The words are like the two lenses in a pair of glasses.
Once you hear the words being used to describe someone you love, once you put the glasses on, everything comes into focus. Everything seems sharper, clearer. Events, memories, conversations – all make more sense.
The lenses make the things in front of you seem more in focus and the things far off in the distance seem much sharper.
The lenses give insight. While the actual words dementia and Alzheimer’s are not welcome words to hear, the words, like lenses, make the world look different.
For the person hearing the words “You have Alzheimer’s” the lens begins to unfocused more, progressively – like being given a pair of glasses that have an old prescription, continually being given an older and older pair or lenses. The world becomes less focused.
The lenses given to me when I was told my mom has Alzheimer’s are sharp, perhaps too sharp. The word Alzheimer’s was hard to hear but wasn’t unexpected. The word gave context to things my mom had been saying and doing.
But are the lenses so sharp that they make me look for things that aren’t really there? Was the searching for a word because of the Alzheimer’s or was it simply searching for a word the way we all do from time to time? Are the mixed up details of a story she’s telling due to the Alzheimer’s or is it simply that the story was so long ago that the details have become shrouded in the proverbial mists of time?
Do I look closely because I want to find examples of the Alzheimer’s to help confirm the diagnosis, or am I looking closely because I want to be able to explain things away: it’s just age, we all forget some as we age?
I suspect the answer is a bit of both.
(This post was previously published on my former blog on January 14, 2016)
The Uninvited Guest is a series of posts about Alzheimer’s disease: mostly from a caregiver’s perspective, as I can only watch my mother deal with this disease. She refuses (understandably) to discuss it, so I can’t really write about what she is or isn’t feeling. This series of posts is meant to be raw and honest – so they won’t be polished and proofed – probably only spell-checked. I want to write them while the feelings are still fresh – polishing can come at another time.
These posts will be a variety of forms: narrative essay, lists, journal entry, poem, photo with text; some will be long, others just a few words or sentences.
Previous Posts can be found here.