Was This My Mother's Journey?

Contributed by Sharron, who is in the early stage of MCI (mild cognitive impairment). Visit her blog. Also listen to her radio interview on living with Alzheimer's. Thank-you, Sharron, for your openness and desire to help everyone understand.

With this journey I have a beginning, I know what the “body” will be and I know better than most how it will end.

The facts: I have mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the precursor to Alzheimer’s, (AD), but I want this blog to help others with this disease and to help everyone understand what is going on in my head—a person in the early stages—for as long as possible.

"Silhouette" by Mark Goebel, via Flicr, Creative Commons

"Silhouette" by Mark Goebel, via Flicr, Creative Commons

There are many articles, blogs, and websites for caregivers or, as I like to say, “those putting up with us,” but I’ve not found one I like that is written by a person going through this stage of the disease. For those who know me, you will probably not notice any difference when I’m out and about or in a social situation I will appear normal. I’ve always had the gift to gab, and so far that hasn’t changed (but when in doubt, I shut up). The most frustrating part of this disease is not remembering names, but Tom, my husband, has been a lifesaver, as he will whisper a person’s name so I’m not left there looking strange.

Live with me a week and you will understand. Walk a week in Tom’s shoes and you may want to leave.

I’ve decided to start with a little family history. My beautiful intelligent Mother was diagnosed in her 60’s after I began to notice that something was a little “off.” She passed away from this cruel disease 10 years later. Some of her siblings also had AD. The end of this story is that I have a strong family history of Alzheimer’s, as do many of my cousins.

Being diagnosed last year at age 65 years really puts me in the normal onset range, but the symptoms started a year or two before I reached 65, so I call it early onset—early can be an age or a stage. I chose to ignore these symptoms and tried to carry on. Then Tom sat me down and told me that something was wrong and we both had seen the same things with my Mother. This I already knew. Immediately Tom took over with the research finding a facility near our house that works with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. The appointment was made, I went and failed the tests. Off to the neuropsychologist for a more thorough and expensive testing. The diagnosis was mild cognitive impairment with secondary depression—ya think??? With my family history, it was Alzheimer’s. There is no cure and progression varies. Some people are able to function, cook, and drive for many years. I pray that I am one of them. For now I appear normal and am able to cover my deficits. I try to hold my meltdowns for home. That doesn’t always work.

With Tom being legally blind we decided to see sites and vacation in places we’ve always wanted to go. For now nothing is going to stop us. I do all the driving and Tom is my navigator— in the car and in my life.

If you or if you know of someone with early onset Alzheimer’s, please pass this blog along. Someone may be interested in my journey and I’d love to hear about theirs.