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Any disease or major shift in life brings the opportunity to shake you up, wake you up from planned or unplanned complacency or certitude. Having experienced this numerous times, in varied guises, over sixty years I would have to say Alzheimer's has made me a better person. Kinder, more patient, far more compassionate than I could have imagined, in a manner that extends past my particular situation. I consider this change good.


Wherever there is good, there also exists its counterpart. Perhaps I could credit my age, my ingrained distrust in people and situations, or just the unexpected onset of Alzheimer's taking over the man who finally got me to settle down. "In sickness and in health", we vowed on a hilltop almost 30 years ago. The bad includes: certain family members, telemarketers, insensitive or demeaning health providers, anyone who deliberately targets the elderly. My reaction to this is brutally protective. You don't want to press that button.


When I can distance myself from the disintegration or re-alignment of my husband's brain and personality, the disease is both fascinating and oddly funny. This towering man, who can still make me weak in the knees, becomes at times a trusting child, a storyteller who combines different events into one story that makes sense to him, a time-traveller, an avowed atheist who empties the chalice at Mass for my mother's birthday and after all these years, can make me laugh in the morning by suddenly eating his breakfast out of the frying pan.

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