I will try to continue now to talk about the dark hole I was in after being diagnosed. I remember waking up many, many nights in a fully awake nightmare. Reaching out some times for the sides of the truck we used to drive when we were truck drivers, and not finding a wall there, but thin air. Then the falling down onto the floor. Waking my husband, the flash of the bedroom light coming on, the walls around me not looking familiar at all. Sometimes I would just wake shaking Sean trying to wake him up, telling him we are going to be late getting to work because we overslept. Other times, waking up, turning my head and feeling so scared, so afraid to move, to breathe, to utter even a sound because I had no idea who the man in my bed was.
Thankfully the months and months of these horrible nights did not lead to years – as of yet. Luckily I was being given different kinds of meds to try to help with the disease’s side effects. Yes, it was hard, and still is, being that “lab rat”, but in the beginning, it was my only hope to get any real grasp on not only my night terrors, but also staying alive and wanting to stay living.
If it wasn’t for that dear neurologist I spoke of in an earlier blog, I don’t think I would be here today. Not that my family wasn’t supportive and there for me, but they had no idea how to even begin to try and find “something that worked” medically for me and my condition.
If you’re a parent, have you ever felt that absolute terror of losing your child’s hand in a store? Or a phone call in the middle of the night about a car accident a loved one was in? Or even that horrible message that a person you loved passed away? That’s what I felt every single night I went to bed – and sometimes during the day too. I honestly couldn’t tell any of you how I ever got through it. I know my faith in God is the correct answer, and of course what I believe. But if you would have seen and known me back then, you would have had your doubts too.
I know things started slowly. I do remember with the new meds, the side effects from the meds themselves were taking up most of my “mental” state and the disease was kind of put on a back burner per say. I went through many physical pains from the meds and some mental too. Just because of all the juggling going on inside of my brain. But in time, some of it got better. I still couldn’t fully process daily tasks or remember my days or the many faces I seen in my doctor’s offices. I didn’t quite truly understand why all of a sudden I was no longer alone at home anymore either, or why I just couldn’t grab my keys and head to the beach anytime I wanted to. I started to really miss privacy and “my alone time”.
Some of my memories were there again all of a sudden too. Like a lightbulb was turned on. But at the same time, I couldn’t remember what I had ate for breakfast or what time of the year it was.
They say with Alzheimer’s your memories go backwards, and in a way, I would say that sounds pretty close. But not quite right either. It hasn’t really gone backwards, it’s more like my childhood memories are more “in front” now. The things I had forgotten over time, were like they had just happened a couple years before, instead of many, many years earlier. I dont quite remember names of childhood friends exactly, but remember faces and/or events. I remember things that made me laugh and things that made me cry. I remember now even more since my dad had passed away, of how much I couldn’t wait until he got home from work every night. How much my mom and dad loved me and how much I loved them. I remember the little things too – the pond my dad dug that we fished and swam in. The wind blowing through my hair as I rode my bike up and down the hills by my childhood home. I remember the smell of my mom’s lilacs and the acres of freshly mowed grass my dad had just cut. I remember the sounds in the distance of owls and birds and crickets and bullfrogs outside my bedroom window.I remember the feeling of the sun beating down on my face as I swang in an old tire swing my dad made for me. I remembered the sound of an old car my brother drove as it rounded the corner coming home and of the gravel underneath as he pulled into the front of our house.
I remember running with my dog Pepper and chasing rabbits to hopefully just once to be able to pet one. I remember sitting on my back porch with my grandpa as he showed me his collection of matchbooks. I remember my grandma telling me stories about my ancestors and at the same time, her loving to watch the races on her TV. I remember the prickers from all the raspberry and blackberry bushes I used to climb through to just fill a basket with. I remember the warmth of my father’s woodstove he built and the fresh smell of bread my mom had just baked. I remember the snow forts I used to build with my dad and brothers and I remember skiing down our back hill with my mom and dad. I remember eating snow and making snow angels. I remember snow ball fights and hot cocoa out of a thermos. I even remember my daddy carrying me to bed when I fell asleep on his lap.
I remember being baptized and our church family. I remember my sister and my brother’s weddings and my nieces and nephews as they were each born. I even remember most of their friends throughout the years and finally, my first car.
No, I don’t believe my memory has gone backwards. I believe the beautiful blessings I’ve had in my life have taken a front seat ahead of any and all the bad, and pushed aside the things that never really mattered …