“Yes, Mrs. De Ronde, your husband has early to mid stage dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.”
I heard the words. They did not register or perhaps they did at a depth not yet plumbed. My stomach moved and there was fuzziness in my brain. I saw a long, dark, dense, never ending tunnel. There was a total absence of light. My heart lost a beat or two then started again.
It was perhaps two years previous that I had begun to suspect that something was not quite right. Sure, my Bert was older than me. It was a subject for teasing throughout our marriage. Comments like ‘robbing the cradle’ would come up now and then always with a laugh. We often observed that though younger I would perhaps die first as Bert had the better genes. Then at his 80th birthday party I noticed that he did not remember our friends’ names and he was asking me to remind him who some of them were. If they were people we did not see from one year to another it would not have made an impact, but these were close friends.
I passed it off as that old age thing creeping up on us and the usual forgetfulness that comes with it, that there was no reason to worry. He was entitled to be a little forgetful. Heck, I also suffered from that forgetfulness syndrome too. I had walked into the bedroom from the kitchen and forgotten why I went there in the first place.
Then nine months prior to downsizing, as we were preparing our home for sale, I asked Bert to take some table linens downstairs to the laundry room. He was gone for about five minutes then he came back to me and asked me where he should put the tablecloths. I said: “In the laundry room”. I watched as he walked out of the kitchen, through the dining room and to the living room. He stopped, looked around, then went along the passage to the main bathroom, looked in then went to our bedroom. He came back out, went into one guest room and as he turned to retrace his steps, he saw the stairs, nodded and went down them to the laundry.
I knew I had to get him to the doctor. I had to get him assessed. Now here we were and I was being told the result of the various assessments. The words I just heard were not the words anyone wants to hear yet they were not unexpected.
I looked down that tunnel and realized that if there was to be any light, I would have to create it myself. I also knew I needed help.
The Meander: Here was a new journey. Had all that had gone before in my life in preparation for this?