This is a very tough post for me to put out there. I am very hesitant to even share this online. However, there is something deep within me, telling me to share my story. Even if it is to help someone else who is struggling, watching a loved one suffer from this horrible disease, or to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s disease.
My mother has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. There I said it. Pull the band aid off quick and it won’t hurt. Truth is it hurts like hell. She has yet to be officially diagnosed. However watching her mother, my Grandmother, have the disease for 10 years and my paternal Grandmother have Dementia – I don’t need a doctor telling me what is happening.
She is 62 years old. There are many layers to her situation that I may or may not dig into them with this blog. She is on medication, her doctor is in touch with the situation, and my Dad and I are doing the best we can do to guide her through this scary time.
I am not writing this post looking for sympathy. I am looking for a solution.
I have always been the type to find the resolution to a problem and to fix it. Right now, this isn’t fixable. So I will put my own insecurities aside. I will stare down this evil disease in the eye, and do my best to bring awareness to finding a cure.
“Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of 8 years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from 4 to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions. (www.alz.org)
It is my hope that with enough awareness and funding a cure can be found sooner rather than later.
As Julianne Moore shared during her Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Actress for ‘Still Alice’,
“I am thrilled to be able to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease. So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized. One of the wonderful things about movies, it makes us feel seen and not alone. People with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen so that we can find a cure.”
Exactly 4 years to the date, my maternal Grandmother died of Pneumonia. I hate to say it was a blessing, but it was something I wished for, for a very long time. Wasting away in a nursing home, confused is not the way to live. It is harder on the family of loved ones that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. The last few years were very tough as we watched her slowly fade in front of our very own eyes. My own parents would visit her twice a week, to sit by her side and be there for her. Whether Nana knew it or not. I never realized the amount of strength and grace it took for my own Mother to do that, until now.
As for my Mother, something hasn’t be right for a while. She had a medical scare in 2012 that set off a series of events that led to this. I spent my 29th birthday in a Neurologist’s office, by her side as she sat through a 2 hour memory exam.
To my family members and friends who have known something is up. My Father, Chuck and I were honoring my Mother’s wishes to keep it quiet. When the confusion began, she didn’t want others to know. Now it cannot be hidden.
Last weekend, while visiting my parents’, my Mother asked if it was true that her Mother had passed away. Have you ever felt what it is like to be punched in the gut? Now I know. There were no tears from her, she was almost detached from the truth. I had to tell my own mother, as if she were a little child, that everything would be okay.
I know this won’t get easier. If anything it has taught me to be more present and enjoy life’s moments now.
I will not let my Mother’s memories (or my Grandmothers’ memories) go in vain.
I will be strong for her.
I will be her memory when she needs it.
I refuse to not try something.
My strength lies within my writing. So here is our story as a family, as we proceed through this difficult phase of life. Whether it results in self-healing, helping others’ or raise awareness, I hope our story can shed light on this horrific disease.
We need to be the voice and advocate for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Because to quickly they lose their own voice and ability to advocate for themselves.
If I have touched you in any way with our story, please, please, please donate.
Video Source: OscarsTV2015 YouTube