With ALZ my Heart
"Having a recognized purpose in life, instills you with the drive to pursue and accomplish things. The benefit is living life, not just existing." - Brian
5.5 Million People Slipping Away...
...and this is the best chance to hold on to them.
The Walk to End Alzheimer's is coming up soon in my area. I will be walking. My motivation is deeply personal since I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's nine months ago at the age of 54. I'm writing this so that maybe it will motivate you to join me. I am a big Carolina Panthers fan and never miss the games on TV. But I'm the only male in my household. So I learned that if I can share interesting background stories and information with my fiancé and daughters about the team and players, they feel connected to them and often watch the games with me. I want to tell you my story so you will get in the game and walk with me.
A little over a year ago, I worked for a big company in a corporate park. My life was on cruise control. Between my fiancé and me, we have five kids – three boys and two girls. The girls are in high school here in Charlotte, and my boys are finishing college and grad school. I love my kids! But I will probably never know their children, my future grandkids.
...That was tough to write.
Grandkids is one of those big things on the distant horizon I was looking forward to. We can change this!
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's... not even a medication to slow it down.
You get diagnosed and the first thing you do is to try to find out what the diagnosis means. And you read things like... 8 - 12 years life expectancy, from the time of diagnosis. But you only really have half of that before the effects change you significantly and you begin to slip away. For those like me, it is like aging your final 35 years in five years. We can change this!
I love dogs! I have three. The youngest is a two-year-old Great Dane named Recon. We take him out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center regularly and are often mobbed by people who are drawn to his large, rugged, goofy good looks. He loves it. When we were considering a Great Dane we kept hearing "Danes only live about eight years." I thought wow, that is a short time, but it will be eight happy years. And so far the first two have been great! Six to go ... the timing almost fits with how long I'll be able to care for him. He's barking at me now while wagging his tail.
No one is guaranteed tomorrow. When we are young we cannot comprehend the certainty of uncertainty. We assume we will live forever. And that is a great way to live. I was just coming into that middle age part of life, peering down the road to what it might be like when I get old.
Although there is no cure, I am hopeful. But so far out of 360 or so drug trials over the last 20 years, not one has been successful. More awareness and more money are needed. Currently, there are a handful of government approved drug trials to find a cure and few more to find drugs to help slow things down.
But there are over 220,000 people in our country right now who, like me, are diagnosed under the age of 65.
And there is another 5.5 million TODAY over age 65 with Alzheimer's.
That is about two and a half times the population of Charlotte NC where I live. Where are these people? They seem to be hidden, rarely seen. They are slipping away. We can change this!
My life and outlook has totally changed. My bucket list has been drastically shortened. My focus now is to help those I can who are trying to navigate the trauma of an Alzheimer's diagnosis. I am in a race against time because my brain is dying. Because right now there is no cure in sight, BUT WE can change this!