Archive | August, 2016

Why I Walk Wednesday with Jessica Hubbard

31 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_withJessica Hubbard

The reason why I walk can all be summed up in this one picture. My father started showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s right before my 18th birthday in January 2008 at the age of 59. He would become very irritable and would mistake the television remote for the phone. By May of that year we had no choice but to place him in a facility because it was too much for me and my mother to handle alone. Weekends for the next 6 years were spent traveling to North Carolina to spend time with him. We would go to Wal-Mart to buy snacks, go to lunch and take long car rides.

In 2011 I married my husband and we held a small ceremony at the facility so he could be a part of our wedding. We quickly had our daughter Aubree Grace in 2012 because I wanted to make sure my daughter met her grandfather. Although he could never remember her name, it was a blessing to see them together.

Unfortunately my father took a turn for the worst in February 2014 and was put on hospice. He passed away on April 25, 2014, the day my daughter turned 18 months old. I am 26 years old and I have lost my father to Alzheimer’s. I walk in his name in hopes that someday there will be a cure so that my daughter does not have to witness me going through the same horrible disease.

Join me and Walk to End Alzheimer’s! 

Why I Walk Wednesday with Emily Anderson

19 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_withEmilyAnderson

I walk to give a voice to those impacted by Alzheimer’s.

For years, I’ve been watching Alzheimer’s take away someone very special to me. Grandma O’Neil is the women who taught me how to sass like no other and to dance like no one is watching. A hard-working woman who did everything she could to support her family, she is the reason I am volunteering and walking to end this terrible disease.

When my grandmother first began experiencing symptoms, everyone joked about the fact that she was misplacing her keys or forgetting her purse, and laughed it off as “just getting old”. Joking quickly turned to worry as she started wandering outside at night. Over the years, Grandma’s sass has turned to frustration as she no longer understands what is going on. She has no memories, no feelings of nostalgia. She is no longer able to recognize the faces of her grandchildren, her children, or anyone else she once cared for.

No one should have to go through that, which is why I am committed to raising funds and awareness for this cause.

Join me and Walk to End Alzheimer’s! 

Why I Walk Wednesday with Wendy Houston

17 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_withWendyHoustonMy dad exemplified loving kindness and generosity. His love for our mom and four children taught us to value life by treating others with respect and dignity. He loved visiting the sick, hungry, and bereaved. He was gifted in many ways, especially woodworking, giving away most everything he made. My favorite gift was a desk he built just for me.

 

In his 80’s, dad became increasingly disoriented and had little sense of direction. His occasional forgetfulness greatly increased, he no longer enjoyed being around others, and he had difficulty forming simple words and sentences. However, even though dad was embarrassed to speak when words wouldn’t flow, he still said a blessing before every meal.

 

As the disease progressed, dad slept more. He became unable to feed himself or lift his head, and communication ceased. He no longer recalled our names and faces – including mom’s – yet she remained his focus. He clung to her, watching her every move with staring eyes. She remained his loyal love, hope and caregiver.

 

My sweetest memory on this journey occurred right before dad’s communication ceased. One day, we were listening to Amazing Grace and to our amazement, dad moved to the seat’s edge and started humming the song. What an amazing gift to our family in his last days!

 

Please join with me and walk so that future generations are alerted to the urgent need to find a cure for this disease.

Why I Walk Wednesday with Caryn Long

10 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_withCaryn Long

I walk for my father, Birch and for my sons, Forest and Randolph.

My dad; Birch, a Navy veteran, was a brilliant and hard-working man who worked his way from the ground floor of IBM through the ranks to a vibrant career as manager and auditor of the company. Even brighter than his professional career was his dedication to his family. His girls; my mother, sister, and myself, were his entire world: his motivation for his every action.

His father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s later in life and I will never forget hearing my Dad tell me over the phone through tears that he too had this disease. Our family has watched this vibrant, thoughtful and intelligent man being reduced to a shell of his former self.

I miss the conversations I had with him because he can no longer grasp the words to say, and the frustration in his eyes to be unable to do for us let alone for himself is heart-breaking. It is as if I am trying to hold large handfuls of sand in my hands, while those grains, the elements that made my Dad the amazing man he was, escape my grasp.

My sons have never known the man I grew up with and this alone is a tragedy. Their memories of their Papaw will be tainted with Alzheimer’s and it makes me angry. I walk in honor of my Dad as well as for my sons’ futures – one where this disease cannot impact their lives like it has their Papaw’s.

Please join me and register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Why I Walk Wednesday with Carla E. Morin-Diehl

3 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_WITH CARLA MORIN-DIEHLAs I write this at 2:00 am I am overwhelmed with emotion. We have spent the entire day at doctor’s offices and a trip to the hospital because my father crushed his finger this morning in the car door when we got to daycare. So anxious to get in to see his new friends, he didn’t pay attention to what he was doing. He crushed the tip of his finger, lost his fingernail and had a dozen or so stitches. Bandaged up we left the doctor’s office to have him pull the bandage off in less than 10 minutes. Back for another bandage that didn’t even last an hour. So to the emergency room we went because it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Thankfully they put his finger in a splint so that he can’t remove the bandage.

Why am I writing this? Imagine a man that was the first to graduate from college in his family. Imagine a man that retired at 58 as a vice president of a major corporation. Imagine a man that was one of the smartest men you have ever met. There was nothing that he couldn’t do.

In August of 2008, my Daddy and I went to a Red Sox game in Baltimore, something we did for many years. We always stayed in the same hotel, ate at the same places, this trip wasn’t any different. But my Daddy was. He was confused, a bit disoriented, not knowing exactly where he was. I thought he must just be a bit tired. We enjoyed the game and came home the next day. I told my Mom about how he was and she wasn’t concerned, agreed with me that he must have just been tired.

In January of 2013, our worst nightmare came true. My Daddy was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. When seen by the neurologist and tested, he didn’t pass a test. He was losing his ability to understand even the simplest things. My family was devastated.

2 years ago, I signed up for the Williamsburg Walk to End Alzheimer’s and raised enough money to become a Grand Champion. The morning of the Walk I didn’t have any idea what to expect and honestly I was overcome with emotion. My team was small and together we raise over $3000.00. It was so moving and emotional to see for the first time that we were not alone. That there are so many families that are affected by this disease; I knew I had to do this again.

Last year, I walked in the Peninsula Walk to End Alzheimer’s and once again became a Grand Champion. Our team grew to over 20 people and we raised over $6000.00.

This year I was humbled to accept the Chair position for the Peninsula Walk, raising money for ALZ has become my passion. My Daddy fortunately still knows his family, is still very social, but he has lost all comprehension. He is delusional; he doesn’t remember what happened 2 minutes before. His brain has been robbed by this insidious disease, a disease that is the number 6 killer each year.

You never understand the magnitude of this disease until you are faced with it head on. The disease of abandonment, where people that you thought were your friends, slowly stop calling and eventually go away. The disease of the long goodbye, in essence you lose your loved one twice. My Daddy has been gone now for many years. This man looks and sounds like my Daddy, but my Daddy is gone. In his place is a man that is like a little boy, no filter and carefree.

I look forward to a world free from Alzheimer’s disease.

Thanks for reading,
Carla E. Morin-Diehl

Please join me and register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!