Thursday, December 23, 2010

Alzheimer's...Is this really "living"?

Ever since I got that terrible news, my mind has kind of been in a fog.  "Did he really say that I had Alzheimer's?"  The questions still remains unanswered.  How do you deal with news like that?  Personally, I don't think that I have been doing well, as far as coping with this is concerned.  I don't really have a life anymore.  Every waking second is consumed with my Alzheimer's.  (My Alzheimer's!  That's a hell of a thing to try to grasp.  This is the first time that I've actually referred to it as "mine".)  It's always lurking in the back of my mind.  How long do I really have?  I'm not taking about how long I'll live, I want to get a ballpark idea on how much time I have with all my marbles intact.  How long will I be able to continue being ME?  How long will I be able to work, how about being able to read and more importantly, how long will I be able to write?  How am I going to be able to provide for my wife, so that she will be able to live fairly comfortably after I am gone?  People tend to think that they can take care of those things later.  The problem is that I don't have a "later" anymore! 

Scherry made an appointment with a Neurologist that the Alzheimer's Association referred us to in a couple of weeks.  Scherry told me that this Neurologist specializes in Alzheimer's.  That is the earliest that I could get in.  I want to actually get a copy of my MRI and CAT scan X-Rays and have the Neurologist look at those instead of just reading the findings.  I want her to show me what is going on inside of my head!  I can feel what's going on, my headaches are more frequent now.  At least the intensity varies, so that I am not hurting as much all of the time. 

But the emotional agony is constant.  Just a few weeks ago, I was joking that my next fifty years are going to be better than my first fifty.  I had made some plans, some big plans.  I had dreams!  I had goals!  Now what am I left with?  I had started a business and just got my business cards about a week before I found out about the Alzheimer's.  Now what do I do?  What will I be able to do?  The uncertainty is maddening!  All of these thoughts are going constantly through my head all of the time.  How does a person escape from this constant uncertainty and worry?  A week off would be nice.  Couldn't I just take a week off from the Alzheimer's worries once in a while?

Having seen Alzheimer's progress, I realize that soon I will lose my memories, my identity, my very essence.  All that will be left will be a shell of my former self.  It will be like my soul just decided to take off and leave my body behind.  I don't know what kind of personality this person will have.  I am afraid that all the wonderful memories that Scherry has of our life together will be forgotten as she has to deal with what is left of me.  On a lighter note, I mentioned this concern to Scherry and told her that we need to name this guy so that he won't be confused with me, because frankly, he may be nothing like me at all.  Scherry chose the name "Zippy".  Now it's kind of a running joke with us.  You know what they say, if you don't laugh about it you're going to cry.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So, You've got Alzheimer's...

Those words!  Why the hell did my Doctor have to say "those words"!  How exactly, is a person suppose to deal with something like that?  I watched my wife, Scherry, as she suffered as she lived through the hell of watching her mother destroyed by the disease.  I've told people that Alzheimer's isn't even the kind of thing that you would wish upon your worst enemy!  Of all the diseases that you can get, that is the LAST ONE, you would want to get.   But I've got it!  I guess it figures, though, when I think about it.  That is exactly how my life goes.  I get to have some fun in my Manic phase.  That's when I make all of these great plans to do a lot of good stuff, some major accomplishments, to have some fun.  Then this, the overflow from the toilet of life.  How am I suppose to deal with that?  My wife thinks that it hasn't totally sunk in yet.  I think that she might be right.  It knocks the wind right out of you, but what do you do next? 

My headaches have been getting more frequent and more severe. So I went to my Doctor and got an MRI.  I was expecting a brain tumor.  I was already bracing myself for that.  I had my little pep talk prepared.  I was going to fight it and I was going to WIN!  How do you fight a battle that can't be won?

What about poor Scherry?   She has already been through that hell already.  How is she going to go through it again?  How can I ask her to do that?  I gave her an "out".  I told her that she could walk away and that I wouldn't hold it against her or have any hard feelings.  However, she says she will stay and that she will be there for me.  "It's in the vows," she says, "for better and for worse, in sickness and in health". She is willing to endure the private hell that loved ones of Alzheimer's patients have to fight through. 

She says that I won't suffer, that when I progress to the last stages, I won't even know what is going on.  I don't agree.  I think that the Alzheimer's patient realizes that they are literally losing their minds but can't do anything about it.  I guess I will find out.  However, once I've lost most of my marbles, how will I be able to communicate what I am feeling or thinking? 

What if she dies before I start going through the final stages?  I don't have any children of my own.  Who will be there to hold my hand?  Who will be there to comfort me as I slowly lose my mind?