“And suddenly in the spur of the moment ,it all came back to her.Bridget, a retired math teacher , husband no more , two kids she wishes she would see more often….. She sits in a wheelchair in a small dimly lit,dingy room. She looks at her old wrinkly hands and wonders when she had gotten so old.Her eyes are fixed on door waiting for the knob to turn , she waits for your kids to turn up,maybe before she forgets everything again.She feel desolate and yearns for love and all she can manage to croak with her weak set of lungs is
Alzheimer’s is like a flesh eating monster,it eats away at your
brain slowly, one neuron at a time, dissolving your thoughts,personality and identity before you know it’s even there.At first it’s hard to tell whether forgetting where you left the keys is just “old age” or something more ominous.But later,you search for parts of yourself that the monster has spared.
“She stood by the window her eyes fixed on the little kids playing outside.She sat like that most of the day,it gave her a hint of what normalcy looks like amidst her confusing life.Occasionally people would come to meet her.It made her happy but embarrassed at the same time because they kept asking her questions she couldn’t answer.”What is you name?” “Do you know where you are?”and the worst one”Do you remember me?”.
It hurts doesn’t it? To think that one day your mum or your dad could forget you.That when you place their breakfast in front of them one morning,they look at your face apologetically and try to place who you are.That you are unknown to them,after all these years you don’t exist in their memory.
When I proposed these feeling of mine to my friend in class one day she told me something that i would never forget.She turned around,a distressed look on her face,looked me in the eye,and said firmly”But it’s not ABOUT YOU”.
That hit hard.
Alzheimer’s is a scary disease for those watching a loved one succumb to it, but imagine the souls of the suffering patient, how frightening it must feel.How scary it must be to not know what is happening to them and at times lose the very essence of who they are.Their brains are destroyed by a an unstoppable disease; connections are lost. And in the process of losing their minds, they lose themselves.Identity is everything and once that is stripped off of you are no different from a helpless,crying baby.And that is how a patient feels.They feel afraid and lost but cannot express their feeling because they don’t have a voice.
Alzheimer’s can affect anyone,the creative holistic thinkers,the intellectuals,the religious.The once independent individuals fall prey to this debilitating disease.That’s where we come in,we hold their hand and guide them,show them love,show them we care.Because no matter who the person was before the disease hit them,they are vulnerable now and they need support.
We have become so advanced in all the fields of medicine.Be it in the treatment of a stroke or a heart attack or be it how researchers leave no stone unturned in studies for a cure for Alzheimer’s.But I think what we need to understand is that there is a slight difference in treating any other medical condition and a neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer’s. The difference lies in the fact that Alzheimer’s is an incurable condition,so we must look at other ways to combat it like keeping our minds alert and caring for people who already suffer from it. Perhaps one day a cure will be found, but until then, it is up to us to be as humane as possible to those who are trapped by this disease.
“Please don’t forget me,
just because of how my mind works,
I still feel you with my heart,
my heart will remember “