OUR UNPLANNED JOURNEY (continued 2)
In this crazy world, we feel like our home is our refuge – a place where we feel safe and have peace, a place where we experience love and caring. It’s where we want to be. It’s where we want to stay. We don’t want to change. But, we also believe that God is our refuge no matter where we are. So, we don’t need to fear change. God never changes and we can count on that!
Although there had been subtle changes for several years, the reality of change became official in May of 2016 when my husband suffered a stroke. An MRI of the brain to determine the cause of the stroke also revealed a condition called cerebral amyloid angiopathy. The neurologist explained that this condition had probably been going on for a number of years and could explain some of the subtle changes experienced over those years. A simple explanation of this condition is that an amyloid protein builds up in the small vessels in the brain and causes them to bleed out. This can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease. There is no treatment or cure.
The determination on the cause of the stroke was smoking, so the obvious solution to preventing another stroke would be to stop smoking. Although it can be hard, there are ways to get help and be successful with giving up that habit. Now, however, we’ve been given a diagnosis without a solution. How do we process this news? My husband is not ready yet to receive and process this information. He has a road of rehabilitation to walk (literally) to recover from the effects of the stroke. So, I choose to concentrate on that too. I try to push the other diagnosis out, but wake up in the middle of the night with the words “cerebral amyloid angiopathy” in my head. I try to ignore it. I do NOT try to get more information about the condition. I do everything I can think of NOT to think about it. However, like a black cloud, it is still there.
So, after a few weeks I search out information on this condition and verify in my mind that what the neurologist told me is true. I now accept the diagnosis.
After weeks of therapy in a rehabilitation facility, it is time to go home and begin outpatient therapy to help with the effects of the stroke. After weeks of outpatient therapy, strength and balance have improved, but there is still “at home” therapy to continue. By now, my husband is trying to understand his diagnosis and is asking many questions. His cognitive skills are diminished though, so he asks the same questions over and over.
A follow up appointment with the neurologist from the hospital suggests a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in addition to the cerebral amyloid angiopathy. My husband requests a second opinion. His physician arranges for a second opinion and after testing, we get a diagnosis of late onset, early stage Alzheimer’s. My husband says he doesn’t like the diagnosis, but isn’t surprised and accepts it.
To be continued —-