Nov 272007

This entry was written by my friend, Mike Donohue. Thank you, Mike, for sharing your voice.

I was diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s Disease. This is the worst possible diagnosis I could get, short of suffering a crippling stroke like my Dad or losing my eyesight. As I pass from conscious connection with Alzheimer’s, I am told I will not know what is happening. The pain of it is suffered by those loved ones around me.

None of this spares me the pain I will visit on my wife: robbed of a partner in exchange for a ward and charged with the effort and the cost of caring for me. I am saddened for my children. I will likely not experience their progress in life, nor growth of my five grandchildren I now have and any more that may come. I will probably not be around or lucid if I am for their weddings and births of my grandchildren.

Although initially devastated by the diagnosis, I quickly arrived at this way of thinking about my diagnosis of Early Alzheimer’s. I believe that things happen according to a plan. Whose plan? I do not know. My plan set in this lifetime it is not! Whether it is mine devised somewhere else, the plan of my higher power, or what, I have no idea. It is a plan followed by me in spite of me, taking me often into places and directions I would rather not be. Much of it has been painful. As I learned in Alcoholism, learned before recovery and learned after recovery, I am the better person for having experienced where I have been taken. It all turned out as it ought to have. All of the events have tied together in a definite pattern. I can see this now, realizing it retrospectively. It is seen in the serenity of my senior years which has been one of the best things about growing old. I no longer have challenges to meet, I have met them and my serenity is the result.

I have also known I was not finished. I hoped I was finished but knew I was not. I wondered what was yet to happen. It has been my view that I have not done as much for my family, my fellow man, my world, as I should have. I was troubled that I was not doing in this arena, saw others that were, and felt empty in my self in this regard. When I thought about it I reasoned, if I really believed I was living a plan, if my attitude was willing, the right thing for me to do would come along and I would do that. Although I wondered whether or not I was shirking or just fooling myself, the times I considered this, I was prevented by one circumstance or another from going right out and getting something started. It was in this that I at least felt a little peace about it.

When at peace I would think, I wonder what my next undertaking will be and when it will present itself. I honestly believed that and found serenity by relying on that. I believed I would fulfill the rest of my life with something more that would be meaningful for me. I would find something with which I could leave at least a little mark having helped others.

On June 29th, 2006, I learned what my next challenge is. It was in the doctor’s office when it presented itself. I have Alzheimer’s disease! It was presented to me then and there! What I do about it will be my measure of my last days. I have five to eight good years to find that out, maybe ten or twenty years if I am lucky. I pray to my Higher Power that I have the strength, the fortitude, to make the best of this time. I further pray that I may leave a mark because of this.

  One Response to “My Next Challenge”

  1. Mike, My heart goes out to you and your family. My Mother suffered with Alzheimer's Disease for 15 years and recently passed away in November. But I can assure you that the years we had with her continued to be rewarding, loving, and nothing short of miraculous. Until the day she left us, I learned something from her every day! Keep your faith.rd

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