Meeting Kate’s New Doctor

We are very fortunate to have an excellent gerontologists’ practice here. My mother and father were the first in our family to be patients there. That was 1998. Two years later Kate’s mother joined them. My mother died in 2002, and my dad had a significant other who became a patient. Kate became the next member of our family to go there. She had an excellent doctor who left the practice two years ago. Kate then switched to the same doctor that treated Dad. He was recently assigned to hospital duty. This past Tuesday Kate had her first appointment with her new doctor.

In advance of the appointment I sent the doctor an update on Kate. I have done that before each appointment for the past several years. It enables me to give the doctor an accurate picture of what is happening and the changes that have occurred since her previous appointment. I feel it is a better way to communicate than talking with Kate in the room.

I was very pleased with the new doctor. I went in with high expectations and discovered they were justified. My only previous connection with her was about six years ago when I spoke with her on the phone about my dad. She was on weekend duty and took my call to the office. I don’t remember why I had to call her or what she told me. I just remember that I was impressed with the way she handled my call.

Kate’s appointment yesterday was a simple checkup, not her annual physical. The doctor spent an hour with her. Most of that time she focused on getting acquainted with Kate. Very early in the conversation, she told Kate she would be asking her a variety of questions and would address some of them to me if that would be all right with her. This is one of the things I like about this practice. All of the doctors are very careful to make sure their patients feel they can express their own thoughts about what they are experiencing. That is difficult with Kate because of her memory loss. For example, on the way to the appointment, she complained about pain in her knee where her arthritis is beginning to cause her problems again. She didn’t remember to tell the doctor. When the doctor gave me a chance to make a few observations, I was able to bring that up.

Kate was quite comfortable in the doctor’s office. She was especially talkative with the doctor’s nurse who took her vitals before we saw the doctor. The doctor got to see a bit of her confusion about our relationship. Kate told the doctor that I was her uncle. She looked at me. My expression must have conveyed that wasn’t right. She asked me if that was right. I said, “Actually, I am your husband.” She was surprised. As we were leaving, she said goodbye to each of the staff we passed in the hallway.

It was a good visit. Her next visit is in four months. We had just started that schedule with her previous doctor. That seemed to make sense to me. Except for her arthritis, her problems are those associated with her Alzheimer’s. She seems to be following an expected set of changes that accompany that diagnosis. That is enough to deal with. I am glad we don’t have any other complicating issues facing us as yet.

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