Monday, December 5, 2011

The Discovery

Four years ago, my husband lost his job. They said it was due to cut-backs, but the fact is that he wasn't performing in his high-pressure, hi-tech management position the way he always had. The stress was getting to him, for sure, and it looked like burn-out. But it was more than that. We just didn't see it at the time.

The economy having done a nose-dive, it wasn't the easiest thing in the world for someone in his age group (59 at the time) to find a comparable position. Let's face it:  No matter how good you are, it's cheaper to hire a younger person. A year later, he was hired back at the same company for a one-month temporary assignment. We were so excited!

But though the position only encompassed a small percentage of what his previous position had entailed, he found that he wasn't getting enough help and wasn't getting enough training. And wasn't able to "catch on." It was frustrating and humiliating. But I need to say this:  Thank you, manager who realized that the person in front of you didn't match the description. Thank you for noticing that something wasn't right. Thank you for suggesting a check-up. Thank you!

About a year and a half ago, after a year of testing and retesting, the neurologist decided there was enough evidence to point to an "early-onset Alzheimer's" diagnosis for my husband. As you can imagine, that day was traumatic. I'm still not convinced that there hasn't been a mistake. Denial. Not just a river in Egypt, as they say.

He was glad to be able to put a name on what was happening to him, but I...well, I think it's safe to say that I freaked out internally. I didn't want to burst into tears and become hysterical, but the doctor's words caused my eyes to mist over and my breath to catch. And then the breathing sped up as I struggled to control my emotions. The room seemed to recede, and my head tingled. My heart raced wildly. I thought I might be about to faint. This was hard enough on my husband already. I didn't want him to witness a meltdown in me. I needed to be strong. So I was. But maybe it would have been better if I'd had that meltdown then, because it sure feels like I'm always on the edge of one now.

To a casual observer, nothing's amiss. But it's getting harder for me to pretend nothing's wrong. And, so, I think it's time for me to start venting "on paper" as a way to release the pent-up emotion and frustration that I'm feeling. So, this is for me. For my mental health. And, also, it's a chronicle. It's going to be very real. It might even be raw at times. So be it.

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