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10 years ago, after major, major surgery and pain meds, my husband began to decline mentally. 5 years ago I went away for 10 days and had to have someone come to stay with him (he said he was going to take a road trip by himself during that time). He got so bad I had to help him dress. This past March, when I had to have surgery, he seemed to "snap out of it" so he could take charge. There remains some long-term problems, like short term memory, motor skills, and following directions, but his mental capacity seems to have come to near normal.

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Is it possible that he had delirium rather than dementia? Post operative--or rather post-anaesthetic --I had a delerium of six months duration. During that time I experienced some of the things you are talking about with regards to your husband but I don't remember a thing about those six months even though I was "walking/talking". In fact one neurologist I went to see came out of his office to meet me because he could not believe that someone showing so much brain damage as per the MRI COULD actually walk/talk.

The last factual thing I remember was going into the OR mid December. The next thing I was really aware of was six months later when I realized that I was in New Zealand on vacation. That was about 17 years ago and I still have some symptoms--like not being able to judge distances. That makes it easy for me to find in my car in the parking lot-- it is either sticking out in front of or behind all the other cars!!

All my "delirium" experiences were very real to me. It was "reality" that I had the problem with. I remember nothing factual from those six months because my brain was simply incapable to registering experiences. Along with, or as a cause of, my delirium, I was diagnosed with leucoencaphalopathy which basically meant that all my white brain cells were mush. My husband was told that I would never ever be able to work again--or at least, not as a nurse.

Just to prove them wrong --and not to boast in any way, but to prove the point--not only did I go back working as a nurse but I also attained my national (Canadian) certification as an Oncology Nurse Specialist, Hospice Palliative Care Nurse Specialist, got an undergraduate degree in Nursing (BSCN), followed by a masters degree in nursing (MN) and am now studying for my doctorate (ABD!!).

One year after my surgery/anaesthetic the MRI of my brain was totally "normal"--whatever normal means!! The 17 years in between have not been easy because I was left with a severe depression and PTSD because of some of the trauma I experienced but I am still here, still doing the best I can given my circumstances.

This may not help you with the situation with your husband but is sure helped me to write this down, to admit to what happened to me because I never quite got over the shame of the original misdiagnosis of "attention-seeking". Generally speaking an MRI and neuro-psych testing are rarely incorrect-- which is more that I could say for the physician who made my original "diagnosis". Never say die!!!!
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Well it doesn't sound like it went into remission entirely. What it does sound like is that your illness knocked him out of a depressive state. Suddenly he felt needed and in charge. Let him keep feeling that way.
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My mother can be clear as a bell on some subjects (usually stuff that happened 60-70 years ago) yet cannot remember where her glasses are or if she took her meds or ate lunch. Dementia is such a varied dx--I think there isn't a one size fits all category for it. (Mother ALWAYS got much worse during a UTI--that is common.)
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My experience was that my husband appeared to emerge from Alzheimer's symptoms, but the change was temporary and probably caused by medication that lifted depression. At the time, we were engaged, but not living together, and I wasn't aware of his medical history. I'm still glad we had several years together and that I was his caregiver.
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There are literally dozens of causes of symptoms of dementia, a few of which (such as B12 deficiency, infection and removable masses) are reversible. There are also all sorts of other neurological and psychological conditions which could affect your husband's ability to cope and, of course, could also hypothetically combine with one or more forms of dementia - Pam's suspecting of chronic depression would be a good example, especially after traumatic surgery.

But nobody "snaps out" of the commonest forms of dementia that tend to spring to mind - such as Alzheimers Disease and vascular dementia - even in the very stressful circumstances you describe; and particularly not once these horrible diseases have been on the scene for ten years.

So whatever is going on with your husband, it isn't a classic presentation of a typical dementia. You mention on another thread that his MD has "sprung" a series of mini mental state tests on him, which he consistently passes. What other neurological and psychological investigations have been done or considered? What other changes - for example, in his medications or his underlying health - have there been?

What was the major, major surgery about, if you don't mind my asking?
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First let me say, what a blessing that change has brought to both of you, enjoy every moment as I'm sure you are. I would have to agree with the above comment that nobody "snaps out" of dementia. With that said, perhaps there was a misdiagnosis and that is what needs to be addressed now. I have noticed with my mom that she will plateau for a while and then the digression continues. She has been on a continual digression over the past 6 months. But, there are still moments (and I do literally mean moments) that she is with me. Enjoy you husband and your time together. My prayers are with you both.
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I would have a pharmacist look at his medication history--some meds have memory issues as a side effect (ex: statin drugs).
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Cathberry: So proud of you!!!!!
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Alzheimer's will never go into remission. There are other forms of dementia though; there is also depression which is treatable. Perhaps he should see a doctor and get evaluated.
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Did your husband ever get a diagnosis? Mental decline post surgery and anesthesia is common. It often is linked to depression associated with the very long road to recovery associated with major surgery. Not everyone has the will to make the necessary lifestyle changes. Also, men are especially prone to depression and mental decline when major surgery affects their manhood/manliness.
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