Dear Anyone Who Knows Someone Worried About Alzheimer’s,
After my headache/panic attack/discombobulated trip to the ER on Sunday, I have a more heightened awareness and concern about what I might be forgetting. I’m also increasingly sensitive to people commenting on anything that might have slipped my mind. So here’s a tip for pals of people who worry about Alzheimer’s Disease running their family:
Please, pretty please, don’t ever say, “YOU DON’T REMEMBER THAT?” Unless, of course, you want to send your friend (ie. me) into a full-blown panic attack. Oh shit, do I have it? What’s happening to me? God, I am so young!
Truth is that we are all forgetting all the time. (See accompanying graphic I found on the Internet when I was looking for something I forgot.) Plus, I am so preoccupied with my dad and this disease that non-essential information is falling between brain hemispheres. Besides, I am trying to remember two lives now. His and mine.
When I visit Beau at Juniper, I never say, “Hey, remember me?” Questions like that put the patient on the defensive and creates anxiety. It’s better to say, “Hey, Dad. It’s me! Gal!” It’s imperative that the burden of remembering fall on my shoulders on these occasions.
Obviously there is a huge difference in the two scenarios, but they intersect in the same place—-Fear. So I am asking you, please ease my burden too. Just repeat what you told me a few minutes/weeks/months ago without calling attention to my lapse. It’s also quite possible that what you said was boring as hell and I never had any interest in committing it to memory. But I’ll save you that embarrassment if you’ll save me mine.
In the same vein, I’ve always despised the phrase, “YOU NEVER HEARD OF ____?” Fill in the blank with any person, place or thing. Nobody has heard of everything, right? Seems to me that people who use this phrase are trying to make themselves feel superior and/or make you feel inadequate. So, while we’re at it, can we stop that too?
Thanks and love,