Demi-Personality

When two or more personalities exist in a single person, it’s called ‘multiple personality disorder’.  Generally, multiple personality disorder is triggered by childhood trauma, but sometimes it has purely organic causes.  Psychology admits to understanding very little about this area.  Even Alzheimer’s disease is listed as one of the causes.

In fact, AD produces just the opposite of multiple personalities.  Rather than calling up an additional personality, Alzheimer’s disease strangles the current one, causing it to wither, to shrivel up.  What’s left is a “demi-personality”.  Though here in body, the one you knew becomes a missing person.

Very much of Barbara remains familiar.  I still love the sound of her voice.  Her mere scent is still my favorite perfume.  I catch glimpses of the fiery, funny, captivating creature who once ferried children and grandchildren from spot to spot, who marshaled troops of volunteers to pull off church functions, who hosted hundreds of gatherings in our home, who helped hurting friends through the healing process.  And so much more.  I catch glimpses of this awesome being.

I think back on our adventures in the last three decades.  From the Grand Canyon to the grandchildren,  through times of terror and triumph, Barb saw only the good in people and found a way for them to see it too.  One week she may run construction crews as they remodel our house and the next week help new foster babies get to their new homes.

Today Barb is a missing person.  No search party could find her.  Posters with her picture would never bring her home.  Alzheimer’s disease slithered into her head and makes deadly strikes at her brain, killing off her personality bit by bit.  There is no anti-venom.  There’s only waiting.  And keeping her safe.  –lg

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The Shadow of Your Smile

The Shadow of Your Smile

The shadow of your smile
When you are gone
Will color all my dreams
And light the dawn
Look into my eyes, my love, and see
All the lovely things you are to me
A wistful little star
Was far too high
A tear drop kissed your lips and so did I
Now when I remember spring
All the joy that love can bring
I will be remembering
The shadow of your smile
Now when I remember spring
All the love that joy can bring
I will be remembering
The shadow of your smile…


Infidelity

I’m glad the affair is over.  I admit it.  I come clean.  I was unfaithful.  I’m past it now and my marriage is back on safe grounds.  Barbara will never know about the affair and wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain it.  Oblivious of the danger, she’d just forget about the whole thing.  But I won’t forget.

It wasn’t a mere dalliance.  I fell hopelessly in love.  In our 30 years, Barb had never had any competition for my commitment to her.  Then I met this beautiful iMac computer.

From our first meeting, we both lit up when we came face to face.  I still see those alluring curves,  still feel those eager responses to my touch.  With every caress, something clicked.  It was awkward at first, but then we got to know each other’s moves.  We went on safari from one adventure to another.  When we were apart, all I thought about was getting back together.  

We began to spend more and more time together, often well into the night.  She had the strength of a lion.  Exhausted, I would withdraw and go for a walk in the dark.  Thirty minutes later I returned to my front door.  I entered quietly so the dog wouldn’t wake and start barking.  After a shower, I slipped into bed beside Barb and immediately plunged into darkness.

Weeks went by.  I started to neglect Barbara and it took its toll on me.  Guilt set in.  Patience disappeared.  I got mad at the drop of a hat.  This could not go on.  I would have to make a decision.  The affair had to end.  

It was a Sunday morning.  I sat down in front of the iMac for the last time.  One by one I removed all evidence that we had once been together.  Finally, I unplugged it and carefully packed it in the original box.  At the Apple Store I lied.  I told them we just weren’t compatible.  The young man behind the counter gave me a full refund.  He may have seen the tears in my eyes.

I have my old life back.  Barbara deserves and gets my full attention again.  I’ve returned to my valium pills and to Netflix.  Every few days I order something from Amazon … a book for the Kindle, some socks, a new frying pan, another box of bandages for my ailing foot.  

I’m glad the affair is over.  I admit it.  I come clean.  I was unfaithful.  I’m past it now and my marriage is back on safe grounds.  

–lg


Alzheimer’s and Bicycling

I bought Barbara a 3-wheel  bike a couple of years ago so we could once again tour the neighborhood together.  On any day I can say, “Let’s take a bike ride” and she’s ready to go. 

HomeCyclists Equipment News Resources Stories  July 20th, 2008

The challenges of Alzheimer’s and bicycling
When we think of cycling and limitations, we often consider the physical limitations of riders. We rarely consider conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

It is widely known that Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) affects the memory of those afflicted, but it is not commonly known that as AD progresses, functions of balance and movement can be affected. These present an interesting challenge for those wishing to cycle in the midst of AD.

As with most issues of balance, we look to the recumbent tricycle as the logical solution. Recumbent tricycles (and quadcycles) remove the dependency on rider balance that bicycles require. AD patients suffering from physical imbalance certainly can benefit from a trike, but there’s a unique issue that comes into play.

AD sufferers might not remember how to ride a bike. The old adage that “once you learn, you never forget” does not apply here. Once seated upon a bike or trike, a person with AD might find that they no longer understand the basic mechanics of cycling. While it might be easy enough to quickly retrain them on pedaling, the complexities of shifting are not so easily retained.

There are three ways to address this. First, use a trike that uses a single gear with a freewheel. There’s no shifting involved. Second, invest in an automatic transmission system. Shifting will happen without requiring operator intervention. Third (and likely easiest), shift into a moderate gear combination such as the middle ring at the front and the middle cog in the rear, and then tape the shifters into place so that they can’t be adjusted.

That third option sounds simplistic, but it is an actual solution used by a man for his wife with AD. Until my conversation with him, I had not really considered the impact of AD on bicycling.

A diagnosis of AD does not mean that a support family should take away a bike, replace it with a trike, and seize up the shifters. Take things one step at a time as the disease progresses, and make changes only as the symptoms of progression demand them.

If you find yourself at that point and are considering a move to a trike, try to avoid configurations that will be wholly alien to the rider. Tadpole trikes in particular will be sufficiently unfamiliar as to introduce further confusion. Look instead to delta trikes with over seat steering, perhaps along the lines of a chopper bar. If necessary, a trike could be modified for a coaster brake if the rider is unable to remember to use the available brake levers.

The primary requirement will always be patience. If you’re working with a patient or loved one with Alzheimer’s, take the time to determine whether or not they want to continue riding. Take the time to determine what levels of cycling they can still process. And take the time to find a solution that fits them best. The point of putting an Alzheimer’s sufferer to pedals is to enhance their quality of life, not to frustrate them further.

It may very well be that, in time, they will no longer remember the fun they had getting out for a few rides. But while they can still ride, they’ll at least experience joy those days.