One of the ways that I deal with uncertainty in life is to read. I research and read everything I can about the topic in question. Many readers will remember the pre-computer days, when researching meant driving to your university or public library, sorting through a card catalogue, and then searching through the stacks for the pertinent books or journal articles. Life is so much easier now!
Looking back over my past posts I realize that my thinking and understanding about this terrible disease is a work in progress. Some of it is altered by the many helpful and insightful comments left by my kind readers:-) And some of the changes are due to my own reading and researching. I thought I would share a couple of my more recent discoveries.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4927869/ This article discusses the scientific evidence on the benefits and the challenges of a timely diagnosis. Benefits include early interventions, better management of symptoms, avoidance of medications that may aggravate the situation, and cost savings. Barriers include risk of stigma, increased risk of suicide, shortage of diagnostic services, and reluctance of health care providers to make such a diagnosis when there are no disease-modifying options available.
This really got my attention. http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/07/alzheimers-dementia-world-denial.html It discusses the fear of loss of identity in the newly diagnosed. This makes so much sense to me. Jim had a very high-powered job with a lot of responsibility. His brilliant mind and his winning personality made him the perfect person for his job. I can only imagine how devastating it would be to realize that you are losing the essence of who you were for so many years.
Further reading http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/753761 reveals that suicide is higher in newly diagnosed dementia patients. Firearms were the most common method of suicide. It appears that the loss of identity is a big part of the increased risk for suicide. This really gave me pause.
On a lighter note, it has been a good couple of weeks. One of Jim's friends has been after him to join a group of guys that gets together for lunch once a week. They are all friends he grew up with. Jim has always been hesitant. I would encourage him, but he always gave an excuse of why he shouldn't go. Last week I had plans to go out for lunch and shopping with a friend of mine. I told Jim I wasn't sure what time I would be home, but would probably be gone for a few hours. He said "what am I going to do today?" He then answered his own question and said he would go to lunch with the guys! Hurray! By his report, he had a great time :-)
Had a brief tense episode when he became concerned our air conditioner was not working. It was such a convoluted, confusing conversation, I couldn't possibly repeat it. Patience, a calming voice and lots of reassurance got us over this hump.
He continues to struggle with what are commonly termed "executive functions". We hired a worker for a repair on our home. The bill came to $150. Jim opened his wallet and found two $100 bills. The worker said, "here, I have a $50 bill to give you if you want to give me $200". Jim absolutely could not process this and called for my help. I'm just so grateful that he feels so comfortable to ask for my help. He handed me his wallet and said "here, you can do this".
But I realize that what I write about is really little stuff. It's important for me to remind myself of this. Others are so much further along in the journey. The shock of realizing how he was changing really shook me up at first. I never really had any denial; it was so clear to me what was happening. But at the same time it was a big adjustment for me. The man I married and the man I love so dearly was changing before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.
But as time goes on, I'm adjusting how I think, how I react and how I respond to all of these changes. And, I think in the long run it will make me a better person. At least I hope so. I'm hoping that as this journey continues I'll find the strength to be the person I know I should be.