We had an appointment with a neurologist last week. It was our first appointment since moving E to Texas two years ago. She’s not needed to see a neurologist as she was fairly stable. But lately I’ve seen a few changes I wanted to address with a specialist.
I really liked this doctor. She had read all the information I had dropped off last week: med list, her office forms which I had completed, the Neuropsych Evaluation from the court proceedings (which spells out everything!), and my two page narrative of events since that NP report. She clearly understood the history of where we are and how we got here.
My two reasons for coming in: 1) Review meds and see if any changes are needed and 2) Confirmation that new things like increase sleeping and shuffling are part of the disease progression.
Yes, there are a couple of tweaks she wants to make to the med list. And, yes, increased sleeping during the day is normal for a person in Stage 6, and it’s okay so long as she sleeping at night as well.
Towards the end of the very long appointment, the doc addressed the shuffling. I was not happy with her answer. It caused me to press into Jesus yet again.
Three years ago E was found completely dehydrated and malnourished, weighing less than ninety pounds, and covered in feces and urine. Her sister was starving her to death on purpose because “dementia is hell and it would be better to starve to death than live with dementia.” I fought her in court and won. I saved E from the hell she was dying in.
But I wasn’t fast enough. I hadn’t saved her soon enough. I wish I had.
All of that is in the Neuropsych report I had given the doctor.
Yesterday I learned she is still suffering physically from being starved. There are long term affects of starvation that may appear years later.
The doctor started by saying, “We cannot change the past. What happened happened. We simply have to deal with the consequences.” She went on to tell me the shuffling E is experiencing is NOT caused by her dementia; it is NOT part of her disease. Her shuffling is a result of prolonged malnourishment. And there was nothing I could have done to stop it.
The nerves that tell her how far off the ground her feet are no longer function properly. They were permanently damaged by her prolonged malnutrition. Doc told me this is not uncommon in prisoners of war. The condition (confirmed by nerve tests) often appears three to five years after the starvation ends.
B12 may help slow the deterioration. We are doing blood tests to check her B12 levels.
But the reality is that this condition is not reversible.
In that moment I had a choice: anger and resentment OR acceptance and forgiveness.
Again I am faced with this familiar choice. Again I want to scream at her sister and make her pay. Again I want revenge. And again the Holy Spirit reminded me that vengeance is not up to me, that her sister is mentally ill, that E’s days were written in His book before one of them came to be, and that we who have been forgiven much must forgive much.
He also reminded me that I had done the best I could. I had tried for years to convince E to come live with us. It was her choice to move in and stay with sister. Once I knew what was happening I acted: I got authorities involved, I hired a lawyer and filed emergency court petitions. I practically moved to Denver, 11 hours from home, for months to fight for her and make sure she received the care she needed. And I had continued to fight for her through Covid and moved her into our home as soon as the courts allowed. I had done my best, and that had to be good enough. I cannot change the past. What happened happened. Now I had to deal with the results.
In that moment, there in the neurologist’s office, I made the decision to once again accept what I cannot change and forgive her sister. I chose to let it go. I once again accepted that I had done my best.
And then I listened as the doctor discussed ways to help E and what meds she thought needed changing. In that moment I made the choice to continue fighting for E.
I’m sure there will be more moments like this in the future. Starvation has long term affects. Abuse causes long term trauma. Isolation causes mental issues. I know these things. And I know that – for my sake and E’s – I must walk in forgiveness and grace, even for the sick woman who caused such pain.
God, help me walk in Your forgiveness and grace. Amen.