Know what else starts with A? Alzheimer’s. And, interestingly enough, Alzheimer’s makes me angry.
November, in case you were unaware, is not only a month when nobody shaves, but it’s the month during the year designated for Alzheimer’s Awareness.
One month. A month for the rest of the world — that’s never met someone with Alzheimer’s or seen someone they love deal with it — to maybe learn a little more on the subject. Because the rest of us, the ones who watch it slowly take someone away and fear that one day that will be us, we think about it all the damn time.
It’s one of the most unfair diseases in the world. Seriously. At least in my opinion. I mean, I hate that anyone gets sick, from anything – Cancer, Parkinson’s, PSP, AIDS. For some of those, there’s treatment. There’s survival rates from cancer. And while you can survive with Alzheimer’s, it’s at the cost of you not knowing anyone who has been in your life for decades, not knowing your spouse, children, grandchildren.
By now you know my feelings on the disease, on account of my grandma has it and I wrote about it almost ad nauseam back when I was trying to drum up some fundage and support for the Walk in September.
Well. A lot has happened since that walk. For instance, my grandpa died. My grandpa, who was the constant for his wife, who’d been in her life for 68 years, who was her reason for being. Seriously, I want a love like that.
Those days after his death were hard, and they still are. Besides the fact that we miss him, constantly, we also are faced with a new reality when it comes to my grandma that has Alzheimer’s.
At first, when he died, she remembered. She went through trauma, daily, re-adjusting to the idea that he wasn’t there. She questioned what had happened, she questioned when it happened, if she was there, why it had to happen and possibly most heartbreakingly of all, why she couldn’t remember.
She was there. For all of it. And we had to keep telling her that. Besides that she had to keep hearing it, she had to search her brain to find those memories of being right there the whole time. And the memories weren’t there.
She has become my mom’s part-time job. My mom runs her to appointments and keeps up with her doctors and visits her as much as she can. The rest of us are paying visits too, but things are hard now in a different way. She doesn’t remember now, that he died.
We can’t keep telling her, so we haven’t. She thinks he’s out somewhere, so we agree and change the subject. She wonders why she hasn’t heard from him, we say he’s been busy. It’s easier than the alternative, but at the same time, so much harder.
We’ve been told it’s a coping mechanism. That this happens to Alzheimer’s patients when they go through something like this. That one day she’ll stop asking about him because being without him is her new routine.
It makes me sad. And then, some of the time, when it comes to Alzheimer’s, I’m angry.
I hate this disease. I hate that there’s no cure. I hate what it does to people. I hate that getting this disease someday has become one of my fears.
In keeping with the theme of the post, A also stands for “Awareness.” This month, you’ll see a few more posts from me about Alzheimer’s, since this is the month we are supposed to be “aware.”
I’m aware all the time.