Monday, February 28, 2022

Double or Nothing

I was surprised when I emptied my coffeemaker one evening to prepare my morning coffee. I pulled out the coffee filter and beneath it, I found its twin. That had never happened before. I remembered opening a new can of coffee and realized I couldn’t smell it. I asked Harold if the coffee had any smell and he affirmed that it did.

I must have filled the filter before I wandered away and then added another filter on my return. That was my bad, especially since I was getting low on coffee filters.


The next day, after a restless night, I wandered to the pot to get my morning coffee. I put creamer in my cup and started filling the cup—with hot water. I lifted the cover and instead of the double filled filters of the day before, I had no coffee at all.


“Double or Nothing” is something we often think of in gambling, but it can be true in life as well. Sometimes people take a big risk to reach a lofty goal, but if they fail, they have nothing.


After a marathon 16 days of recording and watching the Olympic Games, I saw a lot of double or nothing attempts. Some of those “games” looked more like death-defying gambles than competitive sports. People collapsed at the finish lines after depleting their bodies of their energy supply. I guess it worked out for the three who finished first because they accomplished a medal for their efforts, but what about all the others who gained nothing but the experience and wear and tear on the only body they have.


Of course, life is mostly a gamble anyway. Jim had double strikes against him. In Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange and situations that left him in physical pain and emotionally disturbed. The combination left him with PTSD, a few short letters that meant the difference between a fulfilling life and a life of turmoil.


So if we consider Vietnam as one strike, the second strike was being unlucky enough to develop dementia at 49 years old. What are the odds that an intelligent man who had mad mechanical skills could develop a brain disorder that would wipe out nearly fifty years of learning?


Jim was fortunate to have a family that loved him and cared for him when he needed it. Life stole his memories from him, but memories of him did not end when he died. Jim doubled the love in our lives, and nothing can take that away from us.


Copyright © February 2022 by L.S. Fisher


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Life Is a Journey

We go through life making plans, dreaming dreams, searching for truth, and existing through countless days, weeks, and years of mundane everyday existence. We work, we play, love, argue, and overcome our disappointments.

That’s the way life goes—on and on, where it stops, nobody knows. One of life’s biggest blessings is that we don’t know what the future holds in store for us.


We couldn’t enjoy the present if we worried too much about the future. Sometimes I marvel at how some people overcome adversity to see the rainbow while it is still raining. One of my distant cousins recently found out that the cancer she had fought so valiantly was going to win the fight. She began to post some of her memories online as short little quips. She brought laughter to her friends and family with her stories and family photos. It was a thoughtful gift to leave us.


Living life to the fullest during trying times can be one of the biggest hurdles we will ever have to jump. Throughout the world, lives have been altered as we waded our way through the murky times of the pandemic. In this world of free and overabundant information and misinformation, we are divided into alternate universes. People have chosen a side and refuse to budge. Our society has forgotten how to pull together to reach a common goal.


I looked through decades of family pictures to post a memorial for my brother-in-law who died from Covid. As I looked through the photos, I smiled and I cried. Our family has suffered great loss during the past two years. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart attack, Covid, and even a broken heart has taken our loved ones from us.


I have made several video tributes during the past two years. Most of the time, I find enough photos in my digital files. Sometimes, I look through old albums and boxes of pictures to grab a few old photos to scan. This was the first time I went through all of them.


I had to smile when I saw a photo of me when I was nine years old. I have the same exact hair-do now as I had then! I smiled bigger when I saw a photo of Jim on top of our car. We had been arguing, and he jumped on the top of the car and said he wouldn’t come down until I said I loved him. I hopped out of the car and took his photo. There it is in the album, a reminder of Jim’s quirky personality.


A few nights ago, I struggled with my alternative personality. It started with the photos and continued when I went outside to walk the dog. The weather was unseasonably mild so I breathed in the fresh air. I looked up into a universe of twinkling stars and a bright, yellow moon. It made me sad and nostalgic when I thought about people and places I will never see again in my lifetime. The feeling persisted throughout the night and this morning. I felt like jumping in my car and taking off for parts unknown. I wanted to forget the sorrow and the mountain of things I should be doing.


Instead, I drank some coffee and played a game on my Kindle. After breakfast, I moved my PC to my office downstairs. It felt good to be back in my space after a year away from it.


Sometimes we have to glance over our shoulder at our past in order to embrace the present and the future. Life can be complicated and sometimes tedious. Life can also be joyous and fulfilling. Life is a journey, and we need to keep moving forward until we reach the destination.


Copyright © February 2022 by L.S. Fisher


Thursday, February 10, 2022

Zoom District Meeting


One thing I’ve learned throughout the past two years is that when you can’t meet in person, Zoom brings a group together for important meetings.


Today we met with Janna Worsham from Congresswoman Hartzler’s office via Zoom. Almost like magic, a dozen people met to discuss Alzheimer’s federal priorities.


Our group was made up of an entire cast of talented, knowledgeable volunteers and staff. This multifaceted approach was a unique way of celebrating the services and public involvement to assist those living with Alzheimer’s and their care partners.


The meeting today concentrated on two important “asks.”


1.         The FDA has approved the first Alzheimer’s treatment that addresses the underlying biology of the disease. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has drafted a decision that would limit coverage to those who are enrolled in clinical trials. The other option would mean to pay out of pocket. If CMS makes this unprecedented limitation on coverage of an FDA approved drug, it could affect other promising Alzheimer’s drugs close behind in the research pipeline. We appreciate that Congresswoman Hartzler has already shown her support for full access to FDA approved Alzheimer’s treatments.


2.         Research is key to finding an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s and other dementias. We are asking Congress to approve an additional $289 million for Alzheimer’s research at NIH for Fiscal Year 2022. WE are also asking they approve $20 for implementation of the BOLD Act.


I know that when Jim was diagnosed with an Alzheimer’s type of dementia, I held out hope that an effective treatment would become available in his lifetime. Our family made the decision to enroll Jim in a Phase III drug trial. This gave him access to a drug that was not available otherwise. Unfortunately, side effects caused us to withdraw Jim from the study, and the drug was never approved for the general public.


For many years during the Walk to End Alzheimer’s we carried four different colored pinwheel flowers. The Orange flower means you support the cause. A yellow flower means you are a caregiver to someone who has Alzheimer’s. The blue flower means you are living with Alzheimer’s. I always chose the purple flower because I lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s.


A few years ago, a single white flower was added to symbolize the first survivor. The white flower could be named Hope until its name is changed to Cure.

I will continue my mission to Zoom, Walk, Advocate, and cheerlead until we find that elusive cure for Alzheimer’s disease. I look forward to the day when hundreds of Alzheimer’s survivors carry white flowers at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.


Copyright © February 2022 by L.S. Fisher