***Disclaimer***typing this on the treadmill; any spelling and or grammatical errors are to be blamed on that fact.
August 11th was my mom’s birthday. She turned 67. I think. I’d ask her, but I doubt she’d know.
She’d likely not know her exact age(admittedly, I often forget mine as well since I gently fib about the 49 years I’ve spent on this earth–ahem–).
She’d likely not know what year it was.
She’d likely not be aware who I even was, without some prompts and reminders.
She has Alzheimer’s.
In her own words, “it sucks.”
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, now does it?
One on level, it’s fascinating to see how both Jamey and my mom’s brain deterioirations in seemingly similar brain regions mirrored each other.
Each lost first short-term, then long-term memories.
Each had “good and bad” days when it came to memory formation, retention and retrieval.
And that’s where the lucky few people who’ve had no introduction to the ghastly face of brain injuries often believe Alzheimer’s symptoms end: memory loss.
On the surface, I suppose if that were the case then Alzheimer’s symptoms would be, if not treatable, at least manageable with the advent of smartphones and related devices; heck even a pencil and steno pad would work well to enhance one’s recognitive abilities!
But memory loss is just one of a cruel constellation of symptoms claimed by this insidious disease.
As was also evidenced by Jamey’s disease, Alzheimers’s often impacts physical and socio-emotional abilities; not just cognitive.
Although my mom’s vision is fine(actually only needs reading glasses–well, she did at least: when she had the ability to read), she has perceptual deficits.
It’s like she can’t perceive what’s directly in front of her, even though she can “see” it.
You can direct her to turn her gaze towards an object and(if she’s able to follow your commands), she’ll appear to be looking right at it, but it won’t register in her brain; like she has reverse “blindsight”.
Maybe she can learn to echolocate.
Sit in on one of my “Sensation and Perception” lectures if you find that concept as bafflingly fascinating as I do.
Although my sample size is woefully small (n=2), I’ve noticed that both Jamey and my mom experienced an almost 180 degree turn around in personality.
I’ve painstakingly and painfully detailed how Jamey’s transformation of “self”went in a direction I was slightly displeased with(remember my oft-repeated mantra of “This is fucking insanity! This is fucking insanity!”)
With my mom, it’s different.
I’m sure distance and the ability to “detach at will” color my experience, but I actually like my mom now.
Let me explain(before sounding like the heartless harpie she often accused me of being.)
Like many mother-daughter pairs, my mom and I experienced a lot of mommy-daughter drama.
We’re both “hard-headed and hot-headed” as my dad would put it.
But unlike many mom/daughter pairs, we never really found a common ground to balance out the bad.
We never went shopping together(I think the woman’s been to the mall maybe twice in her life), never treated ourselves to spa days(my mom cut her own hair–with cuticle scissors for as long as I knew her) and we never, EVER would’ve uttered the phrase, “My daughter/mother is my best friend.”
There was always a palpable tension between us; lots of eggshell toe tipping growing up.
Things changed somewhat when Cael was born and we definitely became closer when Jamey fell ill, but for me at least, there was always a timebomb slowly tick-tocking in the closet; one slip over the hidden trip wire and BOOM!
I don’t feel that now. I feel genuine empathy and sympathy for her as a human being and my mother.
Was she a perfect mom? Ummmm…
Did she do the best she could? Well, I have issues around that one as well.
But she was, is and always will be my mom, whether I’m 49 or even when I was 42.
So here’s what I’m thinking….
Here’s the good news:
Statistically speaking, most of you on here won’t ever experience living wih a spouse with a brain tumor.
Yeah! You dodged the BT bullet.
Bully for you!
Here’s the bad news:
Projections show that by 2020, 100% of the population will have Alzheimer’s.
Ok, that statistic may be a little Foxnewsian alarmist, but there’s no denying that Alzheimer’s is on the rise.
Our generation(talkin’ bout my generation–borderline young Baby Boomer/Gen X-rs)will be facing this reality and in growing numbers in our parents and older family members.
It’s sad, scary but true.
I even found a 1mm wrinkle on my forehead the other day.
And our parents are aging.
And some of them, a good number perhaps, will follow the tau-tangled road towards a tragic and often brutal death.
And we, as children and caregivers of them, will stumble and crawl and temper-tantrum our way behind them, changing and feeding them and wiping their dirty bums like they once did for us.
Deal with it or check out early.
So we need to be informed, I think at least.
And we need to be prepared.
I’m not talking about stockpiling our underground bunkers with bottles of (useless) shark cartilage and fish oil and lumosity puzzles.
I mean prepared with knowledge.
So sure, the ghost of Jamey will never travel far from this blog.
In fact, he’s on the treadmill next to me now and between you and me, he needs some cardio; must be some REALLY good lasagna in heaven because he’s developed a bit of a paunch.
So the blog will still chronicle the undead and dead exploits of a man some call “robot it disguise.”
But it’ll talk about my mom, dad(ideally with his consent) and our family’s experiences as well.