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JOAN’S BLOG – SEPTEMBER 27, 2007 -Can anything good come out of this AD journey?

Do any of you know someone who has said that a catastrophic illness that befell their loved one was a blessing in disguise; that the illness brought their families closer together or it taught them how to empathize and love? Well, I am NOT one of them. I didn’t ask for this disease to invade my life; I don’t like it; I don’t want it, and I could probably find better ways to learn the lessons it will inevitably teach me.

However, I have been thinking about all the changes AD has forced into my life, and the impact these changes have had on my sense of self. There is so much that Sid took care of that he is now unable to do; so much that I left to him because I did not want to do it, or was unable to do it. AD has required me to find strength and ability buried deep inside of myself that I never knew was there.
I liked being the passenger  in the car, never having to be concerned about which exit to take or whether or not we would get where we were going. Sid was the premiere navigator, while I was the observer who watched the scenery – the trees , cornfields, mountains, oceans. I don’t care to drive in highway traffic- speeding by at 80 miles an hour makes me nervous. I couldn’t possibly drive long distances in traffic. I found out that I can do it if I have to, and I will have to more often now.

Although I always paid the bills, Sid organized, filed, and kept track of the retirement account. I hate numbers. I am as bad with numbers as I am with driving directions. I found out that I can keep track of those numbers because I have to.
I don’t care for confrontation. I prefer to make my point in carefully cushioned subtle language. Being faced with Sid’s myriad of doctors, all with conflicting opinions, I found out I can stand up for him and myself by being clear and direct with every one of them.
Ever since I was 9 years old, I wanted to be a writer. Life intervened, and I became an educator. The desire to write never left me, and over the years, I wrote some essays, all carefully password coded into my computer where they still reside. This year, just before my 59th  birthday, I suddenly realized I was running out of time. I thought - "I'm going to be 60 years old soon.  If I don't get started on this writing business now, then when?"  How ironic that it was this horrible AD that led the way. Because Alzheimer’s Disease forced me to do things and take on responsibilities I never thought I could, it gave me the confidence to launch this website; to share all the writing that came from the deepest pain that AD was causing me.

Do I thank AD for the confidence in my abilities that it has given me? NO. Somewhere along this life path, I’m sure I would have found that confidence another way. It is just one of life’s little ironies that AD was the catalyst this time.  

Both the wives and the husbands of AD patients have had to look deep inside themselves and find abilities and strengths they never knew were there. Finding your inner strength may just be the one good outcome of this AD journey. What do you think?

Feedback to joan@thealzheimerspouse.com