Saturday, July 9, 2016
The Filter in Our Brain
Our social life is not what it used to be. Part of it is Jim's preference; I'm guessing at some level he senses increasing difficulty in being a part of social conversations. Small talk is always easiest, but anything in depth and it is obviously more of a struggle. He becomes much more quiet and looks to me to keep the conversation going.
Part of the decrease in social activities with others is because of me. We used to routinely go out to dinner with friends. Now when faced with an evening with friends I worry that Jim will exhibit irritation or anxiety ("this food is awful!" "where is that waiter?!"). I'm embarrassed by these things, worrying that people will only see it as rude behavior (which it is!). Once in a while he will say something that I know will hurt someone's feelings. I understand that it is part of the disease process, but for others it is likely seen as mean-spirited.
The filter that most of us have in our brain that keeps us from saying or doing something inappropriate does not work as well for Jim. The other day he said something disparaging about someone's (a stranger's) appearance. It was said loud enough where I was concerned that the person heard the remark. This is so unlike him. One of the things that first attracted me to him was his kindness to others and his gentle spirit, especially to those less fortunate.
For balance, I need to point out that many times he can be very sociable, very funny and a true joy to be around. I just never know what to expect when.
The struggle with word finding continues. I've been reading about Primary Progressive Aphasia, logopenic type, which is a type of dementia that is usually a variant of Alzheimers. It is notable for short term memory loss, problems with word finding and with repetition. This is a good link that gives the specifics.
The other thing about dementia is that on autopsy they often find "mixed dementia". In other words there is more than one type of dementia that is manifested in the brain.
I don't really know if PPA-logopenic is the correct diagnosis, but he certainly has these symptoms. He has an upcoming appointment with his PCP next month. When it gets closer to the date, I will make another attempt to see if I can go with him to discuss these concerns. So far he has not agreed to this as he does not think that he has any problems. While there is no treatment or cure, if the diagnosis was known and acknowledged I think it would be helpful, at least for me. At the same time I recognize that Jim may never acknowledge any deficits. Apparently this is fairly common for those with Alzheimers.
I've decided to be more open to joining a support group. I tend not to be a "group" person per se. But I figure it wouldn't hurt to look at my options and give it a try. I think that one potential benefit would to feel like I am not alone. My online support is wonderful! But perhaps some "face time" with others going through the same thing might be of benefit to me.
These days my brain filter is on high alert, and always running through the very specialized caregiver filter. I suppose in some way it is an attempt to compensate for Jim's brain filter that at this point is a bit askew. We are both adjusting to these life altering circumstances as best as we can. It gives me peace to be able to write these words and know that those who read are kind, compassionate and only wish the best for us.
Thank you dear readers. I so appreciate each of you who take time to read my blog.