Wednesday, January 14, 2015


About this Blog:    

My name is Jane and my husband of 34 years was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s about a year and a half ago.  (Of course, his symptoms began much earlier.)  This blog is a tale of our lives after “Al” (the name I’ve given Joe’s disease) moved in.

 I clearly didn’t make a living as a writer. In fact, I am dyslexic, which makes writing an interesting challenge.  My career was in business management.  That fed my purse, but to feed my soul I was an abstract artist, designer, and an actor and director in Community Theater.  I can find humor in most things.  To me, life is a comedy and is better set to music than tears.  But, I also know that sometimes life can be a dark comedy.  Someone said to me once, “Don’t you ever take anything seriously?” The answer, “Not if I can help it.”

I titled this first entry “The Uninvited Guest”, but my blog will really be “The Adventures of Joe and Al and Jane”.

The Uninvited Guest, January 13, 2015
When did he arrive?  We aren’t sure.  It started seven or eight years ago with little things, you know, that ding on the golf cart that we didn’t seem to know how had gotten there.  Or, the spill on the carpet that wasn’t there yesterday.  How did the garage door open itself and stay open all night?  What would cause my husband to out of the blue say something outrageous to the neighbor?    (I frequently coached him on improving his interpersonal skills.) And then, there was the screwed up checkbook that had once been managed with the precision of a drill sergeant.  

Things like this happened over time, slowly and mysteriously.  And, there was the kicker last year--Why would anyone get up at 1:30 in the morning and walk up and down the sidewalk looking for the newspaper?   “Houston, we have a problem."

Things had been good.  My husband (Joe) and I had raised kids and retired from successful careers. We had settled into well-deserved “bonus time”, just what we had planned and talked about on those precious Friday nights after work.  We had conquered the world, we had made it.  Well, that’s what it was like before “Al” showed up.

At first, Al would only stay for a few minutes, just long enough to disrupt and cause trouble like a high maintenance teenager. And then, he would be gone.  I would breathe a sigh of relief (no need for panic).  But as the months went on Al started joining us for social events and popping up at odd hours.  The longer Al stayed, the more confused Joe became. 

 Al made it hard for Joe to concentrate or find the words to finish a thought. To me, Joe had always been “the smartest guy in the room”, but with Al around, he was slowly becoming disconnected and quiet. 

Friends began the wonder what was happening.  I would jokingly say something like, “Well, he runs out of words by about 4:30”.  The truth, Al was now clearly getting in the way.

Not knowing how to get rid of Al we sought help.  We saw specialists.  They ran tests and asked lots of questions and eventually gave us the news that Al would be staying, invited or not.  We would not be able to ignore him.  

Let’s be clear about this, I love my husband, but Al, not so much.  Apparently, no matter how many things we try or how many websites we browse, there are no magic answers; we will still have an Al problem.

They said we will just have to live with Al, adapt.   We can’t lock the doors and move to another zip code (although we tried that). He will just catch up to us carrying a bigger suitcase. 

So we will be living with Al.  He reminds me of the guy in the TV commercial, you know, Mayhem.  They may be related.  Chaos, disorder, bedlam.  Yep, Al and Mayhem have got to be brothers. Just when we think things have leveled out, we might be back in control, things are working, Al tangles the garden hose, loosens the lug nuts so to speak, and shows us who is really in charge.  

Right now, today, Joe is winning.  He has Al tied up in the garage next to the Subaru and the extra bottled water.  We both know Al will escape and be mixing up Joe’s medications, screwing up the remote control, promoting Joe to forget what we talked about this morning and causing me to mumble. But for right now….we are okay.

Today, while we were at the gym I caught Joe’s eye.  He was across the room trying hard to work out and be normal and I smiled and stuck my tongue out at him.  He stuck his tongue out right back at me and I laughed and thought, that’s my Joe, he is still in there.

Sigh!  I think tonight we’ll have pudding for dessert.  Tomorrow we’ll pick oranges.