May 20, 2012

Am I the Most Fortunate Alzheimer's Caregiver in the World?

I have been thinking about this for some time -- Am I the Most Fortunate Alzheimer's Caregiver in the World?

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Please Note: I wrote the article below on August 12, 2010 (my birthday). Since then the blog has grown, and so have the number of people that know and love Dotty.

If I ever doubted that I am the most fortunate Alzheimer's caregiver in the World, I won't any longer. Your outpouring of love, compassion and prayers can best be describe by me as -- mind boggling.

At this time, Dotty is resting comfortably, and is getting weaker and weaker. Her pulse is steady around 36.

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I started thinking about this almost daily since May. In May, my mother was very sick. I wrote about it here on the Alzheimer's Reading Room.

Overnight, my mother could not get out of bed. She couldn't walk. We didn't have a wheelchair and I had to get her to the doctor. I was not worried that she was stroking or about any problem with her heart.

When we arrived at the doctor's office I went in and borrowed a wheelchair to get her into the office. When I wheeled her in the staff was shocked and concerned. They all knew Dotty and greeted her every time with great enthusiasm -- it really is wonderful and uplifting.

This time, Dotty was out of it and they knew it instantly.

When the doctor came in to examine Dotty I said, this could be dire. She examined Dotty, looked me right in the eye, and said, it isn't dire Bob.

It took a couple of weeks and then Dotty started coming back. Dotty, now 94 years old, is some kind of amazing machine. She has never had a major illness or operation. She rarely gets sick. This was the first time in five years -- the only exceptions the dreaded bladder infection. And we beat those.

Dotty likes to say, "I am s healthy old broad". In many respects she is.

When I wrote about Dotty's illness on this blog I received more than 100 private emails and lots of comments. Each day the emails flowed in, everyone wanted to know -- how is Dotty doing? These writers included us in their prayers. The encouragement we received was unbelievable. Just north of wonderful.

Many of our readers know Dotty because I write about her. They really got to know her best when I spoke for her in the Dotty Says articles. Somehow Dotty came back to life in weeks 6 through 18 of the Dimebon clinical trial. Not long after the clinical trial was canceled Dotty got sick. I don't think or believe there was any connection to the Dimebon.

People still email me often, they want to know how Dotty is doing. This is why I write about her from time to time.

After yesterday's little Oops with the Help article, I really came to understand how big and caring our virtual support group has come to be. I could never have envisioned what has happened here.

I appreciate your concern and worry. But please understand, I draw strength and courage from your words every day of the week. Every day. This keeps me emotionally healthy and energized.

I learn more about Alzheimer's each day from the comments and emails generated by this blog. I use this information to create a better life for both Dotty and me.

I guess you could say I am sitting in the "catbird seat".

From time to time in my life I have been around a group of veterans. War veterans. You can tell by the sound of their voices and the look on their faces that they have a special feeling and affinity for each other. I suspect that most people believe they understand. I doubt they do.

If you often wonder why people say I don't know how you do it, or they can't understand what you are going through as an Alzheimer's caregiver there is a very good reason. They can't understand and they never will. You have to accept this simple truth.

To understand Alzheimer's you have to be a veteran. A veteran of the war. To understand how we feel you have to be one of us -- a veteran or on active duty.

I learned this. Alzheimer's caregivers care about each other. They have a very special feeling and understanding of other caregivers. They are concerned and they empathize with each other in a way that is unique and hard for outsiders to understand.

I know a growing number of loving, caring Alzheimer's caregivers. They give me support each and every day.

This is why I often wonder, am I the most fortunate Alzheimer's caregiver in the World?

I am reluctant to say this, but I am coming to believe I am.

So thanks to each and everyone of you. You are an important part of my day -- every day.

I doubt that I will ever go over the edge. I know if I get close to the edge you'll pull me back.

This knowing and understanding is a very pleasant, comforting and empowering feeling that is hard to describe in words.

**"The catbird seat" is an idiomatic phrase used to describe an enviable position. Being in an advantageous position among parties.

More About the Alzheimer's Reading Room

Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,690 (now 3,800) articles with more than 70,000 (300,000) links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room