So… Ralph’s memory continued getting worse. He repeated conversations over and over. He forgot what day it was. He forgot business decisions. Then an acquaintance invited Ralph fishing in southern Louisiana. Ralph loves fishing and this was a fisherman’s dream trip: catching red fish all day, telling fish stories over great food and drink all night. Ralph was excited if a little nervous (ok, more than a little which I refused to take seriously), especially on the way to airport, but when he called from Louisiana the first night, he said the fishing was terrific and I could hear laughter in the background. I thought, great, he’s made some new friends. As soon as Ralph got home, he admitted the trip was torture. He could not keep track of names and faces. Worse he had trouble remembering which room was his. Smiling ruefully, he described finding excuses to leave the carousing so he could prowl the halls, poking his head into bedroom doors until he recognized his duffel bag and went to bed. Then he added the shocker: “I am going to make an appointment to see the doctor.” It was Ralph’s decision to see his doctor. Neither of us had considered the possibility that I should accompany Ralph to the appointment. Instead I printed out information I’d Googled about Lyme disease as a cause for memory loss. Still in denial, I told myself Ralph’s doctor would prescribe antibiotics to clear up the problem. “Andy seems to think it could be serious,” Ralph reported almost sheepishly. “He’s going to set up a test.” Andy called us the next night (never a good sign when a doctor calls you at home at night) and suggested we use separate extensions so I could record/remember what he said. He gave us the name of a highly respected neurologist specializing in memory issues but warned it would take months to get an appointment. In the meantime we arranged to meet with a neuropsychologist who could give Ralph a battery of tests for a preliminary diagnosis.
And just like that we fell down the rabbit hole.