LBDA

How Did We Reach This Point?

It’s April 1, 2010, and we are sitting in the neurologist’s office waiting for the results of the flurry of tests that James (Jim) my husband had been through in the last few months. The doctor informs us that Jim has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia (LBD). Alzheimer’s we knew about but what is this Lewy body dementia? We were soon to find out.

October 11, 2010, I admitted Jim to a care facility as I could no longer take care of him. We had just gone through a summer of disagreements, denials and heartache. The neurologist told me that he had never seen a case of LBD advance as quickly as my husband’s and had no explanation for it.

On a beautiful day in September 2011, I walked into Jim’s room at the care center and watched as two aides and a nurse lifted him up from the floor as he had once again fallen out of his wheelchair. He looked up at me and said, “Who are you?” The nurse was telling him I was his wife, but he no longer recognized me. My life came crashing down.

October 6, 2011, age 76, Jim left our world for a better place and there ended our 52 years of marriage.

How did we reach this point? Jim was a quiet, polite man and it took a great deal of effort on anyone’s part to make him lose his temper. Jim could not get through the day without reading the daily newspaper. He always had a word find or crossword puzzle book by his side or in his hand as he would rather work a puzzle than watch TV. He was a walking calculator which came in handy when we were shopping. He was an excellent driver and never got flustered in traffic. His main hobby was jigsaw puzzles (3,000 to 3,500 pieces).

About the age of 60, Jim began showing signs of aggression while driving and I thought it was because of his job. At 62, he decided to retire since I would no longer ride with him in traffic and, as he told it, he could no longer stand the attitude of the younger workers.

As time went by, his anger got worse but it was generally just yelling and swearing inside the house. Then, I started to notice that he was having problems completing his jigsaw puzzles and he didn’t seem to be doing his word finds and crossword puzzles as much. Jim was a big man and loved to eat and he started complaining that the food didn’t taste good or was cold. I took his car keys away after he had driven through several stop signs and had gotten lost on his way home.

The reason we went to the doctor to begin with was because of Jim falling for no apparent reason and now it was accelerating. The last time he fell at home he hit his head on the ceramic tile in the bathroom. With the help of neighbors, we got Jim up and into bed. The next morning he had forgotten how to get out of the bed. With all options exhausted, I dialed 911.

If you want to share your story with LBDA for future publication consideration, please email dwhite@lbda.org.