When Ralph first received his diagnosis two years ago, memory was the big issue. Short term memory mostly, but also memory of past events and people. In reaction, I became a memory fiend for every factoid, date and name I could squeeze into my brain.
And since Ralph exhibited a new tiredness and a general decrease in energy, I became Ms. Energizer Bunny, joining organizations, making a bigger effort to connect with old friends and even make new ones, beginning projects and setting new goals for my writing.
But lately, not so much.
When I was in my thirties my sister lovingly began to call me Sarge because I was over-organized and maybe a little bossy. Well, now I’m more like Sergeant Bilko, the inept TV character from the 1950s. I forget to sign checks, I lose my airplane ticket. Two nights ago I dragged Ralph to a friend’s house for dinner only to discover I had the nights mixed up.
I am finding it more difficult to rev myself up. I can get chores accomplished but to sit and think creatively—a deep sigh welled up out of my chest just typing those words.
We have been on the MCI/Early Alzheimer’s plateau for a while—and I am not complaining; I hope we stay here indefinitely since once we leave the plateau, the fall will be in one direction, down—but the adrenalin rush of discovering we have Alzheimer’s has worn off.
Oops, did I just write, “we have Alzheimer’s”? It’s a Freudian slip that makes sense. The reality is that the spouse of someone with Alzheimer’s is affected, not only by becoming a caregiver but also in deeper ways as a human being. The intimacy of a marriage, even a marriage with lots of freedom and independence and especially a long marriage, entwines the partners’ identities. Profound changes in one person mean profound changes in the other.
And there are few changes more profound than those caused by Alzheimer’s