“I am Dr Fuad. The one who called both of you earlier today.” He says to both of us. He turns to me as if listening to my silent cries. “Your mum is all well. She is in the room at the end of the corridor,” he added.
We follow the doctor’s lead to the room. At the door, he pauses and turn to look at us. His eyes soften, knowing that this is something hard for both of us.
We enter the room. I expected to see a heart monitor, an oxygen tank and tubes being inserted to my mum’s body but there was none. She was not even wrapped in bandages, not a single scar on her skin. All I see is the woman whom I so dearly love laying in bed peacefully. She looks calm. Again, a wave of confusion hits me.
Dr Fuad turns to us and he manages a faint smile. He takes a deep breath. I guess he is human after all. I thought. It is not something he takes for granted. My heart softens as I see his difficulty in delivering the news. Then he speaks in a low voice, almost a whisper.
“I understand this is hard for both of you but I believe that the two of you are strong to bear this. I can see that. Your mother.. As a doctor, I have to give her the credit. She accepted the news well and I believe that bravery goes down to the two of you too.”
“Yes, she is the only one we have left as you may have figured. I – I honestly have no idea what is she having. I expected a car accident of some sort but here she is, in one whole piece.”
Dr Fuad nods and begins to explain. “I was told she lives with you, Alisha. Is that correct?”
“Then you would be the one who would have noticed most of her behaviour lately. Anything unusual that you can recall?” he asks.
“Unusual?” I search my mind for anything unusual I may have seen but I can’t seem to recall any. If there is any even. Perhaps the doctor is wrong. Mum is perfectly fine.
“I am afraid your mother has been diagnosed of Alzhiemer. You may have noticed that she keeps forgetting things. She told me she have trouble remembering where she put the keys, forgetting the laundry, the iron. She also mentioned about the burnt cookies.”
I see my sister’s forehead creases. Clearly, we have no idea what Alzhiemer is. Plus all these things she forgets seems something normal anyway.
He adds on, “I was about to leave for work when I saw hear earlier this morning. I found her crying on the street in front of my house. She parked by the side of the road. She looked dioriented and completely lost. I approached her and asked if there was anything I could help. She told me she was supposed to pick up her daughter but she couldn’t remember the way that leads to the school.”
My heart beats harder and I find myself trying to find something to hold on. To support me from collapsing. I am not sure if I am ready to hear what comes next. My sister leans against the wall close to her. Perhaps as an effort to not collapse too.
“She is still in the early stage,” the doctor pause, unsure of whether or not to continue.
“How bad can it get? Can she get better?” my sister asks. Her voice breaks.
“With Alzheimer at the later stage, patient may sometimes have difficulty with their personal history. Gaps in memories and may need help in doing simple tasks like dressing, showering, going to the toilet. However, we do have medication and therapies to help the patients,” he says. I can just pick his uncertainty at the edge of his voice. “There are no real cures but..” He continues to speak.
I try to remember how to breathe. The room spins around me and I am seeing two doctors now. No, actually, perhaps two and a half.. He is saying something but I cannot make out a word. I feel gravity pulling me, a hand on my back and then everything turns black.