By Mike Donohue
I needed my wife to talk so the history wouldn’t take all afternoon as I stammered and looked for words. I needed her to talk so nothing would be overlooked. I needed her to talk so I could take the time to listen to the conversation and have the time to understand it.
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THE SYNERGY OF SHOCK STRIKES AGAIN!
With my form of the disease I have sufficient cognition to understand what was being said. But I need time to hear it, digest it, and translate the words into information.
Once I could understand it all as it was said. This is no longer instantaneous like that with me. I suffer a time lag while I go through the process of explaining to my brain what the words were that I heard. My brain then tells me what all of the words of a segment of communication mean.
My cognition is still pretty good. I not only knew I was in this process, I also knew how isolated from reality I had become letting my isolation go on. Having no other choice I nonetheless let it go on.
The shock term “The Long Goodbye” is one of many that a speaker can use to capture the attention of the listener. Unfortunately it comes at a price.
It allows the listener in response to the shocking news to see the object of the discussion, the person afflicted with dementia, in the worst possible light.
Too often all of us dealing with this disease, afflicted, affected, more distant, and those not involved, accept the use of descriptive shock words to get the attention and favorable response from the listener. The expediency of it is excused by using shock the byproduct of which allows the formation of stereotypes about the disease. That’s ok if there is good purpose in it.
This is such a mistake because it de-humanizes us so.
With this disease, with the cognitive attributes that remain, I run at two speeds. Abject, sad and depressed by what has happened to me because of the limitations I deal with every hour of every day. The other speed is that of being engaged. I have the disease and rather than sitting idly by feeling sorry for myself I am committed to doing something useful with my disease.
Writing is a big part of doing this.
Thank you Monica Heltemes for your insight and sensitivity of your article “The Long Goodbye.”
Editor Note: The above was originally entered by Mike as a comment under Monica's article.
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Original content Mike Donohue, the Alzheimer's Reading Room