By Peter A. Morris
So, if we, as human beings, are to suffer the indignity of losing our minds as a result of reaching a mature age, it would make one ponder if it was worthwhile leading a life of adventure and accomplishment!
Dementia (in all its various forms), surreptitiously and without conscience, picks and tears one’s life apart bit by bit. With no known cause, and without a cure, it gradually creeps into an individual’s life, stealing parts of it as time goes on.
It takes away one’s ability one piece (sometimes several pieces) at a time. For a while it goes unnoticed, but then one realizes that one is forgetting certain things, such as the morning bathroom routine. This happened to me, so in the end I had to make a list of the five or six things that made up that session. Now I have to check that list every day to be sure I have not missed something.
Memory, of course, is the obvious sufferer. I get to the point of realizing that the conversation I had five minutes ago is a total blank. And the name of the person I spoke to? Gone forever. I also miss appointments if they are not clearly written down somewhere obvious; they disappear in the melee of a brain that is unable to function as it should.
I regularly attend an exercise class, and am confronted with a roomful of people, many of whom know my name and greet me using it. Then I have to figure out who they are, and if I know them or not. It’s usually safe to assume I do, but don’t ask me to put a name to each face.
I often see advertised a lecture or presentation coming up on a subject that interests me and that I would like to attend. But then I realize that if I do, I may come away from it remembering absolutely nothing that was said.
Life is becoming really interesting but unfortunately confusing at the same time. Added to a lifetime of epileptic seizures, is a recent pacemaker, and lately a diagnosis of migralepsy which creates its own mental challenges. Ah, the joys of the ‘golden years!’
When I was a ship’s Captain, I was fortunate to find a First Mate in Jassandra, who has given me twenty-five years of uncompromised love and devotion. Without her, I would not now have much of a life, but she has made it possible for me to enter my eighty-fifth year with few drugs and with my sanity almost intact. To anyone venturing into the ‘adventure’ of dementia, I hope you also have someone similar, whose love and patience will keep the monsters of loss at bay, and make your life as livable and as pleasant as possible.