We knew coming in… there would be work to do. Hey, that’s our gig.
We had a couple firm ideas what our summer would look like. Catherine has been wishing us back since our brief visit last year. She had plenty of projects to choose from.
However, soon after we arrived it was a someone who needed attention.
Darn, so much for “firm ideas”, we missed the mark by about a hundred yards!
An unexpected challenge came up, and we accepted: assist Maribel.
Maribel is a friend, neighbor and tenant. Among many, many things, she needs assistance participating in these last few dredges of divorce. Let me tell, or remind you, we are now going on the 2nd year of this divorce, while her Alzheimer’s continues to kill her brain cells.
This Week, dear Readers…
I would like to re-post my blog from July last year. This summer, these next chapters, will likely branch from this beginning:
We are back in Chicagoland, landing at Lady Catherine’s Castle Black.
It’s said that “nothing changes around here…everything stays much the same.” That is pretty true, but we feel the hole that Carlos isn’t around. Last year we were here so long to accommodate his aging-self, his absence is noticeable. Luckily we had a chance to take care of this little girl for a few days:
Nothing like getting our “dog fix” while traveling. Puppy kisses always welcomed here!
But Change is Inevitable
There is a certain level of comfort returning to “same ole, same ole.” But the reality is, everything changes. The one thing you can count on is change. This week I’d like to share the story of Maribel.
Maribel is living with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. How’s that for a slap-in-the-face change!? She is 53 years old.
At the height of her career she was a Global Human Resource Management professional. Multilingual, strong-willed, she travelled everywhere and was a valuable asset to her company. Two years ago her husband’s employer moved them to Illinois. She found it difficult to find a job in the industry she mastered. Soon after, her husband of 20+ years moved out, eventually asking for a divorce. He had seen little signs that Maribel was different, and was aware of the familial history of this disease.
People Need People
Maribel is neighbor and tenant. And though Catherine can be abrasive, a know-it-all, and a self-proclaimed buttinsky, I’ve seen her cover delinquent water bills for a struggling neighbor. I’ve seen her spend long days at business conventions then gather up the leftover food, make sandwiches, bag ’em, and in the late hours, walk the streets of San Francisco to pass the meals to less fortunate. I’ve called her crazy.
She has profound compassion for Maribel. She attends doctor appointments, meets attorneys, completes disability paperwork, talks with insurance companies, arrange driving tests, eye appointments, etc. To confirm all basis are covered, she arranged for a 2nd professional opinion. I was able to attend that appointment. I’m fascinated by the brain, and how it works. Or, maybe I should say, how it doesn’t work.
The practitioner listed 5 random words: VELVET, DAISY, FACE, RED and CHURCH. Then asked “us” to retain them. She would ask in 5 minutes if “we” could recall these words. It’s more difficult than you think! Let’s see how you do – I’ll ask you to recall them at the end of this post.
A few other tests were: counting backwards by sevens from 100, drawing a clock and then the arms at a specified time, drawing a 3D cube, and she had to identify pictures such as these: How would you do?
Maribel knew how these items were used, but came up blank for the word. Heck, I couldn’t come up with number 3!
Three hours later we were able to conclude we are doing everything conventional to help Maribel. Did you know there are only two medications (FDA approved) available to Alzheimer’s patients? They don’t cure it, and don’t stop it from progressing. The medicines are used to help lessen symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion, and only for a limited time.
Maribel’s one wish is that she can participate in clinical trial(s). Anything she can do to help future generations would help her accept the sentence she’s been delivered.
Reminder to all: Seize the Moment
You don’t know what cards you’ll be dealt. Change is inevitable. I may welcome this reminder, but I despise the cost. If you’ve made it this far – thank you. I have only two more things:
- what were the words I asked you to recall? and;
- what can you do this week to show gratitude for the “good cards” you have been dealt?