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We have all pretty much agreed that Alzheimer’s Disease has a devastating effect on our marriage, our emotions, our plans for the future, our social and family relationships, and our sense of well being. But it also toys with us; teases us with its inconsistencies. Sid can go for weeks with his usual symptoms to which I have managed to adjust – the “What are you doing today?” question when I told him my schedule 90 seconds ago; the “Where are my pills?” question, when they are right in front of him, but to the left instead of the right, where he was looking; the befuddled look on his face when I try to explain a situation in more than three sentences.

Then, all of a sudden one morning, he discusses an event that occurred a month ago, recalling all of the minute details. For that moment, my hopes soar - – “Maybe the medications are improving his situation”, I foolishly think. I know what all the research says and what our neurologist told me as gently as possible – that the medications slow the progression of, do not improve, the disease. I know that, but just for a few minutes, or a whole day, there is a sliver of hope.
Then it all comes crashing down when the next day, he doesn’t know whether we should turn left or right coming out of a street we entered 15 minutes ago. That would be normal for me, but not for my husband – I never saw him confused by directions in 36 years. The downward spiral can last for a week, in which he cannot complete one single task (taking pills, cleaning off the table, putting the papers in the recycle bin) without forgetting what he was doing, and moving on to something else. I readjust my emotions again, that sinking feeling in my stomach re-emerging, as I realize, “He’s getting worse. We’re going downhill.”
A week or two later, up the charts again. He remembers our plans for the weekend; he faithfully and in an organized, timely manner, completes and checks off all the chores on his “to do” list. When I remind him that we have to buy a cake for a friend’s birthday, he says, “I know. You already told me that.”  “Wow”, I say to him. “How did you remember that?” I feel elated once more

Only to have the situation and my emotions reverse themselves yet again the next week. If our life with AD could be charted, it would look like this:

My emotions are not well suited to such erratic behavior. It is another source of stress that I do not need. The problem with me is that I thrive on peace and stability, which I generally achieve through control – I like to be able to control the path of my life.  “Well, give it up, girl”, say the doctor, the social workers, and my support group friends. “This is Alzheimer’s Disease. You are in control of nothing.”

What about you? Do you find AD to be a roller coaster ride? Does it wreak havoc with your emotions as it does mine? Message Board Topic – AD- an inconsistent road with a roller coaster of emotions.

©Copyright 2007 Joan Gershman

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