My Day That Will Live in Infamy

October 28th, 2014 was on a Friday. I know this because I just looked it up on the calendar. It would be a day that changed my life, my family’s life, forever.

Shannon and I were sitting in my Neurologists’ office, awaiting the results from my MRI and Cognitive Testing. Once he was seated, he started explaining things, the way Dr’s do, but I remember stopping him and asking the question . . . “DO I HAVE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?”
He paused for a moment, and then answered, “YES.”

I don’t remember much after that. I know he explained the results of the MRI and my Cognitive Testing (which I found out later that I failed miserably) and he explained the results of the genetics and protein studies. The only thing I DO  remember was Shannon, holding my hand while I cried uncontrollably, and telling me, “It’s going to be OK. We’ll get through this together” or something along those lines.

I thought of my Mother, who, at the time, was still alive but in the last stages of her Alzheimer’s battle. (she would pass away 3 months later)
I thought of my Father who passed away in 2010 with Vascular Dementia.
I thought of my Grandfather who passed away in 1985  with Alzheimer’s.
I thought of Shannon’s Grandmother who had passed away only 2 months earlier with Alzheimer’s.

I’ll tell you, being around Alzheimer’s and Dementia Related Illnesses is difficult in and of itself, but it does not compare to Living with the Disease. I equate it to the obnoxious relative that comes for a visit . . .  and winds up staying . . . only to get more annoying as times goes on . . . and NEVER LEAVES!

I’ll tell you something else. The brain is strange and wonderful. Although Alzheimer’s has erased a lot of my short-term memory from my brain, it still allows me to remember certain things. I’ll explain.
Let’s go back to October 28, 2014. 
On the way home, Shannon and I were silent. I guess that was to be expected after the news we just received. I guess I was trying to wrap my head around what I was going to do from this point forward when I had my “Eureka Moment!”

I turned to Shannon and said, “I know what I have to do.”
She asked what I was thinking.

I said, “I have to talk about it.”
She replied with something that has stuck with me for the past 2 years . . .

“Once you put it out there, you can’t take it back!”

I have heard those words so many times in my head as well as during the many times I repeat them as part of my “Alzheimer’s: Up close and Personal” presentation. I can tell you those words have come back to haunt me for when I broke the news about having Alzheimer’s Disease, it did 2 things:
1) Being that I am not in my 70’s or 80’s and I can still do “some of the things” I have always done, some people doubt that I actually have Alzheimer’s Disease and have taken the time to tell me so.
2) I have lost a lot of friends and/or acquaintances because they don’t feel I am still the person I once was. Therefore I’m not able to converse, tell/understand jokes, etc . . .

I chalk it up to lack of Alzheimer’s knowledge and awareness in our society. That’s why when I told Shannon I wanted to talk about it, neither one of us expected I would be speaking to all types of audiences in numerous locations explaining what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s Disease.

This is not exactly the life I wanted to live, nor is it how I wanted to spend my retirement, however, we sometimes have to accept the cards we are dealt and make the most of it. It also makes it a bit easier to have 3 people, whom I love most in the world, right by my side. Shannon, Asheton and Bradley are right with me on my Alzheimer’s Journey. They help when I need them, they help when I don’t “THINK” I need them and they are there to laugh with me, to cry with me, to joke with me and to make me feel as normal as can be. They are the true example of family.
(I almost forgot to mention, Dallas, my furry friend, who has the intuition as to when I am having good and bad days and attempts to take care of me.)

So, I can look at October 28, 2014 as the day that I received the diagnosis of having a devasting, fatal disease and have a continuous, daily pity party
or,
I can look at October 28th, 2014 as the day that put me on a positive path to help others understand this devastating, fatal disease and at the same time, keeping me “In The Moment.”

I think you know which choice I chose!

Thanks for reading!
Until next time,

PEACE!
B

A Little “Monkee-ing” Around

“Here we come, walkin’ down the street,
We get the funniest looks from, ev’ry one we meet.
Hey, Hey we’re The Monkees . . .

Yes, I’m talking about “The Monkees.” The same “Monkees” who appeared on your TV’s on Saturday mornings in the 60’s. They are still performing today, well, 2 out of the 4 Monkees are. As you may know, or haven’t heard, Davy Jones passed away in February 2012 and Mike Nesmith no longer tours with Micky and Peter.

So, why am I wrimg_4739iting this blog post about “The Monkees?” ? Well, thanks for asking.
Shannon (my wife) and I went to Biloxi, MS last weekend (10/1) and saw them at the Hard Rock Live. They put on a great show, singing their songs, playing their instruments as if they were still in their 20’s. At 71 (Micky) and 74 (Peter) they can still rock it!

It was not so much the actual performers we went to see (well, Shannon did have a bit of a crush on Micky when she was younger) but it was the music they perform.
Sitting in that audience Saturday night, listening to them play all of their hits (and there were many) it just made me smile and forget about my Alzheimer’s for a bit. I was that little kid again, sitting on the floor watching TV, singing along to “Take the Last Train to Clarksville”, “I’m a Believer”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, just to name a few. And no, it wasn’t just me. The entire audience was singing along.

It’s a proven fact that while music can soothe and relax most people, it has a profound effect on individuals living with Alzheimer’s.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association “Music can be powerful. Studies have shown music may reduce agitation and improve behavioral issues that are common in the middle-stages of the disease. Even in the late-stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to tap a beat or sing lyrics to a song from childhood. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult.”
Read more: http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-music-art-therapy.asp#ixzz4MVXGu4Zr

Being I’m in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, I utilize music to kee me calm and relaxed. It takes the edge off and keeps me from being anxious. When I hear one of my favorite songs, it sort of transports me back to a place where I was clear-minded, relaxed and happy. I can only hope when I get into my later stages, music will bring me comfort.

OK, back to “ The Monkees.” 

 Like all of us, they’ve changed a bit.

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It’s just age. It happens to all of us, but like their song says, “That Was Then, This Is Now.”

They are still funny (especially Peter), bantering back and forth. There was a huge screen behind them  playing videos and showing photos from their TV show and performances. They even had Davy Jones singing his vocals on “Daydream Believer”. It was a bittersweet moment for the audience as well as for his 2 friends on stage.

I walked away from that concert feeling refreshed, clear-minded, wishing it would it would last . . . and it did, at least for a little while. 

Thank You Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork for continuing to do what you do.
Thanks also to Mike Nesmith and the late Davy Jones for doing what you did.

PEACE!
B