I Have This Terminal Disease,
It Moves So Slow It Is Killing Me!
One of 25 Best Alzheimer’s Blogs of 2012
Mike Donohue is a brave man. Courageous, direct, and bold, his blog energizes readers with a passion for action. Dementia Endured gives a hint in the title as to the nature of this talented writer: he will endure. And with a personality like Mike’s, it’s easy to believe that he shall overcome, as well!
His life experiences are opened to the reader, and his journey recovering from alcoholism to adjusting to Alzheimer’s holds its own fascination for visitors to his site. Mike’s strength and determination will remind readers that dementias are one area in which it’s best not to hold any punches.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
With Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) it all looks different. Your viewpoint changes dramatically.
Although each of us ultimately faces death, the mode and manner finds greater definition. As Ford Motor Company so many years ago advertised “There is a Ford in Your Future” with AD you know you have a terminal disease in your future. This prompts you to live accordingly.
This viewpoint changes your approach to whatever is next. A greater impetus sets in to make events count. There is evidently less time and things needing to be done move up on the list. At the same time in my experience the urgency does not accompany this. What gets done is fine, what doesn’t fit in is OK too. This seems to arise from the sense that doors have closed and there is nothing that can be done about it. The gods have so directed so it is your task to adapt and accept that which has been directed.
Prioritization occurs. I was limited in activities that I enjoyed, such as biking, cross country skiing, traveling on my own, driving a car, handling much money. My disease simply made these undertakings not possible any longer.
Other activities I chose to let go to make more time to devote to those activities I enjoyed more.
I let woodworking go to my wife Diane’s pleasure. It was like giving up my motor cycle years ago because I had not broken anything yet. I quit wood working because I still had all my fingers.
I spent 25 years researching my family history. I am now boxing up my extensive genealogy files for any descendant who has the desire to build on what I produced.
I no longer play bridge which I was learning and thoroughly enjoying. I did not want to foist my slo-think on any other bridge player.
Playing golf at which I was no good at all has been curtailed. I can’t drive to get there; it is too cumbersome to haul my clubs around on a bus. My wife volunteers to drive but I was never any good anyway. There are simply better ways to spend my time.
This leaves me the time to read, write, listen to music, walk and swim, and go to the doctor too damn much. I also have time to go out to lunch with friends and take in some AD activities.
I have a lot of alone times. I don’t like to be in crowds or situations where there are too many distractions or unfamiliar undertakings. I get anxious when I am in situations calling for quick actions or response. I simply cannot keep up, get frustrated when I can’t and abhor being a burden to others.
I am blessed with the fact that I keep myself good company. My alone times are important to me, have always been part of me. This serves me very well now because of my inability to get around and keep up with anything that has urgent or distracting circumstance to it.
I like and enjoy being around people and have as much social contact as I want. At the same time I don’t have the social obligations that require more than I can give. Having AD can be just a wonderful reason for which I have to turn some event down and not sound the killjoy or spoil sport.
There are many limitations to having AD but there is also a certain freedom that ensues. I can no longer keep up, therefore I don’t have to, nor do I even have to try. There is really nothing left I have to do; nothing left I have to be. Performance requirements no longer exist. I have but to get from day to day with as little fuss and muss as possible. This is not too bad!
The anxiety quotient of AD is alive and well with most of us, certainly with me. I know what I must do to avoid an increase in anxiety. Stress is the first thing forbidden. I cannot handle nor do I desire to try. I go all to pieces. Distracting circumstances produce distress. Moving about and a lot of traveling I find disturbing. Travel was once my favorite thing. More than not I get upset if away from home too much or too long.
Routine has become my nesting place. I like simply being at home. As my dear old Uncle Babe said in his 90’s “I like to stay put!” For the first time in my life I like getting up in the morning and getting at it. “At it” is my routine: I start with coffee, read the papers, write a little then work on whatever project with which I am currently occupied. Then often it is out to lunch with a friend or working out downstairs, then a nap. Late afternoon and evenings I read and listen to music on satellite radio.
I enjoy this. Is it all too bad?
No more am I working hard at being what I am supposed to be; no longer do I serve anyone or any station I feel required to do. I am neither planning nor doing the many things I did to seeking fulfillment, satisfaction and happiness. With AD I have found it fruitless. I “Can’t Anymore” closed too many doors and made manifest doing so leads only to frustration without much chance of fruition.
I have finally learned letting it happen as it is going to anyway is the soundest way to find contentment. At this point with AD, in spite of that and all it entails I have more peace of mind and contentment than I have known at any time in the last 73 years.