Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Blank White Door

He woke up early in the morning just in time to shower and have a bit of breakfast before the wife and he had to head out for the dreaded Doctors appointment she had made for him, the drive was about a half an hour away so he had time to ramble on about years gone by with her while she glanced his way once in a while and nodded in an attempt to let him know she was listening, he was thinking this appointment is useless all they are going to do is the same as they did last time, they will tell him three words and throw a folded piece of paper onto the floor and ask him to pick it up, at the end of the visit they are going to sit and stare blankly as he tries to remember the words, he really doesn’t want to go through any more of these tests because they have already told him he was demented which he sees as an insult, the wife argues that this is not what they told him they said that he has dementia, same difference in his mind he tell her and he would rather they just go on and call it Old Timers, the wife laughs and says it’s Alzheimer’s and we can call it that if you want to.

Sitting in the waiting room he feels everyone is looking and talking about him, this goes on for what seems like hours before the nurse finally opens the door and calls a name, the wife stands up and holds out her hand, he just stares and asks where are we going? The nurse just called you Hun so come on let’s go. Sitting in the room and waiting for the Doctor to come in took as long as the wait outside, it seemed like forever, the wife stood up and said she had to go to the restroom and told him she would be right back, he replied OK and told her to not take too long, she laughed and replied I won’t and you don’t go anywhere OK, he smiled as the door closed and he just sat there staring at that blank white door.

There was a knock and in comes a young man saying Hello Sir are you about ready for lunch? Lunch he thinks, I didn’t know they were serving lunch he tells the young man and asks how long before the Doctor comes in, now Sir you get lunch at this same time everyday and if you need to see the Doctor you need to let the nurse know, let the nurse know? Hell that’s why I am here to see the Doctor and I don’t like this game you are playing, I want my wife why is it taking her so long to get back, the young man tells him to settle down and he would go and get the nurse, the door closes and immediately reopens with a smiling young lady in drab green scrubs coming his way, I want my wife he exclaims and she replies now Sir lets eat our lunch, what the hell are you doing serving lunch he asks and again asks for his wife, the young nurse grasps his hand and says now Sir you know lunch comes everyday at this time and your wife has been gone for several years now, you remember that don’t you? He looks around and notices that he is sitting in a wheelchair and the room now has a bed and TV in it, he looks at the ceiling and screams as the nurse closes the blank white door.

Looking around he sees pictures of people he doesn’t know and among them are pictures of his lovely young wife, she has been gone to the restroom long enough to be done, he hopes she hasn’t gotten herself turned around on her way back because he really needs her about right now, getting himself up out of the wheelchair he has a recollection of people coming in to visit, people he has never seen before calling him Dad and Uncle Somebody, the little kids hiding behind these folks trying to both look at him but not make eye contact at the same time, he makes his way over to the sink to wash his face and looking back at him in the mirror is a man who looks a whole lot like his Grandpa, this is strange he thinks and opens the door on the cabinet to look behind before looking at the mirror again to see this stranger looking back, the blank white door opens and he looks around for his wife only to see the young girl in the drab green scrubs again, it’s time for bed Sir she says and laughs as she tells him that it is also time for him to quit admiring himself in the mirror, he reluctantly lays down on the bed thinking to himself that this is just not right, the wife will be here any minute she just has to be on her way back by now, somebody go and find my wife please he yells as the white door closes again.

Light from the window is reflecting from behind and back into his face from that blank white door as he lies on the bed, the door opens and all he can see is the waistline that is covered in drab green material, Sir it’s time for your bath are you going to get up and let me do that for you today, he is curled into a fetal position and all of a sudden can’t seem to move, can’t seem to remember nor even answer the questions she continues to ask him, he feels really tired and she leans down to look into his face, Sir are you awake? Can You Hear Me? Sir, Sir.. He closes his eyes as he hears that damned white door open and close again.

The sound of an alarm goes off suddenly and he is startled to feel an arm across his chest, the bed bounces with the feel of someone getting up and he rolls over to see a clock that reads 7:05, he looks around and the room sure looks different, smaller with a lot more familiar and comfortable feeling, glancing to the other side of the room he sees a door open revealing his beautiful wife who says Good Morning Hun, you have just enough time to get a shower and a bit of breakfast before we have to leave for your Doctors appointment.

This fictional account is my first attempt at addressing a condition that hits home with a lot of people including us. Alzheimer’s strikes a large number of people each year, I have not done any research to gain numbers but wanted to get your attention with what can and sometimes does happen with this condition. Loss of memory is just a small part of this and loss of memory brings on anger and loss of time. So if you know someone with this condition try your best to spend a bit of quality time with them if possible, they may not remember fully what has happened or what is going on but giving them the comfort of knowing you are there during this time will go a long way before they can no longer remember you at all.

17 comments:

  1. So sad...one can only hope that if half of a couple gets Alzheimer, the partner will NOT get it, and be loving and supporting for the other person.

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  2. That was beautiful and totally heartbreaking at the same time. I can only imagine the frustration those having this affliction must feel. fantastic job Jimmy

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  3. Outstanding job, Jimmy! OMG...I actually thought this was a true story you were sharing with us.

    My grandfather had Alzheimers, and right now my dear friend in Florida, her mother has it. And in both cases, it's the gradual memory lose that has been so heartbreaking to watch. But it's as you shared...

    "try your best to spend a bit of quality time with them if possible, they may not remember fully what has happened or what is going on but giving them the comfort of knowing you are there during this time will go a long way before they can no longer remember you at all."

    Thank you for sharing this, my friend.

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  4. Alzheimers's is such a cruel disease and you did a beautiful job portraying it's effects.

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  5. Good Morning Joe, A loving and supporting spouse is key to making this condition a bit easier to cope with, Cindy’s Dad is this type of spouse and I have learned a lot just watching him.

    Thank You Pat, Memory loss by itself is so frustrating, the small amount I have dealt with during my stuff is minor compared to watching someone lose it slowly a bit more each day.

    Hey Ron, It’s fictional for the most part, actually a compilation of my experience with and observations of several people who are either dealing with it now and one who passed away a few months back, she was actually placed in a nursing home in another state and never realized where she was.

    Thanks Buddy I appreciate you.

    Thank You Ms. A, You are so right, Alzheimer’s is a cruel one and the frustration on the faces of those dealing with it breaks my heart.

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  6. Wow! I found you through John at Full On Forward, and I am so glad that I did! I thought this was a real account too. My Grandfather had Alzheimers and it was terrible to see him go from such a strong man, to a child-like man who couldn't even feed himself, let alone dress himself properly.
    He became obsessed with shaving himself, and my Grandmother would have to hide his razor.
    He confused my brother and myself with his siblings, and became totally confused one moment, then totally normal the next, or as normal as he could be.
    The sad thing is, is that Alzheimers is not a killer disease....he eventually died from pneumonia.
    I'm now following to see where this journey takes me.

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  7. Welcome Aboard Alice, I'm proud to have you join our little family here.

    Alzheimer's like you said is not actually a killer but it is cruel, my wife's Mom is going through it now and like you pointed out it's like they bounce back from helpless to normal at a moments notice and the confusion brings on embarassment which turns into anger, it would be nice if there was an answer but until then we have to step in and help them cope.

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  8. I saw a beautiful movie a few years ago with Julie Christie where she has Alzheimer's and her husband takes such loving care of her. In the beginning she realizes what is happening to her and it is just heart breaking...for both her and her husband. In many ways it is like the death of someone who is still alive. It is hurtful and painful and unbearable. I hope to never know this agony personally on any level but if I do I hope I can show the kind of compassion that would ease the fear and discomfort!

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  9. Jimmy, I guess you know by know I have first-hand experience with this cruel disease. You have done a beautiful job here.

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  10. Hey Susie, "it is like the death of someone who is still alive" so true what you said here, as you know we are up front and personal with it right now and I like you hope to never deal with it personally as seeing a loved one go through it makes you feel helpless, I don't want to cause that on my loved ones.

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  11. Good Morning Betty, Yes Mam I knew that you have experience here and I am so honored to have you say I did well in portraying this cruel disease.

    Thank You

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  12. Jimmy, I am so impressed. You did a beautiful job with this post. My grandfather had Alzhiemers when he died and I have several family members with it now.

    I don't know if you read but if you get a chance to read "Water for Elephants" it is an excellent book. I think you'd enjoy it.

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  13. Hey Jimmy.......you knew you would hear from eventually, didn't ya? lol

    My problem is differentiating between Alzheimer's and Dementia. I think I pretty much understand Alzheimer's. Dementia is what has me confused. They tell me with Dementia that the person pretty much lives in the past. They also tell me that my mom has Dementia. She can carry on a little bit of a conversation and know what we are talking about, then all of a sudden she tries to say something and it all comes out, I guess, gibberish. Then she will laugh, but after that she is pretty much done. But she talks about places she has been and things she has done, in a days time, but the only place she has been is in her bed or her chair. Eric & I went in the other day and she was telling us about bombs that were under the clock in her room. She is always seeing someone or something that isn't there. So, from the way they have explained Dementia to me, this sure doesn't sound like it.

    But she still does seem to know pretty much everyone. She can't see very good anymore so sometimes you have to tell her who it is, but she remembers. Every day I go in as soon as she sees me she gets a real big grin on her face and says something. I atleast know she still knows me. The day I go in and that smile isn't there will be the worse day of my life. I can't imagine my mom not knowing me!!!!!!!!

    Jimmy, maybe you or someone that reads this has had this experience and could help me understand. I will take all the advice/information I can get.

    Thank you & God Bless..........

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  14. Peg, Thank You so much, it seems we have all been touched by this condition in one form or another I remember back before it had a name “Oh he’s just senile” was a common phrase. I will look at that title.

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  15. Hey Juanita, I am so proud to see you join us my Dear Friend :^)

    I have not studied this as of yet and all of my information comes from what I have witnessed or discussed with others dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s, my understanding is that Alzheimer’s is actually a form of dementia that will eventually lead to forgetting everything and dementia changes thought orientation which includes language skills, planning, ability to care for and dress themselves.

    To me they both sound a lot alike and I can see how easy they are to confuse especially when the doctor diagnoses dementia then calls it Alzheimer’s :(

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  16. I think you portrayed this beautifully, even though it is not a beautiful disease.

    My grammie had Dementia and see mostly lived in the past, very few times was she lucided enough to know who anybody was. My uncle went to visit her in the end and she freaked cause in her mind he was just a baby. She lost memory of me about ten years before her passing. Very sad and scary.

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  17. Yes Heather, This is a very scary condition, I am glad we moved here because you can see a big change in the time we have been here, this way Cindy has a chance for quality time with her parents.

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