Saturday, December 24, 2011

On Dogs

This is a picture of the current dog exploring a crop of mushrooms (that you cannot see) of a variety which she hasn't encountered before.  All rights reserved.

This time of year my thoughts turn naturally to dogs.  I got my first dog for Christmas in fourth grade.  She was a mid-size poodle, white, so of course I named her Fifi.  I had her until sometime in the summer.  My dad used to come and get me on Sundays.  My mother began to insist in her irate way that I take Fifi with me on Sundays.  This wasn't really fair to Fifi or to my dad whose plans did not include looking after a dog.  If we were not visiting various relatives, we were cruising around and going to beaches, woods, museums, and restaurants.  Dogs were not welcome in many of those places.  And I knew it was not safe to leave a dog in a hot car.  I took Fifi with us one Sunday.

My mother wanted me to take Fifi along the following Sunday and I refused.  Saying no to my mother over anything was dangerous.  When I came home that evening, Fifi was gone.  This resulted in  tears (also dangerous when it came to my mother).  I broke down and cried and cried.  She then told me a lie.  She said she had given Fifi to my great grandmother.  Sometimes at night I would go to bed and picture Fifi roaming the streets of Newark cold and lonely and afraid.  At any rate, I never saw Fifi again.  We went to visit my great grandmother the following Christmas.  When I asked repeatedly where Fifi was, my mother told me to shut up.
Since I've been grown and on my own, I've always had at least one dog and at least one cat in the household.

My dad also remembers a childhood dog.  The dog he remembers was a largish sort that was very protective of the kids in his house.  That dog was actually his father's dog but he was much loved.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 23, 2011

Free falling with Lewey Body Dementia

My dad has been dealing with Lewey Body Dementia for about ten years now.  He is staying nearby in an assisted living place.  I see him almost every day.  In the course of the past year, we have shared many memories.  We have also talked about politics, dogs, and family.  I really cherish this time with my dad.  I never ever thought that he would be living up here.

Through our time together-- whether it is spent at the V.A. waiting for medical appointments, in a local diner, or just sitting in his room watching him speak with the Bill Collector of the Month over the phone-- I've gotten to really know my dad better than I ever had before.  Although his Lewey Body Dementia has robbed him of his former life and a marriage, the fundamental of who my dad is shines on through his battered brain.

Lewey Body Dementia is not the same as Alzheimer's .  The two dementias are quite separate but can co-exist.  There are some important differences.  Alzheimers does have a genetic component and there is at least one form that specifically runs in families.  Lewey Body Dementia does not.  The course of Alzheimers is relentless, steady, and able to be staged.  Lewey Body Dementia cannot be staged.  Any of the symptoms can occur at any time during the course of the disease process.  Also, folks with Lewey Body Dementia will often evidence a wide range of skills and deficits on any given day, which can vary from day to day.  It is unfair to lump Alzheimers' folks and Lewey Body Dementia folks together in one nursing unit.  The folks with Lewey Body Dementia are not as mobile for as long as the Alzheimers' folks are.  There can be more Parkinsonian-like features because of the involvement of the brain stem with Lewey Body Dementia Lesions.  The largest similarity that I've found is that both conditions are utterly disruptive of a life.  Dementia splits up families, pits caregivers and loved ones against each other, and frequently impoverishes the sufferer.  More information, and more accurate information can be found at the Lewey Body Dementia Association website.
Here is the link: .  Any mistakes in the description above are my own.  I am a daughter of an aging parent who has Lewey Body Dementia.  I am not any sort of expert.  Anything I express here is not intended to take the place of medical advice.  What I offer here is anecdotal only at best.

And yes, I am a daughter of an aging parent with Lewey Body Dementia.  As painful as it has been for me to bear witness to the times when confusion and frustration take over my dad's thinking, it is far more painful for him.  Dad knows he has Lewey Body Dementia (most days).  I am losing one person, someone that I've always held dear to me in my heart of hearts.  My dad is losing everyone.  But meanwhile, there is still a bunch of living to do.

sapphoq on life