Get a second opinion!

At the risk of stepping on my lede, something my Editors have warned me against, let me say: GET A SECOND OPINION.

it was five years ago today that my wonderful wife, already suffering from Alzheimer’s, collapsed with an abscess on her intestine.

For two weeks the hospital, as I slept on a couch in her room. Discharged, Jean came home only to relapse and back into the hospital for another two weeks of antibiotics and I living on her couch.

After those two weeks, the Surgeon called me to a private conference, and told me “She is too weak for surgery, and if she were my wife, I would place her in Hospice and let her pass, quietly.”

After breaking down, because Jean and I are one person occupying two bodies, I called in Hospice.

My best friend, a brilliant Physician and former Professor of Engineering at Case Western, visited us regularly, and visiting Jean in our bedroom one day, he said, “Alan, I have placed a lot of patients in Hospice, and Jean is not ready to die. GET A SECOND OPINION.”

I told him I had no idea how to do that, and he said he would arrange it, which he did, and the “Second Opinion” placed Jean in a new hospital. That elicited two more weeks of antibiotics, a new Surgeon and a new antibiotic still failing, said he must operate.

He did, and Jean holds my hand still today. Her quality of life is good and she gives the family great pleasure. Only her Alzheimer’s steadily robs her memory, but she suffers no physical pain and I have wonderful 24/7 Caregivers to limit her frustration.

Their wonderful care over the years made them part of the family. Here, another piece of advice..I pay my Caregivers twice the going rate so they can afford to only work for us, giving Jean the continuity and familiarity that Alzheimer patients so desperately need.

I am so happy that she is still with us. Always get a second opinion!