Sunday, March 6, 2011

My mother died of Alzheimer's disease.......

Wow, it has been two months since I posted on this blog. Not much new in the Alzheimer's world as far as cures or new effective treatments. Of course the National Alzheimer's project passed, if you are suffering with AD or are a caregiver, this really does not change much in your life on a day to day basis. Perhaps our children or our children's children will not have to be stricken with AD.

24 years ago today, March 6, 1987, my mother died from Alzheimer's disease. Her children were at her bedside as she took her last breath. It was five days before her seventieth birthday. I was 25 years old and a third year medical student. She had been diagnosed 9 years before she died and went through all the classic stages of AD. By the time she died it had been so long, since I had known her as my mother, since she was able to converse, laugh, smile, at times it was hard to remember her that way.

About 10 minutes before she died, I was sitting at the foot of her bed. (We were all holding vigil, she was fairly comatose, No feeding tube, just nasal cannula oxygen. She had been like that for almost two weeks/ We all wanted her to stop suffering, we wanted it to be over. For her torment and suffering at the hands of this rotten nefarious neurologically deteriorating process.)  In the final ten minutes of her physical life on earth, a wave of anguish came over me. I had a sense, some atavistic instinct that it was over.  She was leaving the earth.  I started to cry hard, and I felt so terrible, it seemed that all the years I had tried to be strong during her ordeal were coming out. I didn't want her to die, I wanted her to be back and be her old self. I knew somehow that it was over, the Alzheimer's had taken everything and the last thing left to take was her physical life, her breath.

The sad thing is, when you loose a parent to Alzheimer's, you feel like a part of yourself dies with them. That feeling never goes away. I think because it in part a living death every day. A slow progressive heartbreaking daily thing. On one hand you hope for a cure, and on another hand you want them to get better and die and stop suffering. It is a profoundly ambivalent form of grief. Then when they do physically die you are so damn heartbroken over the whole long drawn out process.
another year has clicked by. most of us always remember the date our parents died. I guess it is one more way to mark the life cycle.

To all those struggling, if you are having a bad day, hang in there, life is not static it is dynamic, it will not always feel as bad as today. If you are a caregiver and you loved one is having a good day, cherish it, laugh, smile, hold it in your heart forever. God Bless

5 comments:

mary said...

God Bless You for sharing, Thanks.

karen said...

Thank you.

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Talking about the book with the Lake Superior wind....... a calm day