Monday, January 30, 2012

It Could Be Worse....

It could be worse...  as I have written before, there are alot of people in situations alot worse than mine.  Moreover, while I may have been one of the unlucky ones among the 500,000 Americans who have been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's (as defined by having a confirmed case and being under 65) at least I have some (undetermined) amount of lucid time left to enjoy life and know that I am... in other words, I have not exactly misplaced all my marbles yet...   (okay... maybe one or two... but I have a big bag of 'em)

However to give you some understanding of  how this disease can effect lives even younger than mine I refer you to a story a couple of Saturdays ago in the Arizona Republic... Dr. Flitman, the neurologist mentioned in the article, is also my doctor.    Click on this link please...

It begins... "Donna Baker just turned 50, and she can't remember how to tie her shoes."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tackling Alzheimers...

Given this time of year as the Superbowl approaches, it seems appropriate that we begin this entry with a football metaphor so this post is entitled "Tackling Alzheimer"s", but the truth is that the post's title is borrowed from a recent Diane Rehm program of the same name which was broadcast on 18 January 2012. If you have the time, I urge you to listen to the hour broadcast for an update on the status of this disease and the surprising lack of priority and research funding as compared to say, to the fight on cancer, when the growth of Alzheimer's disease poses a much greater threat to America's aging population and its ever diminishing resources... please click on the blue title text below for the audio... speakers on...

Dementia is poised to become a defining disease of a rapidly aging population _ and a budget-busting one for Medicare, Medicaid and families. The Obama administration is developing the first national Alzheimer's plan to combine research aimed at fighting dementia with help for caregivers. Around the country, thousands of families are pleading for changes to improve early diagnosis and help keep loved ones at home instead of in nursing homes.

Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly five million Americans a year. But that number is expected to triple in coming years as our population ages. The cost of treating sufferers is also predicted to rise – to $1 trillion by 2050. For many years, Alzheimer's struggled to achieve the funding levels of more prominent diseases. And breakthroughs have been few and far in between. Now, the White House has brought together a team of experts to develop a national plan of action for the illness. Join us to discuss what the new plan will mean for sufferers, their families and the medical community.


Robert Egge vice president of public policy at the Alzheimer’s Association

Dr. Scott Turner professor of neurology and Director of the Memory Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center

Deborah Rubenstein director of consultation, care management and counseling, Iona Senior Services

Howard Koh Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Wonder and Memory of... Grandchildren

One thing I will be most grateful for before I finally slip away will be the memories of the time I spent with Elliot, our first grandchild. There's a tendency to spoil the first grandchild and we are no different... but if you watch and listen to this recent photo montage with music of Elliot, you'll understand why. Kudos and gratitude to Heather Bergen, the photographer...speakers on please... click on the song title...

"I Hope You Dance"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dreamy Reality

Since beginning the AZ medications, I sleep fitfully and wake often. But I dream often and vividly about all sorts of topics... some I can remember and some I cannot. But as we all know, as this disease progress, we become more divorced from reality and more insular within our dreams...but is this what remains inside the mind when we completely leave reality?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is Suicide...? ... Really Painless....?

This week's local news included word that Bill Heywood and his wife Susan, had committed suicide in a local Scottsdale motel. Mr. Heywood was a long time and beloved radio personality and his wife was, at one time a successful business person, very active in local charities, including helping to save many homeless animals. After Mr. Heywood's radio career ended, he became active in real estate. The economic downturn had its effects on him as it has on many others. Susan became very ill. Apparently they both began to believe that life together on the Other Side was better than continuing to challenge life on this side...

Then yesterday, one of my step-sons came with news that one his young female friends, a woman who had been a room-mate at one time, had also also committed suicide this week. She had been depressed. I could tell this was especially sad for him for he has lost several close friends in this way in the last few years. Who can ever explain the WHY of these actions?

Having served in the military a long time, I have seen my share of death and its effects on the survivors. One duty I dreaded the most was having to serve as a "Casualty Notification Officer". The one case that still haunts me the most was having to tell a young mother at 6 AM that her husband was dead. Her standing there in her front door in her robe, crying, with a three year old girl clinging to her side, is a vision I still carry with me.

My military training, like that of police officers, firemen, and EMS people, taught me that the best way to deal with such bad news is with stoicism. If I can maintain my outward self control and inner strength, I can press through this crisis with a minimal amount of emotional pain.

This lack of open ability to share feelings openly has been a problem at times with Mindy and with others. It's not that I am not sharing their pain or not hurting from some painful disagreements or passages, it's just that I am conditioned to contain those feelings. It's a fault that sometimes prevents me from showing the real feelings in my heart to others who care about me.

Suicide is, in fact, VERY painful... perhaps not so much for those who chose this path, but especially for those left behind. They is always that question of WHY? Why did they do that?Sometimes they leave a note to try and explain their motives, sometimes not. Either way, it usually makes it no less difficult for those left behind to understand.

Considering the incurable course of my own disease, I would be dishonest to say that I have not considered it in order to relieve my family and society of the inevitable burden I will become. But I hope I still have several more years to see the sun rise and set (and to understand that it IS rising or setting...), so it is not an option I hold close. At the same, I wish society and the medical world were more open to allowing people like me, or those with incurable diseases to create an "exit directive" when certain mutually agreed upon criteria are met... but that is currently not our way unfortunately.

I sometimes joke with Mindy that when my mind is nearly lost, ...when I cannot remember anyone or anything, then that would be the day to "pull the trigger" sort to speak. She reminds me that it is more likely that when that day arrives... I will have forgotten it.

We all hold our own lives in our own hands, what we chose to with it... is what we chose.

I'll close this thought with the theme song and the original lyrics from "Mash" the popular 1970 film. "Suicide is Painless".

But... in the end... is it really?

Suicide Is Painless

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...


That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's too late, and...


The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat.


The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows it grin, but...


A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
'is it to be or not to be'
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'

'Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
...and you can do the same thing if you choose.

wow this is hard

I wish people were better educated about early stage ad. Denial is part of it. Defensive, angry behavior is part of it. I realize that people are trying to be kind to Ed when they tell him he seems the same. But really his AD already shows up in the brain with an MRI. I can over hear him talking and not getting things 100 percent. The doctor says it is not uncommon at this stage for a patient to wipe away their entire savings by lack of judgement. One of my clients father in the early stages thought her mother was having an affair and was insufferable with her, until the brain began to turn off. I think since I have only been married a short time to Ed that it makes this harder. We don't have the history and the years behind us for a strong foundation. It is not in my character to not step up to the plate...but I wonder what would happen to him if I didn't. I have a good support system in my family...but I wonder why all you good friends out there of Ed's haven't called me to see what is really going on. I guess most folks again do not truly understand how this beginning stage shakes out, but it makes me sad. Please educate yourselves so that Ed and I can get all the right kind of suppot we need....Melinda