Jeanne Tetreault West
Our journey with dementia began Memorial Day weekend 1995 when my husband had a heart attack and had to be resuscitated. A couple of days later we were told it took a full eight minutes to resuscitate him. When he came home there were differences in him. I was so happy he survived that I just accepted them.
Looking back there were many signs and symptoms that I dealt with. He was slowly getting worse year after year. In January, 2008, he was placed on Family Medical Leave by his job. After a medical check-up he was found to be "Fit-for-Duty" and went back to work. By the end of 2008 I could no longer ignore his symptoms and called our family medical Dr. and made an appointment for him. He was given the mini-mental status test and an MRI and in December, 2008 he was officially diagnosed with dementia. Probable cause was loss of oxygen when he stopped breathing after his heart attack, Anoxia. In January, 2009 he was again placed on Family Medical Leave and after extensive testing by UCONN Medical Center we were told he would not be able to go back to work, ever. Reason was a diagnosis of dementia. That was April, 2009. He was 59.
Since 2010 we have both participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer's. It is so uplifting to see the sea of purple, the beautiful field of flowers and all the dedicated staff and volunteers. I had the honor of representing the caregivers at the 2013 Walk and Bill had the honor of representing the Alzheimer's patient at the 2014 Walk at opening ceremonies.
This is our new way of life. There have been some challenges along the way, but fortunately not too many. I have learned to trust my instincts and my decisions. He is a joy to care for and our time is so precious. This time we have together is a blessing. At the start of our journey I had no idea of all the support and resources the Alzheimer's Association provides. We have taken advantage of so many.
My hope is that a cure will be found in my lifetime. No one rich or poor is immune from this devastating disease. I want our children and grandchildren to be free from this disease.