The Long Goodbye

They haven’t used the “A” word yet, but….

Looking back, I should have seen it coming. The inability to put things back where they belonged. Forgetting what I just said to him. Repeating himself. But he’d always been a little ADD, a little forgetful, so I blew it all off. My husband Bill was a lot like the rest of his family–brilliant, intellectual, and a little eccentric.

Then I returned from a mission trip to Guatemala, and after being up since 3:00 a.m. was exhausted upon my return to DFW Airport in early afternoon. I texted him from the runway–no response. I called him and left a message from customs, figuring he was en route and could just pull up to the curb rather than pay to park. No response. So I waited, assuring my travel companions he’d be here and I’d get home just fine.

About 45 minutes after the rest of my group left, he appeared, smiling, thinking nothing was wrong. I was annoyed but happy to finally be in the car on the way home. He’d forgotten his phone (a frequent occurrence) and didn’t get my messages. Once in the car I promptly fell asleep before we’d left the airport on our way back to Denton.

When I awoke, I was stunned to be in a congested intersection near the Ikea store in Frisco, a good 26 miles from Denton and definitely not on the route home.

“Why are we here?” I asked. He couldn’t answer. In his defense, there is a lot of construction around DFW Airport’s north entrance, but still—I know he’s a man, but he usually asks directions. He had no clue how we’d gotten there, and wasn’t sure how to get home. Believe me when I say things were tense.

Not long after that he had a routine physical, and I reminded him to tell the doctor about his memory issues. Other things had happened–bills weren’t paid, doors were left unlocked, things went missing around the house. He’s always handled the finances, I’m the only one working right now, and teaching is more than a full time job.

He came home from the doctor’s office with a prescription for an anti-depressant. I immediately emailed her and asked if he’d told her about getting lost on the way home from the airport. He hadn’t–because he couldn’t remember it. That’s when we knew we had a problem, and she referred me to UT Southwestern Medical School Memory Clinic, which takes months to get an appointment.

Future blog posts will discuss the odyssey we’re going through, but know that right now we have a non-specific diagnosis of “early-onset dementia.” I know in my heart it’s Alzheimer’s Disease, but they can’t say for sure. All the signs are there. And I’m having to come to grips with the fact that my life has just radically changed. And will continue to change. Every day is a 36-Hour Day, already.

Originally posted 10/13/12 at The View From Little D.

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