To be diagnosed with dementia
is like getting hit upside the head with a 2 x 4.
The realty of this diagnosis will often cause
someone to withdraw and not want to be
At the time of diagnosis there are
so many questions that flood the mind.
Some of the questions might be different with an early
onset diagnosis versus a late onset diagnosis.
No matter what stage dementia is present at the time
of diagnosis, those questions are real to the
person who has been diagnosed.
For me, my career as a pharmacist had just ended and
I was only 64 years old.
No longer would I be able to practice pharmacy again.
My diagnosis swept me off my feet because I had lost
my purpose in life. For 42 years, I had practiced pharmacy in my hometown. Throughout my professional career, I had loved and
attempted to meet every need I could for my patients.
Most every night, I received phone calls from patients
asking me questions or asking me to
return to the pharmacy to dispense a prescription.
For me, this was the norm.
Because of this, it was easy for me to withdraw and
not want to be around other people.
Finally I realized and accepted the fact that I could
only sit on the "pity pot" so long.
I became very engaged and started advocacy.
When I did this, I started improving.
Three years later, I was referred to Mayo Clinic
in Rochester, Minnesota.
I was gone from home 12 days. Two days for travel and 4
weekend days. I had 22 tests/office visits in 7 business days.
During this entire time, I stayed fully engaged because of
an increase adrenaline response.
After returning home, I literally crashed and burned.
I would have difficulty going to sleep at night and
finally be able to sleep for about 6 hours.
I would sleep for most of the daytime hours.
This lasted for almost 4 weeks.
I felt as if I had lost my purpose in life again.
Nothing I did seemed to help
Harry Urban who started the Forget Me Not groups
and I became great friends one year ago.
We fueled off of each other and
constantly challenged each other.
If I began having difficulty with my disease,
Harry would reach out and not allow me to stay
in that state of mind.
Likewise, I would do the same thing for him.
This is an important part of friendships.
With my return home from Mayo Clinic,
Harry had a lot of work to do.
Finally, over the past few days, I have started
recovering and regaining more of my passion.
The last two days have been fantastic.
My wife and I ate breakfast at Burger King this morning.
A former 86 year old patient of mine in my pharmacy
was eating breakfast there also and asked me
how I was doing.
I explained to him that I was bored especially
since I do not drive anymore. He still has an office
across the street from my old pharmacy where he rents
cars short term. He immediately told me that
I could come sit with him in his office anytime.
Furthermore, he told me that he would come to my house
and drive me to his office. Then he really surprised me.
I took him up on his offer. The next thing I knew, he had me
in his car and was driving me all through the countryside.
Now that is a true friend.
Today was another reminder that friendship and
socialization are important in living with dementia.
I am better today than I was yesterday because
of the time that he spent with me.
Living Beyond Diagnosis
©2015 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.