My name is Virginia Laken, and on this website I share my experience of living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), which progressed to dementia and now Alzheimer’s. These conditions of memory loss, like many other mental illnesses, are loaded with fear, embarrassment and shame…which leads to a hesitancy to disclose or discuss openly—many times, even with one’s family.
After the initial shock of my diagnosis wore off, I began to recognize this sense of isolation and shame—because I’d seen it before.
At the age of 49, my husband Keith experienced impotence due to prostate cancer surgery—a condition laden with shame and embarrassment. For a time Keith didn’t want to talk about his condition, let alone seek help. As I writer I looked for books written by couples dealing with sexual dysfunction, but found none. I was both angry and dismayed by the silence, and vowed if we ever made it through I would tell our story. Thankfully, through open communication and learning to re-frame our relationship and redefine intimacy, our marriage not only survived but became stronger. Wanting to keep my promise and alleviate the stigma associated with male sexual dysfunction, I told our story in our book, Making Love Again: Hope for Couples Facing Loss of Sexual Intimacy. I have also created a blog about aging and intimacy.
Having experienced the reality that silence and shame don’t serve us well, it didn’t take me long to recognize my own silence and shame about MCI, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Once again I was unable to find accounts of people sharing their own stories of living with memory decline and the myriad of changes it imparts on a life. It was obvious it was time for me to write—again—this time through the platform of blogging.
My intention with my blog is to share an intimate perspective of how I experience the effects of living with memory loss. I write with the hope that others may not feel so alone in what they experience—which for me includes fears and frustrations, as well as the compassion, kindness and blessings I’ve experienced as I trod this unknown journey. I write so others may gain the courage to share their feelings with their loved ones. I write so healthcare providers and personal care-givers may gain new insights into how it feels to be losing one’s memory and cognitive capabilities, or as I often describe it—to be losing “me.” And I write to provide hope.
I truly welcome your comments. My hope is that this site might begin to establish a dialogue between and among those of us experiencing this condition, our caregivers, and those who treat conditions of memory loss, as well as those looking for the causes and cures. We need to be talking and sharing, because silence doesn’t serve us well. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Use the list below to read some of the most popular posts:
- Introduction to my Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) diagnosis
- Audio recording: Listen to my keynote about living with MCI
- How do you respond to misguided comments about MCI?
- My brain works really hard
- 4 ways to cope with difficult emotions related to an MCI diagnosis
- I’ve given up driving
- My latest diagnosis: Alzheimer’s