I’m not writing this piece as one who has Alzheimer’s, but as one who has cared for a person with Alzheimer’s. The title hit me yesterday, for no particular reason, other than thinking about how Alzheimer’s has changed the way I worry and how I view things.
Something as simple as forgetting, where I once would easily laugh or joke about having a senior moment, becomes a pause in my life. A pause on whether I find it funny, because my forgetful moment could be the start of Alzheimer’s and so goes the dialog until I stop myself midway and reel my thoughts back in.
Learning new things has become of greater importance to me, what I do at work, what I do in play, I choose apps where I am challenging myself with words, always keeping in my mind, “to never forget.” I want to take up Spanish again, and other than the few words I do know, I want to get fully immersed in Cherokee; talk about challenging your brain!
I start to question down time, moments when I’m alone, am I eating the right way, am I doing enough to keep my brain as active and busy as I need it to be?, “oh why can’t I remember xyz,”, until BOOM. The worry and release comes out in tears, and then I can begin the self-talk of, “Pam you’re OK, now stop.”
Pictures and making memories are important to me, because I know what Alzheimer’s does. It takes. It takes the who, what and where away. My mom always talked about her childhood friends the Cottons. Thelma Cotton-Johnson or Aunt Tid as I called her was one of her best friends. As her Alzheimer’s got worse she’d ask for them more and more. I decided to take a chance and pull out one of her photo albums hoping not to get her upset, but to see if she could recognize her friends and sadly she couldn’t. The images weren’t familiar, not even my dad’s picture most times, though she always knew who she was married to. Perhaps it’s a familiar feeling the person is left with instead of an image? If anyone’s seen an Alzheimer’s test, one of the things they are asked to do is to copy a simple round clock with hands and it was amazing to see as my mom got worse, so too did her perception and drawing of the clock.
To look through Alzheimer’s colored lenses I guess you can say is like seeing a blurry picture that you can’t quite make out what you’re looking at. Often it’s something, someone, or someplace familiar that you’d never know until that one moment where the blurriness goes away, a moment of clarity hits only to be in the fog again. It’s viewing a world unfamiliar, unsecure, and scary leaving its victim at times for a loss of words and perhaps a loss of action.
So for those who cannot speak, who can no longer remember or act, I choose to do so. If you asked me five years ago if I would be writing, posting and/or walking for Alzheimer’s, perhaps a little here and a little there as it has touched my family, but God knew I needed a bigger thing to tackle and boy did He find one. This girl is getting to work to make life for those with Alzheimer’s as good as if it’s being seen through rose colored glasses.
And if one day I’m seeing life through Alzheimer’s Colored glasses, then get ready to hear all about Charity, Sharon and Fontella and I’m sure a Roller Castle reference will be in there too.