I don’t think any of us who’ve been through this journey through dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease with our loved ones doesn’t have events like “Gracious Goodbyes – Missed Connections” describes.
Somewhere back in the farthest corners of our minds, when even the simplest things escape our short-term memories (I’ve had so many of these lately when I have not been, when asked a direct question, in a sort of on-the-spot situation, that I knew the answer to like the back of my hand, able to find the answer – I suspect rationally that it is stress and overload, but there’s always that nagging fear that this is the beginning of a journey I’ve already been on and don’t want to go on again), we wonder if this the beginning of our own journeys into dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Ironically, I am not related biologically to my mom, who suffered from vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. So, based on biology and logic, I shouldn’t worry. However, I know so little of my own biological background and medical history that I realize everything in this arena is totally up in the air.
On the one hand, I don’t know that I really care, in the big scheme of things. After all, I’m human. Therefore, by default, I’m terminal. The unknowns are when, how, why, what, and where. My hope (and prayer) has always been quick, soon, and with as little fuss and muss as possible.
I don’t want anyone to have to execute my DNR and my living will, both of which give me the quickest exit possible from this physical life. I’d rather God just step in, end my life in a flash, without leaving the agony of honoring my wishes to those that would have to make those decisions. I know they would, but I’d rather spare them the pain of having to do it.
But I also do not want my loved ones to have to go through the prolonged process of me dying the slow death, first mentally, then physically, that dementias and Alzheimer’s Disease bring. So, in that sense, I do care. Not for myself or for my life physically, but for those who would have to deal with these diseases if they come.
So, in the back of my mind, I don’t worry so much as I pray that I’m spared this particular way of exiting physical life. Each time I forget something I know I know, when I’m put on the spot to remember it, brings a twinge of anxiety, a moment of wondering, a slightly deeper intake of breath for what might be, what could be, but what I hope and pray will never be for me or for my loved ones.