Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Hate Alzheimer's and Dementia

This post could also be titled "Why I was Sad Over Thanksgiving"

*note: my mom reads this blog sometimes.  Mom, this is just me writing my feelings. I love the family. I love coming home. But you know I had a hard time over the break. The end. *

My dad has Alzheimer's.  He has for a while.  My grandma has dementia after her fall a year ago.

Well, I hate Alzheimer's and dementia. Hate is a strong word. But it's appropriate here. Why do I hate Alzheimer's and dementia?

I hate that my dad doesn't remember details. Riding in the car to dinner, he asked me no less than 4 times (in a 20 minute drive) where we were going to eat.

I hate that my dad worries because he can't remember.  He worries when he doesn't know where we are.  Even if we are just in the next room, you hear panic in his voice as he calls out for us.  Same for my Gram.  The most common word heard at home is "Linda?" as they call for my mom.

Me, Dad, and Mom
I hate that some tasks are not coming easily for dad anymore.  He had trouble carving the turkey.

I hate that their comprehension levels affect how we can talk and joke with them.  Things that would have been funny to them before just go over their head as they struggle with some comprehension.

I hate that my mom is stressed taking care of them both.

I hate that there is a steady stream of doctor's visits, tests, new medications, and other treatment.

I hate that things will never be the same.

Gram and Mom
I had a couple good cries over the weekend.  One hit my Sunday morning.  I got out of the shower and sat on my bath mat crying.  I cried until I couldn't cry anymore. I didn't know why. All this emotion and crying was making me not myself. I was grouchy, snappy, and cranky.  I couldn't nail down what I was feeling.

Another cry hit me on the way home. At first I didn't know why I was crying, but I told Tyler in between sobs, that being home was just so sad.  I couldn't pinpoint it. And then I said "Because what is going on at home is sad."  And I talked through a lot of it and cried.  I must have cried for at least an hour.  I was trying to cry the sad away. 

Alzheimer's and dementia are stealing precious time from me.  Thankfully, I have plenty of great memories...but I wish we didn't have Alzheimer's and dementia looming in the background of all these memories now.

I am feeling better. I can't make these awful diseases go away, and I honestly can't do much for dad or Gram at all.  But I can do what I've always done: just love them.  Even though I hate Alzheimer's and dementia, I love my dad and Gram.

My grandpa had Alzheimer's years ago before he died, but I was young and it didn't really affect me.  There were days when he didn't know who any of us were, but it didn't bother me too much.  However, I cry at the thought of my daddy not knowing me.  I cry at the thought of my Gram not remembering where she is. Stupid Alzheimer's.

I selfishly prayed to God over the weekend that He would slow their progression enough that their bodies catch up.  I prayed that some natural cause would take them before this disease did.

I recently watched the movie 50/50 and in it, the main character's father has Alzheimer's.  That movie made my heart sad.  His father has no idea what is going on or who he is.  His father is right there during his cancer treatment, but he might as well be at a carnival.  I don't want that for me.  For dad.  For Gram.  For us.

Do your parents or grandparents suffer from this horrible disease? Let me know.

18 comments:

  1. I am so sorry Brittney. Both grandparents on my mom's side have Alzheimer's and it's so hard. The person you once knew isn't really there anymore but you are still caring, loving, and spending time with them and trying to figure out this new situation. This person who always took care of you now needs you to take care of them, even for the smallest things. The person who always remembered your birthday, cannot remember your name anymore. Holidays are hard for our family too, my grandpa was a preacher and I think this Thanksgiving was the last time he'll be able to pray over the meal. I am so sorry you're having to go through this with a parent and a grandparent at the same time Brittney.

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    1. Taylor- thank you for your comment. You described exactly what is awful about this disease.

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  2. Brittney, I'm sorry your family is going through this. It is a horrible and unfair disease. My husband's grandpa has Alzheimer's. He's been in the VA home in Claremore in the Alzheimer's unit for several years. Yesterday the home called and said he wasn't doing well and it's just a matter of days. My parents don't have Alzheimer's but they are in their late 70's, both in declining health. Mom had a heart attack a few years ago and things haven't been the same since. Dad's having circulation problems, his legs are going numb and he can hardly walk sometimes, yet he still tries to get on top of the barn and house for repairs! They're talking about selling the home place because it's just too much for them to take care of, which will be incredibly sad for all of us. I've been worrying about them so much lately. I know exactly where you're coming from. We want things to stay the same, but they don't. Keep your chin up!

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    1. Oh man. I'll be praying for your husband's grandpa! And we understand those circulation problems, too. My gram is having those issues now. I don't want to get old!

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  3. Will be praying for you and your family.

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  4. So sorry for you Brittney. My grandmother has dementia as well. She doesn't even know who I am anymore and she certainly doesn't know who my daughter is. She is happy spending time with us but it's so sad that she doesn't really know who we are.

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    1. Vanessa- thanks for your comment. It is so sad.

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  5. I am so sorry! Thankfully I have not expereinced this first hand, but did have a great grandmother when I was a young kid going through this. I remember seeing the hurt on the adults faces even though I didn't really know what was going on at the time. I pray that you and your family finds some peaceful time together!

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    1. Thank you, Emily. Yeah as a kid, I didn't really understand. It sure didn't affect me then like it is now. Thank you for your prayers!

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  6. Heart wrenching post! I am glad you can find joy in your memories.

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  7. OH HONEY! Wish I was with you right this second to give you a big HUG! I'm keeping your Daddy and Gram in my prayers. And your MAMA too!

    I only grew up with one living grandparent. My Grandpa King... and I ONLY have memories of when he was sick with Parkinson's disease. I was just a little girl and didn't understand why he slept in a hospital bed in our house and why it would take him half the day just to complete a simple task. I miss him so much!

    I just want to encourage you to treasure all the GOOD memories... things you remember when they had their health before they got sick. And I pray those memories will sustain you on the hard days. Stupid diseases! :-( I hate that you are going through this...

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    1. I'll take that hug! And thank you for the prayers! :)

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  8. Brittney, I hate this for you. I don't have relatives with the disease but I am a speech language pathologist who works with people who do. I would love to try to encourage you any way I can. I may also be able to help you with some strategies to make it a little easier for you and your family. If interested, email me at slpleslieanne@yahoo.com

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    1. Leslie- thank you for your comment. I'll be emailing you later!

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  9. I hate it too. My family has been and still is affected by it. That and cancer...

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  10. I'm so sorry Brittney. It's obvious by the way that you talk about your dad and your Gram (and all the other loves in your family) that you love them so. Hugs!

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