Later that day, Jack watched while Dr. Fallon grimly examined Sara, took samples of her blood, and performed a few mental tests. When the examination was over, he brought them into his office and tried to be optimistic, but warned them the situation could be grave. Following his recommendations, they consulted a neurologist and a psychiatrist. She went for a MRI of her brain.
Several stressful weeks passed before all of the test results and consultation reports were in. They returned to Dr. Fallon’s office and he explained the diagnosis. He was blunt, left no room for misunderstanding, and told them what to expect.
Jack refused to believe it. “I want a second opinion,” he said. “I want her to see the best specialists we can get. We’ll go to Boston, to New York. Nobody in our family has ever had Alzheimer’s disease. Find something else. You have to do more tests.”
Sara sat by his side and clung to his hand. An air of despondency descended upon her. Silent, she studied the doctor’s face.
“I wish I could tell you otherwise, Jack, but there is no single test to diagnose Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Fallon explained. “We’ve done all the tests available to rule out other conditions that might explain Sara’s symptoms. Everything indicates probable Alzheimer’s, and there’s nothing more to do.”
“You say it’s ‘probable,’” Jack argued. “See? You’re not sure. It could be something else.”
Dr. Fallon leaned toward Jack and looked deep into his eyes. “Jack, right now all I can say is that it is probable, because only an autopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis.”
Jack had no words to respond to that suggestion.
The doctor wrote a prescription for a medication that might slow the progression of the disease and they agreed to try it.
“Sara,” Dr. Fallon said, turning toward her, “the best you can do is live one day at a time, and try to maintain as much of your routine and lifestyle as possible.” He encouraged them to go on with the operation of their bed and breakfast for as long as they felt able, and he urged Sara to continue with her artwork.
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