…We stepped into a brave new world when Tony’s actions didn’t always seem quite right; and he’d had a couple of falls at home. These events frightened me a lot – Tony was too tall and I couldn’t even imagine helping him up off the floor. We went to the doctor to see what was to be done.
Apprehension pasted itself onto our backs. We knew that something was amiss. The ensuing assessment questionnaires and exercises seemed nearly silly. It didn’t seem urgent to me that Tony could not readily say what day of the week it was, and that he wasn’t able to draw the hands on a clock or tell time was just a little slip. When the doctor did call us in to discuss the results of the Mini Mental Examination, Tony did not, would not, and could not believe it. The official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease shattered us. Tony was masculine in appearance, tall, athletic and brawny; there must be a mistake. The doctor waited quietly and recommended Tony start immediately on a medication which would slow down the process of decline. There was no cure.
We drove home in stunned silence. Once inside the door, Tony flew into a rage, reacting to the staggering announcement.
“How could this be true? How could this happen to me after everything else; there’s no sense to it. What does it mean – am I going to lose my mind and not know you, not know anyone or anything? I can’t grasp it.” were Tony’s agonized comments.
We knew we were in for a long haul – the feeling was ominous. We scarcely spoke, reeling with “what ifs and unknowns”. Privately, in the shower, I fell to pieces. It was a crucial time in our lives.
I had no answers either, but did try to suggest a comparison that might put everything in a simple light. “Tony, think of your work as a lineman for all those years. You know what happens when electricity arcs or stops flowing through the lines. It’s a short circuit – when the current is broken, or there’s a misfeed of some sort. Your brain has some interference on the line Tony. It’s short circuiting – sometimes the current gets interrupted.” He nodded, “I get it now.”