Ch.60 Pat Tells Us about A Major Decision
Our family has begun weekly zoom sessions to lessen the isolation associated with Covid-19 safety precautions. This week’s session was attended by our daughter Jennifer, her husband Jeff and daughter Elizabeth; our son Joshua and his wife Patty; my cousin Burton; my niece Laura and her partner Glen; and my twin brother Don and his wife Randa.
Some weeks we choose a theme question to increase interest and variety. Tonight’s question was: What is one major positive decision have you made? Mine was to decide not to pursue a standard academic career and instead teach at an experimental college (Thomas Jefferson College, once part of Grand Valley State Colleges in Allendale, MI).
After I told the group about this decision, I asked Pat for one of hers. Here is what she said. “I decided after I received my diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia that I wouldn’t take it too seriously.” After all, Pat stated, I am still myself and not all that much has changed. She added that was why she became angry with me at times when I take her diagnosis too seriously.
I remember a care partner at one of our support groups once saying that Lewy Body was the worst affliction someone could ever have. Pat’s comment challenges that kind of depressive thinking.
I suppose you could call Pat’s frame of mind a kind of denial or minimization. But I think she’s doing something positive and healthy. Pat is refusing to give up or sink into despair. She’s treating Lewy Body the same way you might treat a gradually progressing arthritic condition: don’t pay a lot of attention to it and don’t let it stop you from doing what you normally do.
One of Pat’s questions to me when I mention that she has Lewy Body symptoms is “What do you mean? What symptoms?” She gets a little combative during these conversations; I had better be able to provide a very specific recent example of any particular symptom or else I should keep quiet. Now I understand better why Pat seems so determined. She is challenging not only me but Lewy Body itself to prove anything is wrong with her.
A diagnosis is not a person. A person has a diagnosis. That’s all it is. You don’t have to take it too seriously.
Pat’s comments on Pat Tells Us about A Major Decision.
My first comment is when I ask why you said I had Lewy Body symptoms your response is that my thinking is all screwed up or I don’t understand what normal thinking is I would have a tendency to dismiss your comment because I do know what normal thinking is and I do know when I’m thinking normally. I don’t think I live in a state where Lewy Body takes over and makes me think differently very often. I do all right and I feel very much like me. For example, now that I have been diagnosed with Lewy Body and I can’t drive although I resist the temptation to take off in my car and look for places I can enjoy nature, I handle that OK. I use the time with others driving to do the same thing and I don’t feel controlled or bad because I’m not allowed to drive the car despite the fact that I have never had a record of having accidents on the roadway.