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Before My Eyes: A Daughter’S Personal Journey with Her Mother into Alzheimer’S Disease

Before My Eyes: A Daughter’S Personal Journey with Her Mother into Alzheimer’S Disease

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Before My Eyes: A Daughter’S Personal Journey with Her Mother into Alzheimer’S Disease

Longitud:
95 página
1 hora
Editorial:
Publicado:
Apr 2, 2010
ISBN:
9781450216777
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Imagine the heart-wrenching devastation that is experienced by a family when a parent is diagnosed with Alzheimers disease! In Before My Eyes, author Diane Currie shares her candid and personal reflections about her mothers struggle with this disease as she copes with the reality of the present but always honors the memory of the past.
Through a series of moving vignettes, she remains connected with her mother in a creative way as the strong bond between them slowly dissolves as the disease progresses. From the first moment of her mothers diagnosis, Currie conveys in a captivating manner the intense feelings of loss and hopelessness one experiences when dealing with this dreadful disease. She is able to portray the subtle changes in her mothers behavior and personality throughout her decline, all in a deeply human way.
While Before My Eyes describes one familys touching and painful journey, in essence Curries reflective account may typify the Alzheimers experience, while offering support and validation to all those who walk its arduous path.
Editorial:
Publicado:
Apr 2, 2010
ISBN:
9781450216777
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Diane Currie journeyed with her mother through Alzheimers disease for nearly seven years. She has published several articles in local papers and journals relating to the grief of losing her mother to this disease. She holds a BS degree in Business Administration and lives with her family in New Jersey.

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Vista previa del libro

Before My Eyes - Dianne Currie

03/25/2010

Contents

Acknowledgments

Foreword by William E. Klunk, MD, PhD

Introduction

My Journal

Things That Are Seen and Unseen

Life Just Stopped

I Have a Home

Restlessness

I Have a Question

Smile

But I Don’t Need Help

Just One More Time

Mom’s New Home

Why Did You Leave?

The Beauty of Patience

Will You Remember Me?

The Ice Cream Truck

There’s No Place Like Home

Oh God, Please Help Me!

One Miraculous Day

Thanks for Caring

The Embrace

The Mother I Remember

To Marilyn—

They say that angels walk among us. I am privileged to know one. Thank you for everything!

Acknowledgments

To Sister Philip, my dear friend: thanks for graciously reading my material, and for believing that this story needed to be told. Every time you said, Are you still writing? you inspired me to continue. Your prayers and support over the years have been a great source of strength to me.

To Grace and Anna, my dearest friends: Grace, you were always available to answer my technical questions with ease and grace (no pun intended). Anna, your calm assurance and patient listening supported me on this journey.

I dedicate this to the memory of my beloved aunt Elaine, who read most of this manuscript before she passed. She had always hoped for a miraculous cure for Mom when all the while Aunt Elaine needed her own miracle. Her selfless spirit and gentle ways will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, sweet angel.

To all my friends, neighbors, and coworkers who frequently ask about Mom: Thanks for remembering that she still exists.

Finally, to Marilyn, many thanks for your unending support, care, and gentle guidance. You were not only the first to read my manuscript but also the first to edit it. But most important, you have been the calm through all the storms, and I am eternally grateful.

Foreword

by

William E. Klunk, MD, PhD

Diane Currie’s collection of vignettes about her mom make up a personal and introspective account of the journey this mother and daughter have made into the uncharted depths of Alzheimer’s disease. There are lessons to be learned here about Alzheimer’s, about caregiving, and about the human condition. For me, it is a poignant reminder of how much we still do not know about this condition named for the German psychiatrist who first examined the brain of a middle-aged woman who showed many of the same symptoms as Diane’s beloved mother, Millie.

I first became aware of Millie’s story when Diane contacted me with questions about the one miraculous day when her mom seemed to have a brief awakening. I still have no good scientific explanation for that phenomenon. However, it does point out that even when we cannot easily find the person we once knew, there may be a much greater capacity for emotional connection than we realize.

During my conversations with Diane about her mother, my own wife was experiencing the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease in her mother. I often thought of how much my wife would love to have one miraculous day with her mom at that point. We never did have such an experience, and I know most people will never experience that sort of awakening. Still, this and many other vignettes in Diane Currie’s collection should remind us that we really don’t know where the people with Alzheimer’s we once knew have gone and that more of them may still be there before our eyes than it seems. It points out the need to nurture the emotional connection even after the verbal connection is lost.

Dr. Klunk is a professor of psychiatry and neurology and co-director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. He is co-inventor of the brain imaging agent known as Pittsburgh Compound-B or PiB. Brain imaging with PiB has allowed medical researchers to see, for the first time in living people, the amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. PiB imaging has allowed many new insights into Alzheimer’s disease and is playing an important role in the discovery of new drugs to treat it.

Introduction

When my mother first received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease on September 11, 2002, I was familiar with the condition, but like most people, I thought it would never affect my family. Mom was seventy-five years old at the time and had been in exceptionally good health. My mother, who was widowed in 1984, lived with and cared for her parents until their death. Even though in her later years she lived alone, she was very independent. Having never learned to drive a car, Mom was quite accustomed to using public transportation. She occupied her time volunteering for church functions and the local county elections. Mom had always been wary of doctors and avoided them whenever possible. Most likely she had not seen a doctor since 1965 when she gave birth to me, the youngest of three children. When she was finally persuaded to undergo a routine physical and have basic blood work done, I was sure the doctor would deliver an unfavorable diagnosis. Much to my surprise, Mom was the picture of almost perfect health.

But Mom began to exhibit unusual changes in behavior, such as noticeable episodes of forgetfulness, a loss of interest in normal daily activities, and a lack of self-care. Through the years, Mom had always been her own person and had exhibited some rather eccentric behaviors. As in many families, she was known to be the colorful member, who often added an element of surprise to family gatherings. Because of Mom’s personality quirks, it was probably easy for all of us to overlook the early signs that something was amiss.

Now, however, something more was happening. Eventually I returned with Mom to the doctor, who administered a memory test. Mom did not do very well, and the doctor felt strongly that she displayed the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. This determination was based upon the test results, as well as Mom’s responses to questions, along with some family members’ assessments of the changes we had been observing.

Mom slipped into the depths of Alzheimer’s very rapidly, as her erratic behaviors became more obvious to me and more debilitating to her. The doctor ordered more specific lab tests on Mom and discovered that her B12 level and thyroid readings were out of range, which added some confusion to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. A low B12 level and hyperthyroid condition can adversely affect memory. However, despite the doctor’s ability to restore both the B12 and thyroid to a normal level with medication, Mom continued to mentally decline. She also underwent an MRI of her brain which indicated that she might have suffered a mini-stroke in the past. Finally, we arranged to have Mom evaluated at a facility that specialized in Alzheimer’s testing and research. Mom was thoroughly tested, and the findings confirmed all the other test results, as well as the suspicions we had about her behavior. The diagnosis was that she had what appeared to be Alzheimer’s disease.

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