I can remember the day my mother asked me a strange question. I remember the answer I had to give even though it nearly broke my heart to do so. The question my mother asked me was, “Do you think I’m crazy?” And the answer I had to give was, “No, Mom, I think you’re very, very sick.”
I lost my mother in 2004 to a heart attack according to the county medical doctor required to examine her. In reality, I had lost years before her heart gave out that cold January day. Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease and while it used to be because one got old, it is more and more becoming the disease of the young. See my mother was only 53 when she was diagnosed, the age I am now, she died when she was only 64. My father had retired just a few years before so they could travel the United States but that wasn’t to be. The slow torturous end made him sad, lonely and very, very tired.
According to the statistics, early onset Alzheimer’s runs in families yet no one in mine had ever been afflicted so young. While there is absolutely no proof for this, I do believe that my mother hastened the disease by having a fatalistic attitude. She had told me all her life she would die at 53 as that was the age when her mother had passed. By being diagnosed with the disease, she essentially did die. However, they didn’t make the diagnosis official until sometime in 1993 and those months while they dithered with what was wrong with her, something might have been done but it wasn’t to be.
She was diagnosed during a time when the drugs were new and the research moving only at a snail’s pace. She also had an ulcer that prohibited her from taking most Alzheimer medication more than a week before her stomach hurt so bad that the doctors were sure she might bleed out. Therefore, no drugs were available for my mom that might have helped her. We just had to watch and wait and listen.
My youngest was born the year she was diagnosed and she loved him the best she could but he never got to know her like our oldest. Mom was forced to quit work and I was quite angry with them for that as the research of the day flat out said that the only way barring the medicine to keep the disease at bay was to challenge the mind. No challenge, no synapses firing. They didn’t even try to reassigned her, just pulled her into the office and told her she was no longer need.
Hence the heart-wrenching question that day as we sat in my car outside a casino before we went inside to play nickels as we frequently did. From that moment on, I knew that my mother was going to leave me forever even though her body would still be around. How I kept it together that day, I will never, ever know but I do remember going home and sobbing in my husband’s arms because I realized just how little time I had left with my mother.
I often wondered what it was like for her and thought it must be a rat-in-a-maze thought process as the body quits responding to your desires, as your faculties shut down to your commands one by one. How does one’s mind even begin to cope its own demise? How does one see themselves when they can no longer recognize the face in the mirror?
It’s a question I ask myself often as time moves on and I get older. However, I am not one to dwell on things I can’t change. Many times I was asked if I wanted to know if I possess the gene for Alzheimer’s and I even asked my doctor once. She flat out told me that if I took the test I would flat out be denied health insurance for the rest of my life. I was appalled. How can a nation so strong and so willing to help others like America is have a medical system so backwards? The rich can afford things that the middle or poor class only wish they could get.
So, I’ll live my life like million others, waiting to see what the future may bring me. Until I arrive at being old (frankly, I know that I’ll never be there!) I will live each day with purpose and pride. See, I’ve already decided should I ever get the disease, I’ll be the first in line to act as a guinea pig for new drug tests. I will also do everything, both natural and allopathic medicine, that will prevent me from going down the lonely path of my mother as she took the long goodbye.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that we need to have a cure for as the nation and the world population ages. It along with diabetes are the two health care issues many older people will face as they grow old. I for one will be giving to any and all charities that support the search for a cure of these two diseases.
Lynn Crain realized at an early age she wanted to write. She took the long way to being published by doing a variety of things like nursing, geologist, technical writer and computer manager all of which have added to her detail-oriented stories. Now she’s a full time storyteller and weaves fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales as well as erotic stories for various publishers. She normally lives in the very hot southwest with her husband, son, two dogs, three cats and she’s gotten rid of her snakes. Don’t ask. Other members of her clan live nearby and include a son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons as well as various long-time friends. She is a past national board member of the RWA; founding president of Las Vegas Romance Writers Chapter of RWA; has held the positions of president, vice-president, secretary and contest chair of EPIC. Her latest adventure has taken her to Vienna, Austria with her husband as he works for a UN affiliated organization. You can find her hanging out at A Writer In Vienna Blog (www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com) and various other places on the net (www.theloglineblog.blogspot.com; www.twitter.com/oddlynn3). Still, the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lynn’s latest story, A Lover for Rachel is available from Amazon and Smashwords here:
The log line for it is: The magic of love comes to everyone.
The blurb is:
Rachel Hamilton comes to Stonehenge to celebrate her birthday on Summer Solstice, only to find herself trapped beneath the massive rhyolite bluestones with sexy wizard, Dewin Kingston, who convinces her that she is the key to their escape.