Blogging to Help You, and Me
My name is Leah, and I was diagnosed with dementia just a short time ago.
At 58, going on 59 years of age, I was totally devastated with the news and decided to throw myself a pity party lasting almost a month. I wailed inwardly, "What have I gotten my husband into?" (We have been married less than three years, and he is the "God's gift" I had always wanted in a husband). I cried for the expected loss of our future, one which could be cut short by the disease. I was miserable!
But as I despaired, I began looking for websites for support and information. I happened upon this community, OurAlzheimers.com. It seemed the perfect setup where I could journal and get information and support. I wrote pretty regularly in my journal and communicated with those who commented back.
I saw that the site provided lots of high quality support for caregivers but lacked much participation from the dementia/Alzheimer's sufferers themselves. Then, one day, low and behold, the producer of this site contacted me, asking me to write my own blog about the daily life and concerns of someone with dementia.
"What is a blog?" I asked myself. I looked it up. "Blog" is a combination of two words - web and log. Its a journal available on the web. Okay. That seemed easy enough to me. I used to love to write and was trying to do more of it in hopes that it would help my memory. And so, after a few back and forths with the producer, I agreed to write this weekly blog.
Some more about me: I am the fifth of six children. The only diseases I was exposed to as a child were those suffered by the elderly, and they consisted of heart and blood pressure problems. I grew up and became an elementary school teacher in Maryland. Just a few years ago I begrudgingly retired from teaching after 34 years, mainly because I started disagreeing with the school system's new mandated, conventional teaching methods.
Not long after retirement, I began having mini strokes. The first one totally blinded me for a short time. The second was similar but not as bad or as long. By this time, I had seen a neurologist who put me on medication to prevent further strokes. I had two more episodes two years later. Since then, I have been on a different medication and have had no recent episodes.
Not all was as it should be, though. I kept complaining to my doctors that I couldn't remember names. I was trying to substitute teach and not remembering the students' names was quite inconvenient. Also, I couldn't remember appointment dates or times.
My doctor told me that I was experiencing a common case of memory loss. After all, I WAS in my mid fifties.
Then one day, something happened that I will NEVER forget and which my doctors could not dismiss so easily. I woke up as usual and went downstairs to put on my shoes. There in front of me must have been ten or more pair of tennis shoes, all neatly arranged. And not one pair looked familiar. They could have been my neighbor's shoes. Or yours, for that matter. They didn't look like mine - though I had no recollection of what mine might look like.
I rationalized that some of them must be mine. I began to compare sizes. The smaller ones must belong to me. I picked out a nice looking pair and put them on. They fit, but still, they could have been someone else's because I had no memory of them. That's when I KNEW something was not right.
After MRI's and psychological tests, I was diagnosed with dementia. I am relieved to know it is probably vascular dementia, which holds more promise for a longer normal life.
And so, here I am today, writing my first blog. Hoping to get comments from readers like you - whether you are a caregiver, an Alzheimer's sufferer, or a dementia sufferer like me. I can't wait to meet everyone out there in "webville" (a word of my own creation!).
I want people suffering with this disease to know that they are not alone. I also hope that with this blog I can provide a window into which caregivers can get a better understanding of the lives of their loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer's. I plan on telling you all what is happening in my daily life, whether it is a struggle or an incident that makes me laugh.
I am facing this dreaded disease head on with my chin up. My faith in God helps get me through it. My writing not only helps keep my mind sharp, but gives me solace. And so it is with great humility and gratitude that I close this, my first "official" blog entry on this site.
To read more of my blogs, you can go to A Day in the Life of a Dementia Sufferer, accessible on OurAlzheimers.com's homepage.