Isn’t Having Dementia Enough?

shad_mom    shad_lynn

The above pictures are (1) of my son Shad with Mom back in the 80’s. (2) Shad and myself, also in the 80’s.

It’s been an eventful few weeks at my house. My son, Shad visited for the first time in a very long time. He hasn’t seen my Mom, literally in years with her living in CA and he in NC. I also have not seen him for a long time, so it was a very welcomed visit. Life responsibilities just seem to take over our daily routines and before you know it, years have gone by. Not sure why that happens more these days than in years past, but my guess is that today’s world is more complex and complicated. There’s just more to do in our daily routines which leaves little time for what is really important.

With the anticipation and preparation leading up to his visit this past weekend, I had also received a call from Mom’s primary doctor about  recent blood work performed. Apparently, her blood counts were very low and she is drastically anemic. Her red blood cells are “big”. I replied, you mean they are high, but he said no, they are big. He informed me that he would do a folate test which could be the problem, but he doubted that it was the problem. As predicted, the folate test came back normal and he informed me that Mom would need to see a hematologist. He gave me a name of one in our group and I made the appointment.

After seeing him, I was given the same information as her primary doctor gave me, but now he is advising a bone marrow test. I wasn’t at all sure that was a good idea, given her age and mental state but he said that if I didn’t follow through, that I had better get her “do not rescesitate” docs in order. With that, of course, I made the appointment. My son was in for this appointment but she was unable to tolerate taking the test and the doctor decided not to force her, again with her age and mental capacity. We were told that another extensive blood test would be performed to see if a marker could be seen so that he could identify and treat her….otherwise, she will probably need blood transfusions. The bad part of transfusions is that, they will only do them in a hospital and with her weak immune system, it’s almost sure she will get some bacteria while admitted…so it is a lose-lose situation. What to do?

He told me that we are probably looking at Supportive Care, meaning hospice. I can’t help but think that we’ve come all this way, and to lose her to some sort of Leukemia is just wrong. Her sister Lillian succumbed to Leukemia almost 40 years ago but I don’t think it was the same type. Her father was a bleeder, which also leads me to believe that there is some genetic blood disorder prevalent to the Sarter bloodline which can appear at any age. Of course, I am not sure, but it is what I am feeling from what I am seeing at this point in time.

Makes me wonder what kind of a cruel joke is being played on her. Isn’t having dementia enough for her to handle, isn’t having OCD her whole life a heavy enough cross to bare? Will she have to wait until her next time around to have a good life? I wonder. 

Just can’t see the silk lining in this situation. I can’t help but thinking..isn’t having dementia enough in a person’s golden years?


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Dementia vs. Alzheimer’s Disease


Last week at work, I was having an interesting conversation with a co-worker / friend about the differences between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We both were having trouble coming up with a definition. The 2 terms are used next to each other all the time and many of us really don’t know the difference between them.

When my mother was diagnosed with dementia after her brain scan, I was never told what type of dementia that she had. I still don’t know. I’ve asked the doctor a few times but he never really gives me a breakdown of her dementia diagnosis. The word Alzheimer’s was never ever brought up in conversation so I can only assume that she is not suffering from that end of it. Since her father also had dementia and she seems to be following in his footsteps and appears to be a textbook case of everything that I’ve ever read, we consider her having dementia.

Yesterday, I was having a haircut with a who I’ve gone to for almost 30 years. I have followed her from salon to salon because she is about the only person in the world who knows every cowlick on my head and every twist in my fine hair… she knows almost every little thing about me after all of our appointments over the years not to mention all the conversations that we’ve had about our families and life in general. She’s very informative and seems to know a lot about a lot of stuff! I guess that’s only natural when your occupation revolves around conversation with your customers for many years plus the best haircut in town!

Sitting in her chair, we were going through our usual what’s new conversation when she had asked about my mother.That brought to mind my talk with my co-worker, so I mentioned that to her.

Just what is the difference between Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

 Why is it such a dilemma when trying to nail down an exact definition? Good question, I thought to myself. With that, she says…I was just talking to one of my customers the other day about that, who just happens to be a nurse. She gave me a very simple and easy way to tell the difference.

She said: Dementia is when you can’t find your keys, for example. You misplaced or hid them and can’t find them. Alzheimer’s is when you don’t know what a key is. That was about the best analogy on the subject that I’ve ever heard. That made it crystal clear about the differences between Demenia vs. Alzheimer’s disease.

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