FAMILY

FAMILY
I fight for a cure for me & our amazing children❤️

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My walk with Alzheimer's

This is my first blog so I wanted to start with some context. I was diagnosed with Early Stage Early Onset Alzheimer's on July 20, 2016. My kids and my husband were with me in the room as 15 research physicians and interns shared the news. The pictures of my CT/PET and MRI are forever in my brain. When I saw all the red on the slide, I knew I had AD. It was not a great moment but it some ways I felt validated.  I KNEW something was wrong and almost everyone kept saying my symptoms were 'normal'. But it's not normal for a 58 year old to repeat herself, or to struggle with learning new things, to forget conversations so much so that my role managing a sales team at Intel Corporation became such a huge burden.

I am now 61 and for the past two and a half months I've been focused on raising money and awareness of this horrible disease. My husband and I had the pleasure of flying up to Portland OR to walk on a team that was formed by my staff at Intel. What an honor it was to be there with them, and to say goodbye. I am no longer able to work and on short term medical leave, which will turn into a long term leave in May of 2017. I will stay on long term leave until I am 65 and then I will retire. Who knows what will happen with Social Security and all that. At this point I'm taking things one day at a time and living in the moment.

Last Saturday we walked in the Walnut Creek, CA Alzheimer's walk and I was in stage at the 'blue flower' ceremony. Wow - that was emotional. As I looked out I saw my oldest daughter sobbing hysterically. My heart was broken but I also realized that she needed to get out her feelings.  I had over 30 family and friends walk with me and overall it was a wonderful day. The emotions of being on stage and raising my blue flower must have been strong because I have a huge cold sore on my lip! I guess your body responds when you go through stress even though your mind may be calm.

The Walnut Creek walk was special for me because I raised over $16,000 and was the top fundraiser for the event. My friends at Intel all came through, as well as some unexpected donations from people I hadn't seen or spoken to in over 10 years. God is good and he is using me to raise awareness--and I am so happy that this is my new job.

We walk in Chico, CA this Saturday and my next blog will be about my experience as the 'Early stage Alzheimer's' speaker. Thank you in advance for your support๐Ÿ’œ

22 comments:

  1. Love to you Pam, and Bob. Stay strong!!!

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  2. Beautiful Pam. As your journey progresses, there is love all around you. I am not surprised you are the top fundraiser, and love your new job.

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    1. Thanks so much Pete! I appreciate your support. Take care.

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  3. I lost my sister to this terrible disease and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your willingness to share your journey. You are my role model and a true inspiration to us all.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear this :( God bless you. I hope this and my other posts will help all who are suffering today.

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    1. Love you girlfriend! Just doing the best I can to help all the others out there who need support.
      Xoxo

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  5. I am so proud to call you my friend!! You know we all are with you, every step of the way!

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    1. More than just a friend.... And I feel the same and know are with me. Xoxo

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  6. It was an honor to share the stage with you last weekend, Pam. Your strength is inspirational.

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    1. So happy to know you Ginny! Thanks for your support.

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  7. WOW. I didn't know until this minute, Pam. I am in TURE AWE. "TIs the perfect moment, although my emotions are all over the place right now. GOD LOVE YOU! I will be following every blog and you know I belong to you in a large sense. In these cases, where there is no space or time, since we last were together...our growing years were together... we skip forward to NOW. What a GREAT SKIPPER You've always been!!!! I pray you are feeling good about the inspiration, awareness and fundraiser you have begun! What a WOMOAN!!!! WOW. Proud to be your sister-friend. HOW IMPORTANTLY those goals are NEEDED!

    I could find no Advocate, no time for learning about the disease, a blog though, in 1st person, I may have gotten to. Reached somehow. All was surreal, stressful, my responsibilities raising every hour. Where could I get help in this town? In Person? Too late, I found there was one resource.

    It so happens that I am recovering from my mother's Alzheimer's, Lewy Bodies, which went undiagnosed for, who knows how long. She'd finally remarried at 87, after some 40 yrs. a high functioning widow. Her new husband died just as she was released from her 1st fall requiring emergency hip replacement. He had kept her condition in denial, Advanced by her hip surgery, I learned once we were alone together that, although she seemed to enjoy my company immensely, she actually had no idea who I was, my name, or the association of it. I will never forget those minutes of making a game out of guessing every morning as I tried to care for her by myself at her home, while in chronic pain and necessary surgeries stacking up for me, most of which are still on back burner. She was 91 yrs old then. AN absolute sweet joy to be with. My Aunt, her baby sister, back east had been diagnosed with same at an earlier age- was in assisted living at that time. Mom kept falling, breaking bones, more surgeries, more recoveries. Couldn't remember not to walk. She fell for the last time the moment her sister, back east took her last breath, then mom died vitally 5 days later, 46 yrs to the day from the time Dad died in the plane crash and just after her 93rd BD..
    I've had quite a time, lost brother just before, companion dog, 2 kitties, many friends, Uncle most recently. But, it was the CONDITIONS of Mom and her sister's last years that have been most bewildering. recognizing their Mother, as well. I was to have my 3rd MRI this year, for the several TIA's and one; more potent, stroke a few years ago. 2 more TIA's believed to have occurred in spring this year. I've put them off...the MRI's...as struggling with mom's belongings and the sale of her house which has been quite a feat! Hopefully the current offer will be the last. Will manage to get everything tied up and put to rest. Secretly, until now, I've also put them off for fear of finding I have AD, too, and hope to finish up The Move just in case. Have been fortunate to have had your sister by my side during many of the most acute moments. If not for her support and unconditional love, really would have been lost! She was able to tell me the truth when I thought Mom would still be able to go home. When she came to help lift my big girl into the car to go to the vet. Other times.
    Know how I LOVE you and will stand with you in any case! ( Although I can no longer take walks). Will follow and support you in other areas. It is with Love and Gratitude, Deep Wounds due to UNAWARENESS, I thank you for being Beautiful Pammie Always. Dinah

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    1. Thanks Dinah. So sorry for your loss :(

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  8. Pam. You will be in my thoughts. All alzheimers runs strong in my family as well.. do you have information or links on what testing is available. Thinking of you. Keep standing strong. Roberta

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    1. Can you send me an email please. I will connect you to UCSF. Pmontap@gmail.com

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    2. Rvaldez0977@yahoo.com. thank you Pam. Looking forward to reading
      And getting more information on alzheimers.

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    3. Rvaldez0977@yahoo.com. thank you Pam. Looking forward to reading
      And getting more information on alzheimers.

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  11. dinahh@att.net. please send any extra, aside info Thank You!

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  12. Good choice to blog. Hang in there. You might also check out www.dementiamentors.org

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