Help Me Before I Forget
In itself, the above title is easy to forget, but imagine if one day, you are out shopping and all of the sudden you had no knowledge of your surroundings, who you were, or who the person lying next to you was.
Sure, you may have known for some time that things were not OK. Sure, the manic mood swings of moments of delight to moments of sheer terror you had now begun to live with were becoming more frequent; however, today was different, and you knew that today was probably going to be the last day you spent on Earth. You had reached the end of your journey, a terrifying journey known to us non-sufferers as "Dementia," or by its more clinical name, "Alzheimer's Disease.
Today, with the help of our hosts BargainBrute.Com, we will take a look at "Alzheimer's," a disease that is so rampant that it affected in just one year (2015) approximately 30 million people, from all walks of life and all parts of the world. Furthermore, in that same year, 2 million people also succumbed to its deadly effects.
Of course, no one knows what a sufferer is going through in their final days, so I have only been able to offer a fictitious description of the inner thoughts of a person living with Dementia in the opening paragraphs above; however, that said, I have lived and seen someone going through both the beginning and end stages of what some experts say is humankind's most soul-destroying and costliest disease.
Authors note: Although there is no cure for Dementia, there are medications that can slow the disease progression; however, life expectancy from the date of diagnosis is only three to nine years.
My parents split and went their separate ways many years ago, mostly, I have to say, on seemingly friendly terms.
My father married an old World War II girlfriend, and my mother married a local publican. I will not delve further into this relationship as it has nothing to do with this story and has only been added to explain the background of the person who succumbed to this horrid disease.
Anyway, on with our narrative, as mentioned, my old Dad remarried, and everything went well for quite an extended period, then, quite unexpectedly, strange things began to happen in his house. Some of them, it has to be said, were quite funny, and as initial symptoms are often mistaken for normal aging, no one took any actual notice. They just laughed it off.
Being an old military guy, he always prided himself on a clean starched white shirt; however, one day when I went up for a visit, he was not dressed in his traditional formal way; His shirt, for instance, was both dirty and crinkled and as I sat there, I noticed that he seemed to be forever jumping up from his chair, running into the kitchen then returning with his wife on his hand before sitting back down in his or her's regular armchairs.
I did not say anything at the time. However, that night, while out for a drink, he explained to me that for the past few weeks, every time he put a shirt on to wash, his wife, bless her heart, thinking she was helping, continually went into the kitchen and restarted the washing machine, always with the same clothes inside, and that was the reason he now never had a clean shirt to put on.
Perhaps the above does not sound too bad, but unfortunately, much more was to come, and unfortunately, it would all be wrong.
The police started to arrive at the door after finding her lost on the main high street; she began to become angry at the slightest thing, she began to withdraw from her friends, friends that she had known for over 50 years. She would even forget to eat, leading to massive weight loss, and her hygiene became somewhat hard to put up with.
Dad, by this time, was beside himself; this proud man became depressed, just like millions of others who are forced to live with Dementia. Yes, Dementia has no friends. It does not want friends. It just wants to destroy.
The end came one bitterly cold day in December. By this time, dad's wartime sweetheart had been placed in a home that specialized in Dementia. I genuinely feel this broke his heart, but the curse of Dementia had not finished with this dear old lady or, for that matter, dear old Dad, and what I witnessed in those final days not only horrified me but also made me so proud of an older adult whose only wish was to bring back from the abyss, the one thing he loved, his little wartime sweetheart.
I arrived at the home a little before lunch and made my way through the ever-winding grey painted corridors. The place was clean, but there was no mistaking the dank smell of urine. It seemed to be everywhere. Anyway, I arrived at the room just in time to see the orderly bringing in lunch. He looked at no one and returned, brushing past me at the door.
Authors note: Please do not think I am putting down with the nursing staff as they were all angels, all working long, long shifts. I think we all owe our medical professionals a vote of thanks, especially during these Coronavirus days. I think the poor guy was having a bad day.
Anyway, on with our story: By now, dad's poor wife was just skin and bones, you see "Alzheimer's" is such a deadly disease that in the end, it shuts down the bodies organs, a patient does not even remember how to eat and swallow, they starve to death.
Dad did not notice me come in, so I sat and watched as he bent over her frail body while at the same time attempting to feed her from a straw some horrid green mixture which I think was meant to be soup.
While doing this, he was clearly crying, and his shoulders heaved as he continued to feed her, but he kept on until suddenly she seemed to open her eyes and returned my Dad's smile. He cradled her face, and with one last gasp, she trembled and passed away.
Her journey through the long and winding roads of Dementia had come to an end for Dad; however, his battle was beginning. He would also die, only one year later, I am sure, with a broken heart.
Well, folks, that's the end of another short narrative. I do thank you all for reading. It is most appreciated.
My apologies if you found the topic both a bit personal and morbid, but I genuinely feel if we are going to beat this horrid disease, we should not be afraid to talk about it.
So on behalf of the Vandergraph family and every employee at Bargainbrute.com, we thank you for shopping with us today.