Friday, June 21, 2013

Second Anniversary

You get a bonus post today.

Not only is today the longest day, it is also an anniversary of sorts.  Two years ago today, Lyn was diagnosed with dementia.

In terms of seeking a diagnosis, this came relatively quickly.  In April of 2011, pieces finally started clicking together for us to see that something was going on.  We just didn't know what.  We didn't know if she was having seizures again.  We didn't know if she was having a cognitive decline as a result of her already present brain damage.

We've learned a tremendous amount in the last two years.  We've learned that Alzheimer's disease does not wait until you are elderly to strike, that it can be present and actively impacting your thoughts and behaviors for a decade before anyone thinks that something's wrong.  We've learned about individuals who have an Alzheimer's diagnosis as early as 25 or 30 years old and that a couple of mutated genes have been implicated in their conditions.  We've learned that mice have to be genetically engineered to produce Alzheimer's-like symptoms but that the animal model is a bit further from the human model in Alzheimer's than we would like.  As a result, drugs that work in animals do not correlate to drugs that work in humans. . . yet.  We've learned that an individual's progression through the stages of Alzheimer's is not clearly delineated or follows the same pace or exact same progression.  In general, the younger you receive your diagnosis, the faster the disease progresses.

Beyond all the Alzheimer's related experience and knowledge we've gained, we've learned that in sharing it, we help ourselves and help others.  We've made connections with others who are providing care for their spouse, parent or other loved one with Alzheimer's.  We've had numerous opportunities to hear from others with Alzheimer's as well.  Those individuals bring a voice to what Lyn experiences that she does not have to express what she's experiencing.

We are watching Lyn decline fairly quickly and know that the time will come soon where the little independence she has will be gone.  While we do not have hope that a cure will be found for Lyn, we do have hope that a preventative treatment will be found one day to help the rest of us from avoiding this disease.

Through all of this, all of what we've learned, all of what she's lost, we still find our hearts breaking with each new loss, each new change.  This is why Alzheimer's is the long good bye.  You don't get to say a simple good bye to the person.  You say good bye to the myriad facets of what made them the person they were.  In saying good bye, however, we have an opportunity to celebrate that that now lost achievement was ever made in the firs place.  We can choose to rewatch the life movie of our daughter, sister, friend and relive her moments as her life unwinds.  And we can see and honor the person she continues to be.

Lyn is still in there.

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