Lost in a Fog

Alzheimer’s and dementia are the work of the devil. I have had two family members diagnosed with these awful, evil diseases and it has made life’s journey almost unbearable at certain points. I believe diseases of the mind such as these are some of the worst diseases in the entire world. They completely turn people into someone they are not and take away their dignity. My family and I have suffered through these diseases and although it has been extremely tough, we have learned a lot along the way.

My grandfather’s life was taken by Alzheimer’s October 2012. This may have been when his body died but his mind had died long before this. His death didn’t fully hit me because I had felt like our family had lost him a long time ago when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. When I was a little girl, I would spend a lot of time with my grandfather. He would always play dolls with me and I would help him out with chores and he was just a great grandpa. However, by the time I was old enough to truly get to know him as a person, Alzheimer’s had already taken over his life. He did not recognize me or any of his other grandchildren or children. It was hard to be around my grandfather and realize that he truly had no idea who I was, I was a stranger to him and he became a stranger to me. As I grew older I began to forget what he was like before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I missed out on the chance to truly get to know what he was like and there was no way of preventing this. I know he was an amazing person from what I hear from other family members and family friends but I never had the opportunity to see that for myself. As hard as it was for me and the rest of his grandchildren to know that he had no idea who we were, I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for my mother and her siblings knowing that their own father did not know who they were. I cannot even comprehend what that must have felt like. In his dying days, Alzheimer’s made him forget how to eat and swallow so it was a slow painful death that makes me sick just thinking about it. I do not wish a disease like this upon anybody, it was painful for the entire family and I am still very saddened that my grandfather had to leave the world that way.

My father has dementia. Dealing with my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s was tough, but I can honestly say dealing with my father’s dementia has been ten times harder. Growing up, my dad was my best friend. We were joined at the hip and he knew everything about me. When I was in middle school, however, he was diagnosed with dementia and our entire relationship changed. My parents also got a divorce so I wouldn’t see him as much and this just added to the problem. He became extremely hard to talk to because he would just forget what I said five minutes after I said it, and he would always repeat himself. This really damaged our relationship because I felt like I could never talk to him and I feel that way to this day. If I were to ask him to name five of my best friends I know he wouldn’t be able to do it. It’s hard to see the dad that was always there for me suddenly turn into this different person that I cannot relate to whatsoever. This has been a struggle for the entire family because everyone worries about him and no one knows exactly how to fix the problem. My life ten years ago was completely different than my life now and I have had to learn to deal with no longer having a relationship with my father. I do not think anything will ever change in that aspect and it is not necessarily his fault, I blame the disease. My father’s dementia has been a continuous struggle that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Alzheimer’s and dementia has affected me and my family for the majority of my life. It has been a constant struggle but there is only so much one can do in these types of situations. All I can really do is pray for the best. If there is one thing I have learned through all of this it is to not take a day for granted. You also cannot take anyone for granted because you never know what can happen in the future and anyone, including myself, could be diagnosed with these diseases. I have learned to accept my dad the way he is and just deal with the pain of not being close to him anymore. I really just need to take it day by day and pray that everything works out in the end.