Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From Dolores in Connecticut


My name is Dolores.  I am Glenn's mother.  My husband, Dick, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease on June 28, 1989.  He was 55 years old. He died on July 23, 2002.  I will be running with Glenn on May 19th, not physically, but in my mind, my heart and my prayers.

My story:
In 1989, a co-worker and good friend of my husband called me on two different occasions to tell me that Dick needed a vacation.  I didn't know why he told me that because Dick and I were having a wonderful life.  It wasn't until Dick told me he thought he had had a stroke, and a good tennis player friend of mine was struggling with a brain tumor, that I easily talked my husband into getting a physical because I was worried about a tumor possibility.  I got a call from the doctor on June 28 that Dick was diagnosed with  Alzheimer's Disease.  It was only after the diagnosis that I could go back a couple of years and noticed losses but at the time, the losses seemed insignificant.  The degree of loss he had at home would be significant in the office. The co-worker was right.  He saw what was happening to my husband before I did.

There is so much I could say about the toll this disease takes on the victim, the family, and the country, physically, emotionally and financially but  I decided instead to focus on the horror the disease inflicts on the victim.

In the past, people have told me that the caregiver suffers more than the victim.  It's nice to be recognized and given credit, and yes, we do suffer, but there is no comparing the caregiver's suffering with the victim's suffering.

There are two things I would like to say.  First, we have all experienced the frustration of misplacing keys, cell phone, or anything else.  IMAGINE IF ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE ARE "MISPLACED, DAY AND NIGHT".

Second, we take care of ourselves all day long, 24/7.  If we're hot, we take off our sweater.  If we're cold, we put one on.  If we're thirsty, we drink.  If we're hungry, we eat.  If the covers come off us at night while we are sleeping, we know how to get them back on (or play tug of war with your spouse) and not lie there cold and shivering all night..  If we're in pain or discomfort in any way, we can deal with it and not have someone else guess what your needs are.  I don't know how long my husband suffered with a toothache, weeks or months, until blood drizzled out of his mouth one day when I was with him.  The tooth was abcessed.  He had to wear a helmet all day because he was so bent over that he bumped his head constantly on the walls or corner of walls.  It wasn't until one day I tried the helmet on and got in excrutiating pain immediately because the helmet made me feel my head was in a vise.  He wore this helmet for months.  I thought he was just agitated,  I didn't know he was in horrible pain. I could go on and on.  This all sounds very insignificant but it is not.  THIS DISCOMFORT OR PAIN IS ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY, EVERY MONTH AND EVERY YEAR.

Please join me in contributing to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund.

Thank you.

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