(This is part of an ongoing weekly diary as Ginger Sanders shares the emotional journey she is taking with her husband, John, as they discover his onset of Alzheimer’s. Over 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease; one in eight older Americans have it. Ginger and John Sanders did not expect to be among those statistics. Ginger’s touching story puts a real face and real name on the statistics and – she hopes – will help all of us understand what so many of our fellow Americans, loved ones and neighbors are going through.)
By Ginger Sanders
Exclusive to KyForward
One thing I failed to mention in previous posts is that John and I were supposed to be living in South Carolina by this time. We received a purchase contract on our farm the day after John’s diagnosis in February and were confident our new address would be in South Carolina. We anticipated closing in May but like most plans, they went awry. The buyer’s financing fell through so we have had to put our farm back on the market. So every other week, we board our dogs, and burn the highway between Kentucky and South Carolina. Keep your fingers crossed that we sell our farm quickly.
It’s difficult enough to confront the challenges of dealing with Alzheimer’s. It just seems we could catch a break. Selling our beautiful farm so we could move closer to MUSC’s Clinical Trial would make life a little easier. But you adapt. Thank goodness, I have flexibility with my job. However, it still takes a minimum of three days, driving seven hours a day, every other week to participate in the clinical trial. I am not complaining (well, maybe a little because it wears you out). Would we consider bowing out of the trial? Hell no, it is our only chance against this disease!
We have incredible support from our family, friends and even strangers. We believe in the power of prayer, so we are so fortunate to have some many people praying for and with us. Additionally, the response received from this column’s readers has been nothing short of inspirational. Many readers, with loved ones who had or are enduring Alzheimer’s, have taken time to share insights, helpful hints and prayers. It is such a comfort, especially in the early morning hours when I can’t sleep. I feel like I have aged 10 years since learning John’s diagnosis.
So how are we doing? Well, honestly, I thought we were at status quo which is good. Not losing ground, which is amazing, but not gaining any either. That was until John’s second infusion 4 weeks ago. While registering at the clinic, John was asked our address (this is done at every visit) and he didn’t remember. I was shaken but covered it up. I told him our address. He was asked his home telephone number and again, he didn’t remember. So again, I helped him. I didn’t react and John did not seem to notice.
I was devastated. Dammit! We have been doing everything right. He has eaten mostly organic food, taken virgin coconut oil daily, exercises every day, plays brain games, reads, takes his Aricept and participates in a clinical trial. What was going on? I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to turn. I sunk into a depression, which is difficult to hide from John. Maybe it was a one-time fluke; maybe he was nervous about the MRI (he hates closed-in places). So I prayed and once again put it into God’s hands.
Our daughter Lindsey’s baby was due the first of August, but there were some complications so they decided to induce her on July 26. Enter a Chinese fire drill! John’s MRI appointment was the day before Lindsey was to be induced.
So, we drove to Charleston for his MRI exam. Then John’s brother, Richard, met us in Clinton, S.C., to pick up John and take him back to Kentucky. I stayed with our daughter.
The next day, Rory Scott Boore was welcomed into our world. Weighing in at 7 pounds and 5 ounces, he was the epitome of all that is right in the world. Mom, Dad, Reecie (big brother) and baby are all healthy and happy.
Richard and John met their sister Dee and her husband George on Friday for dinner. Dee and George brought John home, where our daughter Beth and son Noah were waiting for him. I didn’t want him to be alone. Of course, that was the Friday of the big storm. John, Dee, George, Beth and Noah crouched in the basement as the storm did its worst. I was so thankful someone was with John. It was an adventure for everyone.
Beth and Noah stayed with Pops throughout the weekend. God bless our family for helping us out. My sisters, who live in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, even volunteered to come get John in South Caroline and take him to Kentucky. We are so blessed. John is easy to be nice to. He never asks for anything and is always ready to help someone. Not a saint but a wonderful human being.
The storm devastated the huge oak tree right in front of our house. It was as if the hand of God kept those huge (and I do mean huge) broken limbs from falling on our house. I was frantic but Beth took great care of her dad.
Life is very short. When we were younger, we were caught up in climbing the ladder, making money, getting to the kids’ games, cleaning the house, cutting grass and going to the right places. Looking back, I wished we had focused more on family. We should have loved each other more, appreciated God’s plan and reveled in the simple treasures of life (playing with children, puppies, beach walks and family). I am amazed at the outpouring of kindness of our children, our family, our friends and our church.
Being that we are in the middle of Olympics, I compare this journey to a relay with someone else (our family) picking up the baton to help us run this race to a successful finish.
Although Ginger is a vice president of sales for a renowned antimicrobial company (SAS Global Inc.), her main objective is to stymie the onslaught of Alzheimer’s on her husband, John. Ginger lives with her husband and three dogs on their farm in Lawrenceburg. A dedicated family person, she and her husband have 11 grandsons. Ginger Sanders is a transplant from South Carolina and a product of the University of South Carolina where she majored in the English Literature. She has taken on the fight of Alzheimer’s to win and help others as they struggle through the quagmire of this disease. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Read all of Ginger’s diary entries