I hope all of you are experiencing the greatest joys this season can have to offer. My personal history with Christmastime is spotty (at the least), but the very woman who inspires and whose recovery fuels this blog single-handedly returned the love and joy of the Holidays to my heart, and it is in that spirit that I work to bring Christmas joy into this home and to share it with each and every soul I encounter.
Jacquelynn and I have made a significant turn this week. While there are always difficulties and tears, her curiosity and thirst for improvement have reached a point where she is eager to begin retraining her brain. To that end, we went out this morning and purchased several sets of beginner math and phonics flashcards. Considering she truly is such a polymath, I was concerned about trying something so basic as she may consider it insulting, I was also a bit worried that if she did have difficulty with them, it would hurt her even more.
This, by the way, is what my father referred to as “borrowing trouble”, and I should damn well know better.
So, we went to our local United Art And Education store (a favorite place of mine) and purchased 4 decks; Addition, Subtraction, Phonics, and Words. I think we’ll begin with words, as nouns seem to be her biggest hang up in expressing herself. Additionally, this is a focus of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA) test everyone wants to put her through every time we visit a doctor. This may empower her to face those tests with confidence rather than the immense pressure that all but paralyzes her each time.
During the conversations that led to this shopping trip, I reviewed with her the most recent improvements I’ve noticed in her recovery. These so excited her that she instantly began reaching and asking for more ways to exercise and hone her mind. Individually, many of the recent changes for the better in her everyday behavior could be seen as insignificant, but taken collectively, they would seem to indicate an increase in cognitive capacity. However small, these things must be highlighted and pointed out, and they must also be celebrated. This helps to give life and reality to the feeling of improvement, and to buoy her spirits when she occasionally feels that she’s going backward rather than forward.
For instance, every time we prepare her for her shower, I take her jewelry (wedding rings and Fitbit bracelet) off. Afterward, when I take her back to the room to put them back on, she has always offered me her right hand. Of course, the rings go on the left, but as she’s right-handed, it’s easy to see why she unconsciously leads with it. Yesterday, however, and for the first time in almost a year of me managing her showers, she casually and unthinkingly offered me her left hand when I told her I was going to return her wedding rings to her.
Insignificant? Maybe, but I don’t believe so. She unconsciously offered the proper hand after all this time, and I choose to make note of it.
At the same time, I made note of her greatly improved sense of balance in both donning and removing her shoes. In the past several weeks, she’s progressed from needing to sit down and have her foot guided into the shoe (or to have me remove them for her) to balancing herself against the chair while stepping into the shoe and removing them just the way you and I do; by stepping against the heel with the opposite foot and stepping out of the shoe. Again, an obvious and very notable improvement.
Finally, and you’ll forgive me here; I wasn’t raised to discuss such things publicly. It feels wrong, but I did promise to be open and honest about her progress, and I do believe this is important.
Jacquelynn has begun expressing real interest in physical relations again. Not that we’ve never discussed it before, but for the first time since her diagnosis early last year she is giving the idea actual thought, rather than responding to stimuli.
We had a long talk about it, and I made it clear that I was never going to ask it of her, but that she should never hesitate to raise the subject. Everyone wants to feel desired, and I made it as clear as I possibly could that she is what I want, and I’m not going to go looking elsewhere for anything. I’ll be here when she needs/wants me to be. For reasons she couldn’t express, this brought her to smiling tears and a great relief I had no idea she needed. She didn’t suspect otherwise, according to her, but hearing it had a profound effect on her.
I realize that some/all of this is resultant of her hormones returning to a normal level via her meds, but this is key to full and proper cognitive function, so I’m calling it a full-fledged win.
Jacquelynn is also having a better time with her pills. Some of them (tablets, mostly) still give her a bit of pause, but overall it’s much easier for her today than just a few days ago.
I want to take a moment to thank you all for following this blog both via WordPress and through facebook.com/SimplyUplift/. Many of you have shared and helped to disseminate this page so as to help get the important message that Alzheimer’s isn’t a death sentence. SO many people are diagnosed each and every day whose doctors (like Jacquelynn’s former PCP) won’t, for whatever reason, expose them to the “alternative” (i.e. only) treatment protocols. If not for a truly charitable stranger who sent me the name of Dr. Bredesen in hopes it would be of help, I don’t know where we’d be today. I do know that without the help we’ve received, it’s very possible that Jacquelynn wouldn’t even know me by next Spring. Maybe sooner. I was losing her very quickly, but now I have her back and our future is open-ended and without limit.
Spread this blog, and spread the word. Do for someone else what he did for us.
Save a life.