On March 31, 2014, two young men suddenly appeared in a dark alley in Pittsburgh. Their subsequent encounter with my partner, Allen, changed our lives forever. It turns out Pittsburgh is a pretty good place to have a massive heart attack. But for these two strangers, Allen would undoubtedly have died that night.
It has been 13 months since my fall, and I am just NOW starting physical therapy for my injuries and occupational therapy for my cognitive issues. I feel like I am late to the party, that I should have been here months ago. Late is better than never, but I have never been one to be fashionably late.
Every single thing we do, whether physical or mental, takes a toll on our brain. The more we use it, the more it needs to rest. If we go out to a crowded restaurant with a lot of noise and stimulation, we may simply get overloaded and need to go home and rest. Even reading or watching tv causes our brains to fatigue.
And so, we need to push back with a battering ram against the stereotype that Alzheimer's is merely the horrid, inevitable final stage. While the end stage is devastating, the beginning and middle stages become a lonely, painful journey, the long kiss goodbye, which often begins 15 to 20 years before diagnosis. It robs one of self. It infantilizes. Alzheimer's is not your grandfather's disease. It could be your story some day.