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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Alzheimer’s Diary: John ‘holding his own’ against the disease 10 months after diagnosis

(This is part of an ongoing 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 has 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
Special to KyForward
 

November is month of thanksgiving. Coincidentally, John’s birthday and Thanksgiving are within a week of each other. We never considered that we wouldn’t have another Thanksgiving, another birthday, another day until the day we received John’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It is hard to believe that was ten months ago. Although a daunting diagnosis, it was also a gift in helping us understand that every day is a gift. This was also a time to reflect on what lay ahead.
 

(Photo provided by Ginger Sanders)

On our trip back from South Carolina, we discussed our impressions on John’s Alzheimer’s status. I asked John if he felt he was losing ground, holding his own, progressing. John feels that he is holding his own pretty well; however, he said, “Alzheimer’s is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.”
 

He says there are days that he feels like he is fifty and could return to work. But then there are days that his mind is muddled. There are days he feels he is a burden and other days when he feels is contributing. It is the not knowing what the day will hold.
 

“However, waking up is always a positive step,” John said.
 

John’s biggest complaint is when he is around certain friends that know he is has Alzheimer’s, they will avoid him. He doesn’t know if it is they think they have to act differently because they don’t know what to say or if they are afraid they will “catch” Alzheimer’s. If they would talk to John, they would see he isn’t any different. We discussed how subtle Alzheimer’s can be, how it sneaks up on you. Although John feels normal most days, they are a time his brain seems scrambled, which is frustrating.
 

Since participating in the clinical trial in South Carolina, I have seen minimal deterioration with John’s mental acuity. He misses words in conversations (don’t we all) and he cannot write as before. However, he is almost totally independent. We are hoping that the drug he is receiving with the clinical trial is staving off the onslaught of Alzheimer’s.
 

I have compiled some new data I discovered in my quest to slow down John’s Alzheimer’s, which I will share with you next week.
 

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 ginwsanders@gmail.com.
 

Read more of Ginger’s diary entries

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