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Our doctor recently ordered that my Dad's intake of Dilantin medication be reduced. Dilantin is an anti-epileptic/anti-convulsant drug which Dad has needed since his first seizure a year ago September. One of its common side-effects, which is really unfortunate for people trying to cope with dementia, is mental cloudiness and confusion. It has made life more difficult for Dad than it needed to be, and for us - his caregivers - as well.

Within the last couple weeks we heard from our doctor that Dad should be administered one less Dliantin pill per day, and both Mom and I have been surprised at the results. On the negative side, Dad experiences tremmors in his arms and legs because of the reduced level of Dilantin in his system. But the positive changes have been the most outstanding. It's his increased mental clarity that has encouraged him and us! How does this look in real life? He's able to buckle himself up in the car without incident, and is able to find the car door handle most of the time. He wasn't able to do these things before his Dilantin reduction. He is much more articulate, using more sophisticated words and expressing himself a little faster and more clearly. Since starting on Dilantin Dad has woken up and wandered throughout the apartment several times every night, always watched by Mom to make sure he didn't get lost. With the reduction in Dilantin, his nightly wandering routine has shortened; Mom says getting him back to bed is easier now. He is also more self-aware, and aware of his health situation. He is slightly more able to reason, and is also a little better at holding his own in a conversation. He isn't recovered, mind you. But any improvement is worth celebrating, especially when we feel like we've gotten a little piece of our Dad back, and Dad feels more empowered to hope.

Tonight we had my parents and other family members over for a low-key dinner. Before heading out the door, Dad turned around and said to our guests, "You know, I want to tell you something," and proceeded to share his joy and optimism at these recent improvements in his life. It's a joyful point in a painful, exhausting roller-coaster. So we cling to moments like these.