Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Parkinsons and Lewy Body disease

Our friend, John, has this nasty combination of debilitating conditions. Lewy Body is a form of dementia with hallucinations. Both diseases have progressed fairly rapidly and John is very confused most of the time. On Sunday night he lost the use of one of his legs and couldn't move. Joy, his wife, called an ambulance and took him to Fremantle Hospital thinking this might have been a stroke.

Fremantle Hospital gets a bit of a caning from the public and the press, but Joy was most impressed by the attention shown and the battery of tests performed. Unfortunately there were no beds available and he had to spend the night in emergency on a gurney. The next morning John became agitated and he was given a shot of Quetiapine, a drug used for calming aggressive dementia patients. Joy had previously used this drug in tablet form with bad results. Almost immediately John became very aggressive and was abusing nurses and doctors in very racist terms. Joy was very embarrassed at his out of character actions and had to leave.

Today the transformation was amazing. He was calm and talkative and seemed to know where he was and why he was there. He should be able to return home in a few days.

I have always thought that when people, including me, get intoxicated and say some outrageous things, that it was just the grog that loosened the tongue. With John, I have had to step back and look at that proposition again. John is certainly not racist. I have been a close friend for over 50 years and have never heard him utter any racist comments. Maybe alcohol as well as such drugs do alter a person's character and mood to the point where they do and say things completely out of character?

One of the TV shows that John likes to sit and watch is MASH and a friend who also knows John thinks that he may have seen the foreign faces of nurses and doctors as characters out of the series. I will talk with John and see if he remembers any of his ranting.

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