems like yesterday when my now 50 year old son Doug, fell at your home and developed a huge “egg” on his head! And I recall how wise you were to NOT HAVE GRASS in your front yard but rather indigenous plants. S0 ahead of your time!
You are so descriptive . It’s always worse when it’s someone you love!
Kathy – not sure which Kathy as there are several. Let know so I can thank you properly for responding.