Better Them Than Me


Clowning around in 1998. Who knew what would be lurking ahead for us?

Clowning around in 1998. Who knew what would be lurking ahead for us?

Today there was another school shooting. As I listened to the information about what happened on the radio, Frances told me about the lockdown practices they have had at her middle school. I couldn’t help but think back to when I was in school….there was never a drill for a shooter or a thought about someone possibly coming into the school to harm us. Then I thought about the parents who worried about their children when they heard about the shooting and the parents who were unlucky enough to get the call that their child did not survive. Or worse, their child was the shooter. My heartfelt condolences to those families.

Then my mind drifted as I drove and I thought about what it would be like if that happened to us. Don’t we all normally do that? We try to put ourselves into the shoes of others….whether it is a tragedy or winning the lottery…we try to imagine what we would do.

Yet, I wonder, where do we stop imagining ourselves in someone else’s shoes and start thinking it will never happen to us? Isn’t that why people still smoke? Still ride in vehicles without seatbelts? Still drink and drive? Still mix alcohol and drugs? In typical human fashion, we all tend to gravitate to the “I am so sorry that happened to them, but it won’t happen to me” scenario.

I think every single one of us is guilty of this in some shape or form. We have empathy for others going through a horrible crisis, but we stop short of becoming petrified we will also fall victim to whatever atrocity lurks around us. Probably some form of self preservation at its rawest form.

Then, before you have any idea what is going on, you become immersed smack dab in the middle of some awful thing that is ruining your life and the lives of your family members. In my case it is Younger Onset Alzheimer’s. And it sucks. Big time. As I have mentioned many times, I have friends and family that are helping out and doing whatever they can to make this tough road a little smoother. But no matter what they do, they can’t REALLY help. They can’t cure Jim. They can’t stop the progression. They can’t save our children from losing their Dad. They can’t change the fact Frances’ and Brads’ childhoods will be encased in Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s. They watch, they listen, they do. Then they go home and get on with their lives with their healthy families. They see us and are grateful they aren’t us. They know it could happen to them, but think it won’t.

I am not here to be a “Debbie Downer” but let me point out something to each of you: as you get older, the chance that either you or someone you love (parent, spouse, sibling, friend) will succumb to the horrors of a dementia is unbelievably high. Unless a cure, a vaccine or some type of treatment is found, we are all going to feel the excruciating pain and agony of dementia. And the financial burden. Which, in all honesty becomes so consuming you find yourself unable to focus on the person you care so deeply about because you are just trying to survive. And when your loved one is diagnosed, it will be too late to pour in money and try to have your voice heard. If you want to save them or possibly yourself, the time is NOW to do something.

Yes, we all feel like the bad stuff is horrific when it is happening to someone else and we are saddened, yet we are confident it won’t happen to us. What are you going to do when it does?

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posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Uncategorized,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (14)

14 Responses to “Better Them Than Me”

  1. Wanda says:

    Lost the love of my life, to vascular dementia ,a terrible disease ,I pray for a cure soon.

  2. Christine says:

    Just placed my husband in assisted living with early onset Alzheimer’s. It was the most difficult thing I have done in my life. To think that not that long ago, he was driving and thriving. Today, he can no longer make his basic needs known, is almost completely non-verbal, but otherwise the picture of health! His body is in great shape, but his brain is deteriorating so rapidly.
    No one seems to be noticing this is happening to a large population. Less that 200 studies being conducted to find a cure for this? It’s as if the world thinks that these are older folks, they’ve lived their lives, it’s just some “natural” end of life.
    There is nothing “natural” about watching an individual ravaged by this disease.
    We need a cure NOW!

  3. Wendy Sweigert says:

    When my husband got a new diagnosis last month a lot of what we had been going through made more sense. It is still dementia but it is LBD…with hallucinations, delusions and the heavy duty emotional swings that go along with it. He has changed so much in just a few months. I am heartbroken for him and for me. Dementia is devastating for all involved.

  4. joan says:

    dementia is devastating global national tv here in Canada had a special on early dementia.As I watched it ,I thought this happens to other people not us,however it is us!

  5. Lee Ann says:

    This post reminds me of the GarthBrooks song, “The Dance.” Something about if we knew how it would end, would we still dance?” Nobody knows what is in the future. We all hope and pray. And it happens the way it was going to happen all along, sadly.

  6. Mel says:

    I lost my mom to vascular dementia, which her doctor point blank attributed to her many years of smoking. I was her sole caregiver. What I wouldn’t give to have back those last years. She was a wonderful mom, but those last years were beyond awful. You’d never know she was the same person. My heart goes out to anyone who has to go through this, particularly caregivers.

  7. joan says:

    yes Lee Ann after 31 years of happy marriage,2 daughters,one precious grandchild,I think I would dance.Hopefully in a few years we will all be in a better place and look back on this.Some people never get to experience true love

    • Lee Ann says:

      Joan, that’s all that matters. Some people never get that special love. And you have a special history. And that makes it worth it.

  8. joan says:

    Karen you two look so good together ! a perfect match,goodlooking couple,enjoy the moments!

  9. Sandy says:

    This is the best blog of all! Great job!

  10. Christine, I second all your statements. Visiting my Joe would not be possible if I didn’t remember this, Joe has Alzheimer’s but that is not who he is. I see the man that “is” and also look for the man who “was”. Don’t give up he is there. Love and pray for all you wives and children.

  11. Lee Ann says:

    There’s some good news on the “cure”. They have been able to replicate Alzheimer’s plaques or whatever it is in a petri dish. Outside of the brain, they call it their “Alzheimers in a dish.” Doesn’t sound too remarkable, but it gets us a big step closer to a cure, vaccine, genetic insertion, whatever it is that will help cure Alzheimers. It may not help Jim. It may not help any one of us. but it will help your children, for sure. They’re getting closer and closer. I can feel it. Just as with the vaccination against cervical cancer, it just takes some time to get the research done. fingers crossed!!

  12. robert black says:

    hi I am careing for my wife who has early onset alzhimers she was diagnosed 10 years ago she is 59 we have a large family one girl and 5 boys trying to come to terms with this disease is tearing me to bits as you have already said it can happen to anyone you never can see it coming but when it dose its like a ticking bomb people need educated about this because there will be a need for carers to look after people who are affected and there will be a lot unless a cure is found you can never understand it unless you have lived with it 24/7 it is so hard to explain to people what its like friends leave and don’t phone or visit you are cut of from every day things its like living on an other planet but you should never give up on them they are still in there and every so on you will get a glims of them a smile a nod of the head at just the right time I have gone through hell and back with this disease and there have been times when I wanted to walk away from it but i could never leave my wife when she needs me at this point in her life I feel as my life is over but have to stay strong for her sorry for rambling

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