At our recent annual check up, NP Stephanie suggested Ralph might qualify for a study on the use of Ritalin to treat apathy.
Apathy is clearly an issue for Ralph as it is for so many others dealing with Alzheimer’s. Or at least “apathy” is the quick way I, and evidently plenty of others, have described the increasing indifference and lethargy that occurs in those on the Alzheimer’s spectrum.
So barring a cure, finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s apathy is obviously a good idea. Sitting in Stephanie’s office, I agreed immediately that we should see if Ralph qualifies for the study. Stephanie called the clinical research nurse in charge hoping we could meet right away, but after an unsuccessful game of phone tag, she left the nurse a message with my contact info and we came home. A few days later I missed a call from the nurse. I called back. Soon we began our own game of phone tag that lasted two weeks. Then two or maybe three days ago, the nurse and I finally talked. She described a 6-month blind study requiring one daily pill that may or may not be Ritalin and a monthly visit to Emory. Not exactly demanding. While we were on the phone she went ahead and emailed me forms. I was to read them and get back to her with dates we could meet in the next two weeks.
Of course, I’ll get back to you right away, I told her as we hung up.
Except as hours and then days passed, I put off opening her e-mail.
But every time I glanced at the little red number 1 signifying an unopened e-mail on both phone and computer, I couldn’t help thinking, Do I really want to be bothered? Is the minor possibility of improvement worth the effort?
But those questions were only a cover as I toyed with darker thoughts. Will Ralph be more trouble if he is less passive? Is it easier for me just to let him float further out to sea?
Then this morning, I got around to opening another email, this one from the Healthy Aging Study in which I participate. There were two short surveys, one on “resilience” and the other on “purpose”. Resilience was a piece of cake; I could tell my coping answers were fine. But as for purpose, ugh, I hated those questions I couldn’t avoid answering honestly—like “Disagree Highly” with having goals I look forward to accomplishing.
I have had to face that I have the apathy problem. Or rather we both do. But I’m the one making decisions for Ralph.
So with admitted reluctance, I emailed the research nurse back …actually the emails have been flying as I write this, multi-tasking semi-whiz that I am …and his appointment for initial testing to see if he even qualifies is scheduled for next Wednesday. I have added it to my calendar and his.
And now I actually feel much better, having passed, if barely, my test as good caregiver.
(And yes, if my overall mood does not lift, I promise I will deal with it.)