Monday, December 28, 2009

Bad news

Haven't updated in a while. Been busy at work preparing for Christmas & post-Christmas sales. Also came down with a wicked stomach flu a few weeks back and missed Andrea's grad school graduation and didn't get to hang out with Matt's family a whole lot while they visited. But I did get to spend a Saturday with them exchanging gifts, and I recovered in time to spend Christmas Day with my family.

It wasn't the best Christmas. I'm not complaining about gifts or anything like that. If anything, Matt's mom & my family were too generous. I got a Kitchen Aid Architect Stand Mixer, a Wii Fit Plus with balance board, a new down comforter, the first Glee cd, several volumes of the Fruits Basket manga, several novels by Octavia Butler (one of my favorite authors), and other various goodies.

Matt & I woke up & did our little gift exchange at home. Mom called to see if we were heading over to their house to exchange gifts. She was worried that the weather would be bad, so we said we'd be over earlier than later. When we got there, Mom, Dad, and Adam were packing up some food to take over to Gram & Pa. I asked why they were taking them a meal, and Mom said that she was worried that if the weather got bad, they wouldn't be able to go out for a meal, and that Gram "doesn't cook anymore." That struck me as odd. Was Gram sick? "Why doesn't she cook?" I asked, but Mom changed the subject. We loaded up the Kia and headed to Gram's.

We greeted my grandparents and Adam gave them the meal he'd prepared for them - ham, green beans, and browned potatoes. We stayed for a few minutes, talking about the Christmas Eve party at my Uncle Glenn's that I had missed (thanks, work!) the night before. Nothing seemed wholly unusual, so when we got back into the Kia to head home, I asked again. "Why doesn't Gram cook anymore?"

Mom sighed. "Your grandfather has been doing a lot of the things that Gram usually does lately. When I asked him about it, he let it slip that your grandmother's doctor believes that she's showing the first signs of Alzheimer's."


It's not completely out of the blue. We've noticed a change in my Gram. She's been getting thinner and quieter, like she's fading away. She used to be so chatty, always holding court and being a bit of a smartass, to be honest. I'm not exaggerating when I describe our family as close-knit, and when I say we gather every Sunday at Gram's just to hang out, I mean that we gather every single Sunday. It may not be everyone every week, but you can find at least half the family there. But now, when there's a large group around, she seems almost overwhelmed, and doesn't play the hostess anymore. She doesn't even participate in conversations like she normally would.

My mother noticed this change, and mentioned it to her sisters. They didn't even want to think about it being Alzheimer's. They offered alternative diagnoses, thinking it might be linked to all the different medications Gram takes. But Mom pushed Pa to talk to Gram's doctor about it.

I guess he finally did. It couldn't have been easy for him. And so far, Mom's the only one he's told. She's trying to convince him that everyone needs to know, all of Gram's siblings and his siblings and so forth. He's apparently been doing everything and trying to hide the fact that he's doing it.

As for me, I can't stop crying when I think about it. I love my Gram. The thought that one day, she won't know me anymore, or my mother, or my Pa, or anyone... it fucking terrifies me. The disease itself terrifies me. And when I think of my Gram forgetting how to do things for herself, even forgetting who she is... all I can do is cry.

So that's what I've been up to lately. My Cannonball Read has fallen by the wayside as I try to get caught back up in my wedding planning and as I deal with this news. I just don't know what to do. Matt and I were talking about it the other day. I was telling him stories, different memories I have of the times I've spent with Gram. He told me that, if nothing else, I should be happy that I have all those memories. He never knew his grandfather, and his grandmother was ill by the time he was adopted. I am truly thankful for those memories, and for her, but I don't want to lose them, or her.

Gah. I'm a mess right now as I sit here typing. But I needed to let it out.


  1. I'm so, so sorry for you and your family. Alzheimer's is a torture and a nightmare I wouldn't inflict on my worst enemy.

    My grandfather had Alzheimer's, but I was too young to really know what it meant. My mom used to hide it from us, too. "Oh, Grandpa's just forgetful, you know. He's fine." We didn't know how truly bad it was because we were subtly prevented from seeing him.

    Eventually he was placed in an assisted living center, but he lasted there less than a year before he passed away. He kept forgetting to eat, and while the staff tried their best, they just couldn't get him to eat every time. He kind of wasted away from various complications.

    I really hope that your Gram doesn't progress too far and is able to continue living a good life.

  2. I'm so sorry.

    My abuelita has had it for at least 10 years, the doctors think. We don't know for sure because she was living alone. For the past five years, she's lived with my mother and me. So I get to witness every day, how she know longer knows who I am or even who she is.

    I hope you and your family will not have to go through that. You're in my prayers....

  3. Thanks for the words of support, Eric & Charissa. They mean a lot to me. Now my family just has to come together to see what we can do to help Gram & Pa as they learn more about this.