What is one of the most important things one can do after a diagnosis of dementia? First, we must ACCEPT our diagnosis. This likely will take some time...we have just been hit with a Mack Truck. For me, my first response was "It is what it is and everything will be okay". Most likely that response was because of my faith, and I am a positive person.
Three months later.....my thoughts were different. I felt as if I was a convicted murderer. The physician had entered the charges, the jury had found me guilty, and the judge had issued the death sentence without appeal. Now I had a difficult situation to resolve. What would my response be? I can tell you, it took some time to sort through all of those feelings and emotions. I thought about the physical, mental, emotional, financial, legal and much more that needed to be considered. I had some experience with this because Dad had Vascular Dementia and Mom had Alzheimer's, but this did not prepare me for it being ME. At the time of diagnosis, I was 64 years old.
Let me suggest that we evaluate our ATTITUDE after our diagnosis. ATTITUDE will have a huge positive effect on anyone with dementia regardless of the type dementia. We have a choice as we decide what our ATTITUDE will be.
Will we choose to be NEGATIVE, and only see doom and gloom? I would suggest this rarely, if ever, will provide a peace to face the days ahead. Negativity will most always yield poorer outcomes. For me, it would be almost like sitting around to die.
Or, will we have a POSITIVE ATTITUDE? This most often will lead to better outcomes. Many surgeons have told me, they would rather operate on someone with a positive attitude rather than a negative attitude. Their reasoning was the outcomes would be better.
Soon after diagnosis, I was told the average life expectancy was 6 to 8 years. Several months after diagnosis I asked, "What is the range of life expectancy". The answer was 2 to 20 years. A light bulb went off inside my brain.
Telling my wife that I was not a statistic was letting myself become free to live. I told her that I was a LIVE HUMAN BEING, and I would beat the 20 years. Will I beat the 20 years? I, like everyone else, have no idea. The benefit though is that it changed my ATTITUDE, and I decided LIFE was worth living to the fullest.
My life over the last 3 of the 4 years since diagnosis has been some of the best years of my life. No longer do I focus just on living today, but living every day. I began spending a lot of time in dementia advocacy with my website lbdlivingbeyonddiagnosis.com and my Facebook Page. I became active with the Lewy Body Dementia Association and Dementia Mentors where I am able to meet with others living with dementia in the United States and Europe, three times each week. Also, I am able to meet virtually and mentor others living with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) just like myself.
Almost a year ago, I was appointed to the Advisory Counsel of Dementia Action Alliance. Since March 2015, I have been spending a lot of time preparing for a "Day of Dementia Education with Teepa Snow" event in my hometown of Thomaston, Georgia.
My faith along with my desire to help others has given me a strong purpose in life. Purpose can be one of the driving forces in each of our lives. Now I can take time to smell the roses, look at God's creation, enjoy the butterflies, watch the birds, and listen to the birds chirp.
My living with LBD is very challenging to say the least for both me and my wife. My heart goes out to my wife as she is having to go through this. Together we will face each day with as much of a positive attitude as possible and look for brighter days ahead .
Fight Like A Tiger - Be LBD Strong
©June 6, 2016 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.