I am 55 years old and have been married for 32 years. We have two wonderful grown daughters and a beautiful 4-year-old grandson. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family with seven brothers and sisters. My mother was an alcoholic. She was very abusive, and my dad did the best he could to protect us. She passed away when she was 55.
I started drinking and doing drugs at 11. I was severely addicted and took over 100 pills a day along with the drinking. I brought my husband and daughters into the same hell I grew up in; the only difference was I loved my girls so much I could not abuse them, so all the abuse was toward myself. I went to rehab at age 35, when my girls were 9 and 7. It has been 19 years in Alcoholics Anonymous, and it has been rough. As a family, we have worked together in counseling to try to mend the issues from my alcoholism and drug addiction. We are very close and love one another intensely.
I did suffer brain damage, but I also was blessed with a wonderful job as a family social worker in a very poor school district. In my late 40s, I started noticing some forgetfulness – like everyone my age – but it continued to get worse, and other things started to happen. I had done so well in my job, but then the forgetfulness turned to confusion, time loss and not recognizing people I had known for years. I started to have tremors and huge bouts of anger from nowhere.
I was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the fall of 2006. I had to retire from my job a few years prior because of my symptoms and other physical problems. I have been through the medications, and things are not good. My family is in pain once again because of my disease, and I can’t even describe how much I don’t want to be a burden to my loved ones. Some days, I don’t get out of bed, and others I fight like hell to get up and get out, even when I feel horrible. I see people I don’t recognize. My speech is terrible, which makes me self-conscious.
We have heard about new medications coming out, and I am so excited. I am going for my six-month check up at the Alzheimer clinic closest to us. My girls are in the prime of their lives. They both had full college athletic scholarships and have wonderful careers, but all they do is worry about me, as does my husband.
Out of 55 years of life, I have only lived 19. We have to keep giving for research. This is a horrible way to live, and I have experienced life on God’s terms. I pray every day for my family and myself that something will change.