FAMILY

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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Driving is a precious gift

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday. Ours was wonderful and filled with love and laughter.

Today something very special and exciting happened. I passed my driving test!!! I only missed two questions on the written test and after my face to face interview I was approved to drive for another 12 months😁 I can't tell you how happy I feel right now.  I had prepared myself for the worse, knowing that if I couldn't drive anymore I would still survive.  We have many Uber drivers here and the grocery store and Starbucks is right down the street. I knew I could also ride my bike and continue to have freedom to go where I want to go, but having my own car and driving myself is much better than having to schedule things, or ask others to drive me around.

I'm so happy and feel a weight lifted off of me. This test was hanging over me and I'm glad that it's over.  I honestly was prepared to lose my license and I prepared my brain to stay calm, not to cry, or be sad.  I was doing positive affirmations, praying and meditating about it, knowing that whatever the outcome was, I would deal with it. And I am dealing with it with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. I love hearing from you and I appreciate all the love from around the world.

Have a great day and God bless you all💜

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The season of Thanksgiving

Hi again.  I had a good week. One of my best friends that I grew up with in Modesto came to visit me and it was so wonderful to see her and talk, laugh and cry about the crazy things we did when we were younger.

Boy, am I glad there was no Facebook back then 😉Love you Andi!

Bob and I also had a good visit with my doctor at UCSF in San Francisco.  She is always so pleasant and seems happy to see me. I am grateful for that.  We talked quite a bit about all the research that is going on, and the many clinical trials.  Unfortunately there are so many variables with Alzheimer's that the scientists are trying every possible strategy. There is the issue with Tau protein and Beta Amyloid plaques. The plaque is thought to cause the brain cells to die. But recent studies have shown that the the presence of tau is a better predictor of AD (Alzheimer's Disease).  And the more tau deposits you have, the more your memory is effected.

I was able to see my PET/CT scans when I was given my diagnosis in July of this year. The slides clearly showed quite a bit of RED on my scans. Red shows where the tau is in your brain. There's also the issue of genetic markers, APOE-3 and 4,  I have the APOE-4 gene but I'm not sure what role that has played in my disease. The good news is my type of AD is not hereditary and although Danielle & Kristen could still develop AD, it won't be because of my genes.

I share all this with you because I want you to be aware that the specialists are trying every possible way to come up with a cure. My doctor spent time discussing all the different theories with us. She also discussed the importance of having 'healthy' volunteers participate in clinical trials.  And how placebo's play a role in the trial. If I am selected for the Roche/Genetech clinical trial with a drug called crenezumab, I won't know if I am getting the placebo or the actual drug.  I will share more details on how that goes in December. My first appointment with them is November 30th.

Back to Thanksgiving......I am so thankful for my friends and family, and for the outpouring of love and support I receive from the Alzheimer's Association. I am thankful that Bob and I will be with his sisters, niece and family this year, and that my brother and sister in law will be there too! I'm also extremely excited and thankful that I will be able to see my mom's side of the family in Fresno for a Geary family reunion after Thanksgiving. My sister and her husband will be there, along with my two daughters and their significant others, and my cousins and their kids!

I'm thankful for the random acts of kindness, and texts and Facebook posts that you all shower me with. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my journey with you, and for the blessings of gratitude and abundant living, the power of meditation and prayer. I am grateful for Bob and his unconditional love and support. He is my rock.

I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving season and I hope you enjoy your family and friends and continue to spread light into the world.  Yoko Ono once said "You change the World by being yourself".  Let us all be REAL this Thanksgiving season and enjoy each other.

Attached is a place mat that Mikey made for me last year! What a sweetie he is💗

With love & peace to you all.....

Sunday, November 13, 2016

How I knew something was wrong.....The 10 warning signs

Many of you have either called, texted or sent me emails regarding my diagnosis. THANK YOU for your support and your love💜  Almost everyone I've spoken with has asked me how I knew that something was wrong, and to explain my symptoms.

Let me start with sharing the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's -- these are important for all of you to be aware of:
  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood or personality
I was experiencing #1 on a daily basis: Extreme memory loss. I was struggling at work with all the new technology and the information that I was reading. I was unable to remember conversations I was having with my staff and others which caused me extreme stress. I took constant notes and then had to read them over and over again so that I would appear to have recalled our conversations.  I worked from home and had 'post it' notes all over my computer with reminder notes.  In addition to that, Bob (my husband), would have to constantly repeat himself and I repeatedly asked him things, such as where we were going to dinner. I have been studying Spanish for over a year and am still only 5% fluent. That is not normal. What is considered NORMAL is when you occasionally forget something but remember it later.  

I also have issues with solving problems and planning.  I used to be in charge of our bills and the checkbook. Last year I became overwhelmed with this. Something that I used to love doing was beyond my comprehension.  I couldn't keep things organized, I was the vacation planner too, and the one who made all of our hotel and airline reservations. But everything I did seemed to take so much effort.  I had to plan my day and keep track of all my work issues nightly. At the end of each day I would go through my notes and read what I had written so I could figure out what action items were due to following day.  I tried to help with planning our trip to Nashville a few weeks ago but Bob took over and now I am happy to let him do these things.  It's not easy to admit that I can't do it, but I don't want to make a mistake or book a flight on the wrong day. What is considered NORMAL is making occasional errors balancing a check book. 

The third sign ties in with what I previously mentioned. I was having difficulty with familiar tasks and did leave the burner on once, and the oven on once or twice. And as I mentioned, I was really struggling at work but was able to manage my team and do the hiring because those skills are in my long term memory. Coaching and mentoring is my passion and I'm so grateful I was able to continue to work until May of this year.  I also cannot add or subtract in my head, and struggle a little bit when I do it on paper. What is considered NORMAL is occasionally needing help with familiar tasks. 

I have not had any issues yet with time or place, other than I don't know the date or what day it is. But I attribute that to not working and not looking at a calendar that often. I'm also still doing well visually and spatially.

I do struggle sometimes and have problems with writing words. I am writing in a journal now. I try to write at least two or three times a day and jot down my thoughts and feelings. It helps me keep track of my sleep issues and also how I'm feeling each day.  I find myself struggling with how to spell things. You would laugh if you saw some of the words I can't spell!  I can normally come up with the right word when I'm speaking, but not always. What is considered NORMAL is sometimes not knowing the right word.

Misplacing things is probably one of the most frustrating symptoms. I have learned to just let it go, and hope that I will find what I lost at a later time.  Having the right attitude has really helped me stay positive.  What is considered NORMAL is misplacing something from time to time and then finding it.

The rest of the warning signs: decreased judgment, withdrawal and mood changes have not affected me yet.  

I now ask all of you to take a look at the 10 warning signs on the Alzheimer's site (www.alz.org) and pay attention to what you are experiencing. Many of you have mentioned symptoms and concerns and I'm begging you to talk to your doctor and get tested if you think you need it.  As I mentioned before, early detection is key.  And please message me or post a comment below if you want more information or would like to talk.

God bless you all💕

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The joys of travel....

It's a beautiful crisp day here in Northern California. The sun is out and the sky is blue. I slept pretty well and I am grateful for that.  We had a wonderful week in Nashville Tennessee but traveling seems to take a toll on me these days.

I used to travel almost every other week for my job. Most trips were short and I enjoyed them and enjoyed time with my colleagues & my team. At Intel I got used to hopping on airplanes whenever it was necessary and didn't think much about it.  Now it's not so easy.  The early flight meant that I would have an early wake up. I have a hard time falling asleep so getting up at 5:30am is not my favorite. But we were heading to Nashville for the Country Music Awards, so I was beyond excited!

The flight out wasn't so bad, we arrived in the evening and went straight to the hotel. We met up with one of my best buddies, Laura, and her husband John. We all had a wonderful evening. The next morning however, I felt horrible. I was very tired and my typical dull headache was intense.  So, instead of pushing myself, I slept and rested until I felt well enough to function. Being with my Intel family motivated and inspired me. Bob and I were there because of them (thank you Connie) and their kindness to include us at the event. I'm very grateful for that and for the chance to see my friends and their spouses again.

It's very frustrating to travel across the US and then not be able to enjoy all the sights and activities we had planned. But I am not going to let Alzheimer's define me or keep me from my dreams. Attending the CMA's has been on my bucket list for many years. I've been invited to attend before but said no. I'm not saying no to anything I want to do anymore!! Even if it means I take a day or two to acclimate my body after the flight or time zone.

Thankfully I felt great on Wednesday, the day of the CMA's. It was the 50th annual award ceremony and the Bridgestone Arena was packed! I was smiling head to toe and overcome with gratitude. The line up was incredible. We saw Alabama, Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé, Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill.......just to name a few. Our seats were pretty far away but we didn't care. We were there...in person...at the CMA's in Nashville. The home of country music💕

The next day Bob had to leave very early for meetings back in California. I went to the airport with Laura her husband and they made sure I got checked in and to my gate. I think I could have handled that alone, but I'm so grateful for their love and support and patience! The rest of the trip went well until I tried to get on the tram that would take me to Bart. My bag got on, but I didn't!!! I was a little panicked and extremely tired. I wasn't sure what to do, but at that moment I knew that I probably should not be traveling alone. I eventually asked for help (after a few tears) and one of the station managers found my bag and I got on Bart without any issues.

As I try to analyze and think about what I did, it comes down to judgement. I knew the Bart train was about to leave and instead of waiting for the next train, I took a chance and tried to defy the odds. Was that bad judgement? Has my judgement declined because of Alzheimer's? Or was I just tired and anxious to get home?

I'm not sure I will ever know the answer, but I do know that my decision making is not as effective as it used to be. And that I need to be smart and ask for help.....something I don't always like to do.

It's a long journey and every day I learn more about what living with this disease is like. But as I mentioned before I won't let it define me and God willing, we will be in Nashville again next year💜