Monday, March 03, 2008

Living In Fear

It's been almost a year since my mother died. She died in her sleep; she had had Alzheimer's for over 10 years, and I'm pretty sure that's what led to her death. She was 78 when she died; that means that she was in her mid-60's when her Alzheimer's symptoms started to become apparent to us. That's pretty young, and that makes this even more frightening to me. Early onset seems to be the worst form of this disease. For her, we noticed a different kind of forgetfulness, a slight personality change; just enough to make us wonder what was happening. She had just retired from her job, and her beloved 16 year old cat had just died; so we first thought she was having a hard time making these transitions.

What happened to her was so terrible, and so frightening, and so out of our control that I shudder to think of it. The progression of this disease was like a freight train slowly picking up speed, unstoppable. We tried Aricept, Exilon, Reminyl, whatever it took. For a while they helped, but eventually we would begin to see changes again, so it was off to the next pharmeceutical. We even had her enrolled in a trial of a new drug; but by that time she was so far gone that we all, researchers and family alike, agreed it was pointless.

I'm 58 now, so anytime I forget car keys, someone's name, anything really, my blood runs cold. I'm afraid this can happen to me. No one in our family has ever had this before; my mother was the youngest of seven children, most blessed with long lives; my grandmother died at 87, in full possession of all her faculties; my great grandmother died at 94. What happened to my mother? How did she wind up with this? Who knows. Her surviving sister and brother, ages 82 and 89 were at her funeral, and I was struck by the fact that even at their ages, their memories were probably better than mine is.

Where am I going with this? Well, allaying my fears for one thing. I graduated from college as a nurse at the age of 56. The nursing program is daunting for younger people, much less someone my age. 50% of my class dropped out or flunked out. I was thrilled to graduate, for a lot of reasons. Financial security, good job, a challenge to my brain cells. Right now, I have a busy time coming up. I'm working on the STABLE course I mentioned a few weeks ago, I intend to start working on my national certification, and I have my NRP (Newborn Resusitation Provider) recertification coming up. That's a lot of studying. It's reassuring to me when I can plow through this difficult material and understand it. It's kind of a "phew, my
brain cells are working" kind of thing. Someone once told me it's ok to forget where your car keys are, but it's not ok to forget what they're for.

Eat like a bird, my ass eye.

I went to Michael's crafts today to get ribbon for my wreath. Heh. That was supposed to be an in-and-out job; turned out to be an hour. Another stop for birdseed - fifty dollars later, out of there. What exactly does eating like a bird mean? Mine eat like truck drivers. Tomorrow, I have to wait for Roto-rooter. Our sump pump drains into the street through an underground pipe; the pipe was disconnected for a while, and something is blocking it, so the water backs up into my basement if we connect it. Fun, huh?


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