Dear Family and Friends,
My friends, Barb and Al Webb, continue to share what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s. Today, the story is upbeat. I hope it lifts your heart the way it lifted mine.
It reminds me a little of the early years of Alzheimer’s for my mother-in-law. She would forget something and someone would gently correct her, and then she would respond, “Oh, I guess that’s my Alzheimer’s.”
Perhaps you, like me, have made jokes about having an “Alzheimer’s moment.” We weren’t trying to be insensitive, and I suspect each of us is really fearful of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But you’ll see below how Al and Barb are trying to turn his diagnosis into some good:
The story from Barbara’s perspective:
We were out with 3 other couples from church last week for dinner. We have been with them before, but don’t know them well. We are still learning about each other. The subject turned to health issues and we were talking about everything under the sun from healthcare reform to aging to minor aches and pains we all have, when one of the men said there is one illness he hopes he never gets. It would be the worst thing to have and he’d rather be dead than go through dementia. It got pretty quiet around the table and I looked at Al and raised my eyebrows at him. I wasn’t sure how he was going to react – was he sad, angry or depressed about what was said? He didn’t miss a beat. But I think I’ll let him tell you what happened next. When you are finished reading Al’s side of the story I think you will agree that I am married to a really special and remarkable man!!
As Barbara stated, we were enjoying a nice dinner and conversation with friends we recently began getting together with. Everyone was relaxed and talking and laughing and bemoaning the fact that aging is not for sissies when someone (I’ll call him Joe) stated he’d rather be dead than have dementia. For a split second, I felt like I had been slapped in the face, but then I remembered that he didn’t know of my diagnosis and never meant to hurt my feelings or embarrass me. I could see Barbara looking at me to see how I was going to react. The only thing I could think of was that this was my opportunity to let them know I have Alzheimer’s and to let them see that life does go on and is still definitely worth living. So in a few short seconds, I looked around the table and stated, “A while ago I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and you are right, it isn’t fun. But we are dealing with it in the best way we can, by being open about it and not hiding anything.”
Joe began apologizing and I just told him not to worry, that all was o.k. We then were able to talk for a little while about some of the statistics and about our daily life and how different it is today from 3 ½ years ago. We also asked them that anytime they have some extra money to donate to a charity, the Alzheimer’s Association is a very worthy cause. So what remained of the evening was not only salvaged from disaster, but also turned into an opportunity to share some of our life with others. For me, that’s what it’s all about – that and finding a cure for this horrible disease!!
Thanks for sharing this story, Barb and Al! If you’d like to share your story on this blog, please email me at email@example.com. And if you’d like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, please visit www.alz.org/kyin or call 502-451-4266. Thank you, on behalf of Al, Barb, my mother-in-law and the 5.4 million other Americans with Alzheimer’s!