Category Archives: Alzheimer’s

David’s Story

While my son was ill for 16 years, I kept scraps of paper where I jotted down all the crises we all experienced. Using all that information, I eventually wrote a book which I called ‘DAVID’S STORY’, even though his name was DORON. I have blogged for years about schizophrenia and the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

Here is my last blog for this year.

DAVID’S STORY

This is the story of one family, the story of millions of families worldwide. My happy, busy, social son, changed. ‘A classic case of paranoid schizophrenia,’ the psychiatrist said. It took a long time before we learned that parents could not cause this illness; that we could not be blamed. We thought he would go into the hospital ill but exit healthy. Wrong. He tried psychotherapy, occupational therapy, dance therapy and group therapy yet he continued to be out of focus, angry, psychotic and paranoid and the army of psychiatric health workers and psychiatrists were unable to help him.

Our teenage daughters stopped bringing friends home. Fear crept in. We attended family therapy at the hospital, told them what transpired when he was home, yet, they sent him home for weekends. BUT, I noticed that in the hospital, the staff always walked behind him.

Meanwhile our daughters did without; without sufficient time from us, without vacations or extras as spare cash went into another prescription, another treatment, and for his psychiatrist’s fees. Our 13-year-old daughter summed it up. ‘IF David’s body were hurting, people would bring gifts and visit him in the hospital, but because it is his mind that is ill, they stayed away.

Our family remained together, took each day as it came, learned to find the positive things in life and even realized how lucky we were to have a father/husband who was so caring,  as well as parents who loved one another. Together, we forged new dreams.

 Our son could no longer bear the voices in his head and realized that he was never going to have peace of mind. All he had ever wanted was to hold down a decent job, have someone to love, and … peace of mind. So, he went to a place of beauty; a place suitable for the surfer he had been.

Our son’s name was Doron but when I wrote this book, I changed all our names and called him David.

In January 1996, three  months before his 34th birthday, we buried our son. On that dull winter’s day, the earth that had been dug out stood in a mound ready to be thrown back. For the last time I talked to my son, while in the cold, still air, I heard a thousand birds sing their songs of life.

All the people who loved my son said farewell, even those who had not coped with his schizophrenia but knew how to handle his death. So many friends, neighbors and acquaintances stood, shoulders touching, their breath mingling in the icy air into one great sigh for our loss. I whispered goodbye. So much left unsaid. I ached to see him on his surfboard There was a thud of earth, a marker – and he was gone. He didn’t even say goodbye. In a tumble of memories, I saw David’s superimposed on the painful image of his anguished expression.

I love you, David. Rest. 1962 – 1996.

David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky, can be bought as a kindle book on Amazon and Smashwords.

 

BREAKING THE DEAFENING SILENCE …………

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  • Do you know that only one lesson on mental illness could make all the difference to young people whose lives have been thrown tragically off course by no fault brain disorders such as:
  • Depressions
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Panic disorder?

The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Illness states that nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental disorders do not seek treatment.

Innovative lessons can put a human face on mental illness and confront the myths that reinforce the silence. Students learn that mental illness has never been more treatable than today. They can learn to watch for the warning signs of a mental illness and how to overcome the stigma surrounding it. Everybody should hear the following:- Mental illness is nobody’s fault. No one can cause a mental illness. Parents are NOT to blame.

Lorraine Kaplan’s son was smart. At 17, he had top grades, was a debater as well as a top trombonist in his school. But, seemingly overnight, he became obsessive and then began hallucinating. ‘The doctor told us that he had schizophrenia and that we would be walking on eggshells for the rest of our lives,’ said Lorraine. ‘He added: ‘I am going to give you some good advice too. Don’t tell anyone.’ So, for ten years they didn’t tell anybody as the stigma seemed too much to manage.  One day, they realized how many people were in the same position and that contributing to the silence was not the way to go about changing things.  So, Lorraine Kaplan became a  vocal advocate, hoping to change things for the next generation, trying to teach that a mental illness is treatable.

Four of the top ten causes of lifetime disability are severe mental illness. At any point in time, one in every ten adolescents are affected by serious emotional disturbances according to the Academy of Child ad Adolescent Psychiatry in the USA. Of  those needing treatment, less than one in five will receive it. Adolescents experiencing a mental illness often turn to drugs or alcohol, or self-medicate.

HAVE YOUR CHILDREN EVER BEEN TAUGHT ABOUT MENTAL ILLNESS IN SCHOOL ? IF NOT, MAYBE IT’S TIME TO START PROGRAMS OF THIS KIND?

DAD, how was I born?

laptopI usually blog about mental illness and how our family coped with all the problems it caused both for us and for our son. I have often mentioned how my late husband used humor to get him to smile instead of becoming heated and talk about his demons. Well, the three of us were out one evening visiting friends and were pleasantly surprised to find that one of their grandchildren was present. After supper, the little boy approached my husband and asked a surprising question … surprising because it was the kind of question children usually ask their own parents or grandparents: “Do you know how I was born?” he asked.

Without hesitation my husband replied:- “Yes I think I can answer your question. I am sure that your mom and dad got together in a google chat room. Then, they set up a date in a cyber café on facebook, sneaked into a secluded room and googled one another. Once there, your mother probably agreed to download from your dad’s hard drive. When he was ready to upload, they discovered that neither of them had used a firewall, and since it was too late to hit the delete button, exactly nine months later, a little pop-up appeared that said in the most adorable voice,  “You’ve got male! Congratulations.

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The Shocking Truth

If my son had been run down by a vehicle, I would probably have spoken openly about it, confident of obtaining sympathy as well as empathy. But, psychosis defies empathy. Only those who have experienced mental illness close up, buy the idea that it is a behavioral disease.  My son was deeply affected by the medications he took, which made him walk stiffly. Although I hated the  expression, the hospital staff called it ‘a Parkinsonian shuffle.’ Much later, we learned that it was a side effect of the haloperidol medications, inducing indifference and to stop sequential thoughts. My son experienced intellectual paralysis. When he once tried to explain how he was feeling, he once asked; ‘Do you see and hear the swarm of helicopters hovering overhead?’  ‘Yes,’ we answered. ‘Well, that’s the kind of noise I hear in my head sometimes and it stops me from listening, hearing, thinking!’ Our family loved playing scrabble but he told us that he could barely build a three-lettered word any longer. I looked at my son with his tangled mass of hair – lying sprawled on his bed, and I hugged him saying; ‘I love you’  tears streaming down my face.

This  blog ends with a four – letter – word

hope 1I have lived through a great deal of sadness, shock and grief and I managed to survive each time. My children did too. We all learned to move on and overcome adversity.

I even learned to dream a bit. Every single week I dream I’m going to win the lottery. I dream that cyclamens will bloom again in my lawn the way they did so mysteriously last year. I dreamed that my eight-year-old-car would pass the licensing test again this year – and it did!

More than anything else, I dream that my family will remain healthy. I also dream of a world without illness and senseless violence. I believe that  circumstances will change for the better in the future.

Nobody can live without hope. In fact, the four letter word I wrote about is    H    O    P    E.

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When talking to someone with dementia, don’t argue – agree.

When talking to a person with any kind of dementia:

Agree with the patient rather than argue. Distract rather than try to reason. No one is perfect so try not to shame that person.  Reassure rather than lecture . Avoid saying; ‘Do you remember?’ Reminisce rather.

My late husband remained my best friend even after he became ill. He was a man full of love and quiet wisdom who accompanied and supported me throughout the ups and downs of our lives. t was my turn to take care of him.

 

Why does Papa act this way?

Alzheimer’s is not easy to cope with, and it became difficult to reply to the barrage of questions asked by my grandchildren who wanted to know why their Papa acted the way he did. I thought long and hard in order to come up with a reasonable explanation, then this is what I said:

‘Your Papa has an illness called Alzheimer’s and that makes him act the way he does. It’s a bit like having a broken leg, you know. But with Papa, a small piece of his brain is broken and doesn’t work the way it should. Because of this, he can’t remember what you told him yesterday. Because of this, he forgets how to use the television remote. Because of this, he often falls asleep when you are in the middle of telling him something important. Because of this, he forgets people’s names. BUT, the part of Papa’s brain that is for  loving, still works well, and I know that he loves  you all very much.’

Then I showed them the diagram below of a healthy brain, and one showing what Alzheimer’s disease does to a brain.

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The image on the left is of a normal, healthy brain. The one on the right, shows signs of Alzheimer’s Disease,