Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Alzheimer's- the Demon within.....

Another change in my life.  Things don't stay the same, I know that, but I don't have to like it...and I don't.

Lunch with Emily has always been fun, but now there's a new twist and some new activities.  She's now in an assisted living facility....and very nice one, but not her home....She lets me know that almost every minute.

Today was my first experience with her in the assisted facility.  The staff were all very gracious and helpful.  The lunch was very...institutional...but nutritious and plenty.  If you wanted more you could ask for more.  I should be the one staying there...You get enough and you don't get a chance to be greedy or glutinous.....I'd lose weight.   Emily should gain weight because she sure hasn't been gaining weight, nor for that matter, keeping weight on at all lately.

It's sad when you have a loved one in any kind of facility.  Intellectually I know it's the right place for her right now and probably forever, but emotionally I have a feeling of grief... It's as though I've lost part of me. It's not that I'm thinking about my own mortality per se, but  something I always thought of as never changing has indeed changed and can never be put back to rights...

My cousin has been a part of my life since the day I was born.  She is 7 years my elder.  I am an only child and she is as close to a sister to me as I will ever have.  

She is the only person who shared my childhood bedroom.  She lived with me, my Mom and Dad from age 19 until she married and moved out at age 24.  You may not think that's a long time, but it was intensive and felt as though she always lived in our house. 

Time went on and we went our separate ways. Me to college, then my own marriage, Emily to build her home not far from me, but still not in the bed next to mine...We had children...We lived our lives different from one another, but we were still connected by the thread of family connection.  We saw each other sporadically over the years but managed to meet monthly for lunch and catch up on the goings on of each family. 

Our kids knew each other a bit, but they too had their own friends and families.  Still the thread connected all of us like an invisible lasso.  We could pull it together at times, weddings, funerals, graduations, but usually it was loosely held around us.  I thought it was like a safety belt, "just in case" we needed it.

As we've aged things have changed.  We remember the past as though it was yesterday, but Emily doesn't remember yesterday and that is frustrating to her.   Her sentence structure is sometimes non-existent...but that's OK...I can keep track...Her information is scattered all over her brain and it sometime takes hours to get it into the right order for more than just her understanding of what she's trying to say.  I can deal with that as well. 

I can handle things as they are as long as I know there is a safe place for her to be.  The place is safe.  She tries to escape out of every EXIT but the staff is on to her now, so she keeps them hopping..

Alzheimer's disease is a bitch.  There's no other word for it...It's a bitch.  In the case of my cousin, it's the family disease.  Luckily we're pretty sure it's her Mom's family and that will exclude me and mine from that particular strain, but who knows what the future holds for any of us?

My studies had me research the Dementia's and none of them were pretty to see or read about, but the beginnings of Alzheimer's, is a tougher deal...It's an insidious disease, it sort of creeps up on you when you're not looking.  If you have no other people in your family who have preceded you with this disease, you can lose time in getting a good diagnosis, and medication to help slow the progression....There is no cure, but some medications may help slow the spiral down that slippery slope where there's no turning back.

I know I must accept the cruelties of the disease, but I sure as Hell don't have to like that acceptance and I don't .

I'll keep visiting Emily, giving her my love and company and hope she continues to remember me as I remember her and the fun we've had over the last 68 years....