Why I Walk – Janet Hastings

20 Aug

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.  It’s fatal…..Yet I am a survivor of this horrible illness. How can that happen?  A miracle?   I just said that there is no cure.

I’m not sure when I first noticed the symptoms. It was actually several years before the diagnosis.  It took a long time to get the devastating news, since there isn’t a definitive test that could give me the answers I so desperately sought. 

Why couldn’t I find things?  Why didn’t familiar foods taste the same?  Why were colors of clothes not quite as bright as they once were? Why did everything in my life seem to be changing so quickly? Why was I so tired? I didn’t sleep well at night. Why did it seem as though I cried all the time? I was so depressed.  I had bruises on my arms that I could only explain to a select few.  I went to church and I prayed for a cure. My family prayed and went to many doctors with me.  I felt as though I lost everything…..my life as I had known it for over 50 years, my freedom, my home,  my joy…and at times, my God and my faith. 

The cure may be just around the corner…..just over the next horizon.  That’s why I’m at this event today. We need to band together.  My walk for a cure began years ago.

It was my mother who had Alzheimer’s. It was in my parent’s home that I could not find things.  All of a sudden things were disappearing from their usual place.  Mom didn’t know where the salt and pepper was even though it had been kept in the same place for the last 58 yrs.  Her mashed potatoes didn’t taste the same, because she left out the salt. My parent’s clothes started changing colors because she forgot to separate the colors from the whites. Sometimes, she forgot to use laundry detergent.  The bruises on my arms were from my mother’s grip when she was angry with me…..because I wanted her to eat, drink, shower or go out for an afternoon ride in the car.  They were simple, everyday things in life, but terrifying to her.  

My mother, father, brothers and I desperately sought medical answers to a disease that has no blood test or single x-ray to diagnose.

I was her primary caregiver.  My 85 year old father and I cared for her for many years. We were both exhausted.  Caregiver’s roles don’t end at 5pm or even 11pm.  It is an all day, every day role…..until the end of life.  I was sleep deprived, sad, depressed and longed for the time when life would return to “normal” for my mother & our family.  We learned to live a “new normal” every single day.  

My life changed forever the day that my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.  It changed the lives of our entire family.  We lost my mother, Kay Hastings, on Oct 3, 2009.  I was holding her hand.

Our family had gathered to say our goodbyes that afternoon….. we knew that she wouldn’t live much longer.  My dad was experiencing the saddest event in his life.  He was losing the love of his life, his Sweetheart of almost 60 years. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, nurse & much more.

Dad died in Dec of 2010.

I am learning to live life at a different pace, love & laugh once again.   I sing, swim, smile, volunteer, teach & nurse. I have learned to ride a horse & a jet-ski and enjoy new adventures in life. I received my Master’s degree in patience.

Research, Education & Support …..helped me Survive Alzheimer’s Disease.

JanetHastings

One Response to “Why I Walk – Janet Hastings”

  1. Bob Fanning August 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Beautiful lady who has earned her stripes in caring for others. Janet — good for you in opening your life to new and fun things. About time … Enjoy. See you around the campus.

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