This post was inspired by readers who asked me to interview my husband, Keith, as well as my children as to their reactions, feelings, concerns, and fears regarding my MCI.
To my readers: two days ago, while sitting at our kitchen table drinking coffee, I interviewed Keith. The following is a partial transcription of that conversation. I thought I knew exactly what his answers would be, but I was wrong. I learned a lot and felt my time was well spent. I hope you will feel the same after reading.
Now to begin…
Virginia: Keith, I want to interview you about how you’ve experienced my MCI. I’ll begin when I was initially diagnosed and move to the present. I’m asking you to share your emotions, fears, as well as the joys you’ve experienced as we live with my MCI—which by proxy has become your MCI as well. I know you will be honest and forthright with your responses because you feel as strongly as I do that by sharing our experiences, we may be able to help others. Are you ready to begin?
Keith: Yes, let’s get started.
V: Okay let’s start at the beginning: What was your initial reaction when you heard the doctor’s diagnosis that I had MCI?
K: I was and wasn’t surprised. I had been seeing symptoms of your memory loss for a while before we went to Mayo. You were forgetting words, names, and missing appointments; having trouble with your recipes turning out; you asked me to take over the finances, and there were other minor slips that were happening more frequently.
And then the children started to become concerned: calling me and giving me examples they recognized as being not right. They kept urging me to take you to Mayo.
V: I remember being surprised, angry and resistant when you suggested such, and said I was only agreeing to pacify you and the kids.
As to that initial appointment, do you think the doc did a good job of explaining MCI to us and how it differs from Alzheimer’s?
K: Yes and no. There was a lot to take in and we likely weren’t ready for more information. I do remember being afraid that you would rapidly digress. That I would lose you quickly, bit by bit. It was only when we got home and you started searching online did we begin to realize the difference between MCI and Alzheimer’s.
V: It’s been almost eight years since my diagnosis. What are some significant things you’ve learned during that time?
K: That you are more capable than I expected when I first heard your diagnosis. That you need to be home alone for short periods of time. That I should wait to help before you ask. That I’m getting better at not saying “You asked me that an hour ago”…or something similar. That we can talk openly about your condition and acknowledge your memory loss is progressing. That you no longer feel shame or blame and accept our role reversals, changes, and adaptations with graciousness. That we still have a shared appreciation and love of one another.