Still me?

alice

I saw Still Alice last night.  It was a very powerful, realistic story of a woman with early onset of Alzheimer’s, at age 50.  And not just any woman.  A woman who was extremely intelligent, and was a professor at Columbia.  Her whole persona was painted by her linguist skills, of which she was very proud.  Now, it would be taken away from her.

Obviously you can’t track the insidious path that Alzheimer’s takes in only two hours.  However, I thought the film did a great job of showing just enough snippets of how her life changed as the disease progressed.  Ironically, the disease progresses faster the more intelligent its victim.

Alice tries to plan for her future, but seems to be thwarted at every turn due to her increasing loss of memory.  Her family, while supportive, each has their own lives to live.  While I initially thought her husband was very supportive, upon further reflection I have decided he was very selfish.  He did still love her, but he was very ambitious, as she had been, and he continued on his career path at the expense of spending time with his wife, going so far as to move away from her for a new job.

The children were an eclectic mix.  There was a very self-centered over-achiever older daughter, a busy doctor son, and a starving actress youngest daughter living across the country.

The ending will surprise you, in several ways.  One in the way in which the actual movie ends, and secondly in what happens to Alice.  I do not want to spoil it for any future movie watchers, so we will leave it at that.

I was initially conflicted about seeing this movie.  My own mother died from Alzheimer’s at the age of 75.  Her sister currently has it.  Looking back, I can see her decline over about 10 years.  To me, she seemed to change the most after knee replacement surgery.  When she woke up from anesthesia, she was VERY disoriented and confused.  She really had no idea what was going on for several months.  She did get better, but she was never the same.  I firmly blame the anesthesia, for uncovering or bringing on her Alzheimer’s.  Many scientific/medical journals have debated this question for years.  Anesthesia has been linked to cognitive problems, and also postoperative delirium, that can last from days to years.

I can say this, because I am living proof.  My mother had multiple medical problems and had many surgeries in her life.  I am her clone, and unfortunately have followed her same path in many ways.  I too have had many surgeries in my life.  Recently, the past two years, I have had 9 surgical procedures in regards to my hip.  Which each one, I felt my brain getting fuzzier and fuzzier.  I grasp at words sometimes.  I forget names.  I just don’t feel like I am as “smart” as I used to be.

Could it be coincidence?  Sure.  I am getting older, every year.  But I do think it has affected me to some degree.  I am so sure of it that I refused to have general anesthesia, and opted for a local for my last hip aspiration.  Did it hurt?  Yes.  Am I glad it hurt?  Yes.  At least I knew my brain was still functioning.

Do I worry about Alzheimer’s?  Yes.  Every day.  The stats are staggering.  I have a lot of factors against me.  I wish they would SOMETHING to help with this disease.  The Baby Boomers are a huge segment of population that tends to gets things done.  Elderly care has become a main issue because of their demands.  Many are of the Alzheimer’s age now.  I pray that the sheer number will spur more research and development of better drugs, or find a cure.

I still have guilt about my mom.  I should have been there for her more.  I tried.  I really did.  I worked full time, and there were many times I had to jump in my car and drive to her senior living apartment because she didn’t answer the phone.  Most times it was because she didn’t hang up right.  Then I found her on the floor.  Twice.  That was enough.  Her doctor recommended a nursing home, as she required 24/7 monitoring.  I knew she would hate it.  I remember checking her in, and in a moment of clarity, she looked right at me with her cloudy blue eyes and said, is this what my life has come to?  I cried all the way home, and for many days after that.  She did acclimate, and at least had more social interaction there than alone in her apartment, but I still felt guilt every time I went to visit her.  As the disease progressed, she didn’t know there was anything wrong with her, and I actually felt grateful for that.  I would like to think she died peacefully.  She did remember my name every time I saw her, and was always happy to see me.  She thought my dad, who had died more than 20 years previously, was there in the room with her, as a Scottie dog sitting in the corner.  I always said hi to him too.  I may have petted him on the way out.  It gave me comfort to think that my dad was watching over her.

Anyway, Still Alice is a GREAT movie, Julianna Moore gave an absolutely wonderful performance, and I am glad I saw it, despite my earlier conflict about it.  5 stars all the way.

Do you have any experience with Alzheimer’s?  Have you seen the movie?  I would love to hear your comments.

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Hi, my name is Jan, and I’m an Orphan

orphan

How many of you out there are orphans?  Obviously the older we get, it is inevitable.  People don’t live forever.

I lost my father when I was in my 20’s.  My father was only 54, and died of lung cancer.  That was back in the day when you could still smoke in hospitals, believe it or not.  I remember thinking that he was going to burn himself up in bed before the cancer would get him.  He continued to smoke, pretty much until the day he died.  We all did.  We would all sit around in his hospital room, smoking.  He died a horrible death, and we dealt with it by smoking more.  How ironic.  We all needed a good kick in the head.

My mom died when I was in my late 40’s.  She was unhealthy most of her life, and ended up with Alzheimer’s.  The last year or so of her life she never got out of her hospital bed.  Not once.  It was very sad to watch your mom just fade away, on feeding tubes etc.  I will always be grateful that she remembered my name until the end.

So, there I was.  An orphan.  An adult orphan.  I always only thought of orphans as young kids.  But when you think about it, there are probably many more adult orphans. Because as I’ve already noted, people don’t live forever.

Also, as the circle of life goes round and round, we end up taking care of our parents in the end, like they were the babies.  Hey, it’s only fair, right?

Most adults don’t want to end up that way.  I sure don’t.  I envy the people who lead a nice long productive life and then just die in their sleep or quickly (hopefully) of a heart attack.  Unfortunately I watched both my parents die of a protracted illness.  Not fun.

I don’t really consider myself an orphan. I am lucky I had both parents until I was married.

 

State your Name, Rank and Serial Number….please!

I suffer from CRS disease.  Can’t Remember Shit.  No, seriously.  As soon as I think to myself, I should write that down before I forget it, the thought is gone.  Flitting away like a butterfly.  Then I am left sitting there with a blank look on my face. 

I worry that I am getting Oldheimers, but it’s more like SomeTimers.  Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don’t.  My mother had bad Alzheimer’s, so of course I think the worst, since I am her clone…..now where was I?

I go online and take these cognitive tests that show whether or not you have signs of Alzheimer’s.  I always pass, because I know who is President and what day of the week it is.  What I want to know is where the heck are my car keys?

I have always been bad at remembering names and dates, especially from the past.  Like yesterday.  I remember certain things with no problem, like who stole my lawn mower 10 years ago (wink, wink), but I can’t remember the date that my dad OR my mom died.  Go figure.

So the next time I see you and don’t call you by name, it’s because I’m still searching the hard drive in my brain before it crashes, and I get a user error message.  It’s gonna take a little while to reboot, so for God’s sake please remind me!

I promise to do the same for you.  If you remind me.  Or if I can tell by the deer in the headlights look we all get at a certain age.

Old as dirt

It’s official.  Today is my birthday, and I’m old as dirt.  Some days I feel like dirt too, lol.  But I have this magic mirror at home and when I look into it I am still 25, or 30.  No lines, bags, wrinkles, or fat.  I see long, luxurious golden brown hair, bright green eyes, a light dusting of freckles over my fair, creamy skin, twinkling teeth, and a perfect figure

But then I put my glasses on, and run screaming from the room.  The ravages of time have not been kind to me.  I suppose I could look worse, but I could sure look better.  If I won $10,000 in the Lotto I would run to the nearest plastic surgeon and tell him to take off 20 years!  Hmmm, maybe I would need $20,000. 

I wish I could say at least I still have my health, but I would laugh so hard I would prolly pee my pants a little.  I alone inherited ALL the bad genes in my family.  My sister and brother were left unscathed.  Lucky ones.  I seriously could be a doctor, I know more than some I’ve seen.  I’ve spent plenty of time in the hospital and do my research. 

And here it is at 2 a.m., still wide awake and unable to sleep, even after a Lunesta.  But I can’t really blame my insomnia on old age, it’s been with me always.  Lucky me.  I’m a binge sleeper.  Some times I sleep like a log, other times I go for days with barely a few hours.

I will miss my mom calling me on my birthday.  When she had Alzheimer’s, I would call her instead, and say “Thank you for having me”.  So, to my mom and dad up in heaven I would like to say “Thank you both for having me, and have a toast for me!  I miss you both, and love you, and will be with you one day.  I know you are taking care of my girls for me, and I yearn to see you all!”

Feel free to wish me a Happy Birthday.  I promise to put my glasses to read them!  It’s supposed to be a beautiful day today!