Monday, March 11, 2019

As Time Goes By

Well, yesterday we made the big switch to Daylight Saving Time. At my age, any change isn’t easy, and I sure miss that hour.

It seems as if time goes by quicker each day. I only have my Christmas decorations as far as the landing, waiting to go into their storage boxes. My snowmen are still sitting on the ledge although, gee, it hasn’t snowed in a week. Our first almost-spring rain melted the last of the snow in the yard as long ago as yesterday. Where has the time gone? St. Patty’s day is less than a week away and Easter is on the horizon.

I believe that it is the busyness of life that hides more hours than the one we lost between Saturday and Sunday. Juggling several projects at one time means I’m constantly putting out fires. Sometimes, I make progress and feel like I’m attacking the fires with a high-pressure fire department hose. More often than not, I look at the growing to-do list and might as well be beating back the flames with a gunnysack, and one that isn’t even wet.

Where has the time gone? I look at the year 2019 and realize how vividly I can remember events of fifty years ago. This is the year of a golden anniversary that will never happen. Jim’s life was cut short by an Alzheimer’s type of dementia—a disease I had never heard of—corticobasal ganglionic degeneration.

CBGD is a rare disease that attacks the cerebral cortex and the basal ganglia in the brain. The onset usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 70 with an average duration of six or seven years. After he looked at Jim’s autopsy report, his neurologist explained that CBGD is a movement disorder. Initial symptoms are usually difficulty walking because of stiffness, shakiness, or balance problems. This is usually followed with problems with speech and comprehension.

For some reason, Jim’s earliest noticeable symptoms were with memory and speech. Early in the disease, he developed aphasia from the damage to his brain. He had trouble speaking and understanding words. Jim also had alien limb syndrome, especially in his right hand. He had to have his little finger amputated due to infection caused from clinching the hand he forgot how to use. He also had ideomotor apraxia (IMA) that resulted in his feet appearing to stick to the floor causing him to lose his balance.

I was relieved to learn that CBGD is almost always sporadic and not inherited. A variant in the tau gene is associated with a predisposition to CBGD, meaning it can occur more often in some families. However, not all people with CBGD have the tau gene variant, and not all people with the variant develop CBGD.

Jim passed away in 2005 after ten years of living with CBGD. Next month marks the fourteenth year anniversary of his death. Where did the years go? Sometimes, it seems a different lifetime, a different me. Other times, it takes my breath away as the realization that he is forever gone batters my heart anew. The pain is physical in those moments and I can almost feel life slipping away.

How did seconds turn into minutes, and minutes into hours? How did twenty-four of those hours turn into days? How did the days turn into years? How many years will you and I have in a lifetime? The questions remain the same, but the answers are the biggest mystery of all.

Copyright © March 2019 by L.S. Fisher

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