July 29, 2021
Alzheimer’s ALERT: If you don’t want to read about my fatal diagnosis don’t read this post.
I am fairly certain that most people with memory loss, and perhaps even those who don’t, fear the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Which I did—until it was real.
I was told of my new diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease during my last visit with my psychiatrist. I felt surprisingly calm. Perhaps because I had thought so much about this possibility over the years and had unintentionally prepared myself for what seemed inevitable. Or perhaps, having lived so many years with memory loss—first MCI then dementia—the renaming of my condition just doesn’t mean much. Or maybe I just went numb. I’m still not sure which reaction was most prevalent.
But time passes, and it has now been a couple of months since that day. During these days and weeks, I, of course, have been thinking about the ramifications of this dreaded diagnosis—Alzheimer’s. What will it feel like? Will I be aware of my demise? Will I become childlike? Will I know my family and friends? Will I survive for ‘too’ long?
The naming of my condition as Alzheimer’s does not bring a very promising likely path ahead. I envision a progressive decline of my memory and cognition—perhaps to a point where I won’t know my family. I will need vigilance and care on a regular basis. And ultimately this disease will be the cause of my demise.
But still, surprisingly, these thoughts don’t depress or distress me any more than the sadness I have already experienced and accepted. Everyone has to die. And in many ways, it is better to know my likely fate than not. Unexpected deaths are life altering. I know due to my Father’s tragic and early demise. In comparison, dementia is a kinder way to exit. And perhaps by donating my brain to science, I will have contributed to scientific understanding that will help generations to come; a legacy of sorts.
I’m hoping my frankness isn’t disturbing to others. If so, I apologize. My philosophy regarding life is to live like there is no tomorrow, doing the best you can. And I do think I’ve really tried to do my best.
In closing, I don’t want anyone to think I’m down in the dumps, depressed, or morose. Just the opposite; I now have been given the gift of time. My mind is weak, but it’s “still there.” I want to spend my time wisely, which really means living my life as I have been these past few years. Embracing nature, loving my family and friends, being kind, thankful and loving. What more could I ask for?