Mike’s last stroke in May of this year was very scary. I had never seen anything like it before. But now, looking back, I can see the stroke was the straw that broke the camel’s back. From this moment on Mike did everything he could to discern what was going on with him. He knew that all of his symptoms did not have anything to do with the stroke.
Just for a little background at this point I will mention that I had gone through a very severe heart event with my husband at the time several years ago. He lingered in a coma and eventually came out of that with severe head injuries. His attack was something I had never seen or been part of in my whole life. I really never wanted to go through something like that again. And yet it seemed as though that is what I was seeing with Mike.
Much to my surprise, Mike managed to once again come out of that stroke in good shape. He talked at length with the neurologist about his memory and the “fog” that he felt was covering his thought process. The neurologist didn’t really comment on too much at that time, rather commenting on the stroke only. I concentrated on the stroke as well. It was difficult for me to think about anything other than his stroke and how he was feeling at the time.
Mike was concentrating on other things, however. His background in HR was helping him focus on what he knew had to be done. Mike knew he could not go any longer without FMLA papers being signed. His concern was getting the FMLA papers signed so that he had job protection. Once he had those papers in hand he felt much better. He didn’t have to worry about job stability because he had added protection.
I’m not sure if I can describe the feeling that goes into the prospect of losing your job because of health. We had both lost a lot of money during the recession of 2008 and we frankly needed his income. He also had alimony to take care of with his income as well. There was a lot riding on his job. The notion that he could lose that job out of no fault of his own was frightening.
The stress Mike had been wearing the last days of being at work dissolved the moment he got home from work. The change was almost immediate. I could see the stress melting off of him. It was dramatic. It made my heart sing. I was very relieved.
I did everything I could to make him more comfortable. If he couldn’t remember what he was talking about? I finished the question and answered it for him. If he couldn’t come up with a word? I came up with the word and told him “Not to worry, I forget those things all the time.” But, frankly, it didn’t happen all that much. There were dates that didn’t immediately come to mind, maybe a name or two, but it wasn’t anything that I had experienced with other people who had Alzheimer’s. I would laugh and say, “Personally, I’m glad I’m at the age I don’t remember everything…there’s plenty I don’t want to remember!”
Mike did not like me making these comments at all. I’m sure it did diminish what he was dealing with. I thought I was helping and I wasn’t.
We had a very serious talk before going to Dr. Murman’s office. I was not to answer any of the questions for Mike unless I was specifically asked. I had to stop telling Mike it didn’t make any difference if he didn’t remember a name or a date. I had to stop trying to help him. And most especially I had to sit still and watch him fail at the doctor’s office.
The exam itself took at least two hours, maybe more. Dr. Murman spent a long time talking to Mike about what he had been experiencing. I sat still and really didn’t even look at Mike at all. I concentrated on Dr. Murman. Mike was a man on fire. He was bound and determined he was going to explain everything he had been going through. Even if something sounded odd he didn’t care. He wanted to talk about all of it. Dr. Murman would ask a question and Mike would talk and talk and talk.
Mike is a natural talker. It kind of drives me crazy when I have things to do and I want some quiet. I don’t think he can turn it off. Also, he never really stops talking while watching TV or reading a book either. He comments on everything. He asks questions about everything. Even as the plot is being revealed and he’s talking right through it he doesn’t stop. He will merely back up and watch it all over again. If at any point he feels like he isn’t going to be able to get everything out that he wants talked about he speeds up. He’s a fast talker. He’s an extravert. He’s a Type A personality. However you want to cloak it, during the appointment with Dr. Murman he was “on”.
Now that I have talked about what lead us to Mike diagnosis I am going to be spending more time talking about living with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s.