In January, 2013, two things happened which changed the course of my life. I lost my sight and my wife began to lose her mind.
I’d already lost vision in one eye when, one day, my other eye clouded over. For the second time, a rare blood clot condition had fried my remaining healthy optic nerve. The same week, my wife had a seizure which resulted in total amnesia. Fortunately, within twenty four hours, her memory came back, but her mental ability to reason, remember, and connect with reality began to deteriorate.
Sudden blindness left me disoriented and depressed. It was months before I was able to start on the path towards re-inventing my life with the help of folks from California’s rehabilitative services program. While riding the emotional rollercoaster of adapting to my new world, my wife was also changing.
More and more, she was showing the signs of dementia, repeating questions many times and forgetting recent events. Over time, the dementia symptoms became more obvious. Her ability to plan and organize disappeared. Her creative activities got simpler. Where she once enjoyed abstract painting, she now spends hours with coloring books, her mind unable to deal with mixing paint colors.
She has become a child who loves life, no longer distracted by adult worries or conceptions of what life should be. I deal with practicalities, grocery shopping, money matters, scheduling. We have found a new balance, becoming a unique partnership of attitudes and abilities..
Do I miss the dreams I had for our life? All the time. I miss the adventures we had and the ones I’d hoped to share. I miss saying, “let’s go!” jumping in the car and taking off to nowhere. But, as the popular saying goes, “it is what it is.” The work now is making the most of the life we still have.
That’s a daily challenge, one I’m going to explore in writing this journal. I invite you to join us as my wife and I walk together, blind and demented, down the road of life.
Here are links to existing dementia diary entries-