Today the editor of my forthcoming book, Paul Whitlatch of Hachette Books, sent me a link to a recent New York Times article on a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 4 years ago. The author, N.R. Kleinfeld–a magnificent writer, by the way–says this about Geri’s Taylor’s life now, i.e., before the disease has done excessive injury to her brain:
“Right now, she remained energized, in control of her life, the silent attack on her brain not yet in full force. But what about next week? Next month? Next year? The disease would be there then. And the year after. And forever. It has no easy parts. It nicks away at you, its progress messy and unpredictable.”
I usually take this kind of article in my stride, but today I became really depressed and despondent while reading it. While Geri Taylor is, indeed, a remarkable woman–mostly upbeat, active in a dementia support community, and otherwise strongly socially engaged, Kleinfeld’s description of symptoms that I have in common with her as well as symptoms that still await me made my usual “go” drain away and I really just wanted to go sit on the couch and stare at the shadows on the wall. I did not, of course. Instead, Peter invited me on a lovely outing on the bus to get coffee downtown. I told him of my deflation and how I felt while reading: “If dementia is already such hard work for me every hour of the day while I am not even very far along in the process, I don’t know how long I could carry on with relatively good cheer. I can quite imagine that a few years of this–of course a “this” that gets worse all the time–could make me ready to call it quits.” I assured him I was fine for now, but the future did loom today rather than just be there as a space still filled with possibilities.
With a lopsided grin, I added that the fact that the New York Times published such a lengthy article about dementia must bode well for my book when it comes out in June 2016!
Here is the article. It is very long–and may have a depressive effect on you too–but if you know someone with dementia, you need this information. If I can read it, so can you! Let me know what you think. Geri Taylor’s dementia.