This post has definitely been a hard one to write. It’s a combination of loss for words and avoiding sadness.
I’ll start with my first experience with Alzheimer’s. I don’t recall the exact age, but I was very young, and received the news that my nonno (Italian for grandfather) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Here are the things I remember about my nonno: he had a sense of humor, he loved to sing, he loved to hunt (I’ll forgive him for that one because he loved dogs), and he cared very dearly about providing for his family. He taught me the Italian songs that I still know how to sing. I was young when he passed away, 18; but I still have good memories of times spent together, laughing, singing, and of course (we’re Italian) eating.
My nonna is a strong woman, she also has a sense of humor which can erupt an entire room into laughter (I will never forget the time nonna, staring directly at a young man who was about to pass out from being so drunk, made a gregarious hand gesture and yells, “You have a bit too much of da juice?”).
I remember it being hard times for her when my nonno wasn’t doing so well. She was stressed, sad, confused, and so many emotions which it feels unfair for such a spirit to have to endure. I know that the love my nonna and nonno had for one another helped them through such a difficult time. I’m not a religious person, but I believe they will see each other again one day, without the burdens of life’s difficulties. Until then, I’m happy I still have my nonna here with me.
Now for the part that seems so unfair to be true. Would you imagine that this disease would affect this family once again? Well, it has. Almost one year from today my dad received the diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s.
I’m going to start by telling you the positive things: he is active, strives to eat healthy, has a positive outlook, he doesn’t smoke, he drinks one glass of red wine each night, and it’s early. Now that list is suppose to make us all feel better. I guess the most important thing to me is that my dad is happy and enjoying life.
If you know me or you’ve read my posts, I’m a realist. I’m also a speech language pathologist, I’ve worked with people who’ve had dementia, traumatic brain injury, dysphagia, etc. and I know all too well the various roads that could be ahead. My dad is right though, we can’t worry about what’s ahead, we can only try and handle what’s right there in front of you.
I’m telling you my story because you can help. They’ve made so many advances in the area of Alzheimer’s; however, they still have not determined a cure and the medicine they are using to slow the progress is the same medicine they were using when I was in grad school 5 years ago.
Please join me and my team to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s. A few of my family members and I are doing a walk in Southern California on November 14th, 2015. I invite you to join us on the walk and/or donate to help make a difference in the lives of so many.