Suzanne’s Alzheimer’s Story – Her mom “wakes up”
Shared by Suzanne – October 2009
See follow up from November 2009 below
Learn more about these stories of Alzheimer’s patients who “wake up” experiencing lucidity and comprehension, able to share again.
My mom was diagnosed three years ago and for the past 8 months has been non communicative. Her conversation was limited to nods, yes, no or same. Her Neuropsychologist indicated that the disease was progressing quickly. All of the medications were not slowing the progression as anticipated. It was difficult to see her at almost a vegetative state.
It was 9/28 and my mom and I were invited to eat at my daughters. While sitting in her dining room, my mom commented on how pretty the room was. Surprised but shrugging it off, we went home. Then it began and my husband and I could not ignore how my mom actually started a conversation, joking, laughing and asked to stay home the next day. Stated that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself etc. The conversation continued and I hated to go to bed. We finally did and I woke expecting her to have reverted back but NO, she was alert and lucid. It was like a miracle. I hated to leave her but I did take her to day care. I arrived at work, excited and telling my story when the phone rang and the day care asked if I could pick her up as she was ill. When I picked her up, she explained all of her symptoms clearly, dizziness, nausea and blurry vision. I immediately drove to her PCP’s office and after an examination which eliminated any reason for the symptoms, he ordered a cat scan and scheduled an emergency appointment with her eye surgeon. We did both during which my mom, although she continued to vomit and suffered dizziness , she remained attentive, kept a conversation as if “she never had Alzheimer’s ”. To us, it was a miracle. She talked about things that we had told her yet at the time, she was never able to respond. It made me feel that all this time, she could hear us, understood and simply stored the information due to the fact that her brain could not process the response. Her brain scan was normal and her blurry vision was due to scarring from a past cataract surgery which neither explained the phenomenon we were experiencing. We talked and shared stories late into the evening and when we woke the next morning, I could tell by her sleeping face that she had gone back even before she woke. We had lost her again and it was very hard.
I called her Neuropsychologist immediately and shared my experience. He indicated that this was not something he had heard of and to keep an eye on any obvious changes.
I am not certain why this occurred or if her illness was in any way related. We now know that she does understand and that sharing stories is not a waste. She is trapped but still very much alive and in her own way sharing our lives.
…………. November 2009 Follow Up……………
My mom had a second awakening. It began last Tuesday evening which was 10/28 (almost one month to the day of her first experience) and lasted exactly the same amount of time (approximately 36 hours). Her symptoms were exact, very sick to her stomach and then she became lucid. She was as clear as a bell and was no longer ill. The first time, I did not share her experience with my brothers or anyone else who did not interact with my mom on a day to day basis as I did not know what to think and did not want to break the spell. I expected that this may be her time as I have often heard that ill patients are known to get better right before death. This time, I shared and in return, my mom was able to share life again. She spoke with my brothers, and a few of my nieces over the phone and I had my children over for dinner on Wednesday evening. It was amazing to hear her talk, ask questions, and react to what she was being to what was being said.
My mom carried on conversations with everyone she spoke to and brought up information that we had talked to her or in front of her about without response. It is clear that she is storing what she is hearing but can’t seem to communicate. Part of me feels sad and afraid that she knows that she is trapped and part of me is hoping that she does not realize. The one piece that I do believe is that there is hope. Maybe not for my mom, but Alzheimers is a crippling disease that many people will become debilitated with at some point in their lives and wouldn’t it be wonderful to find a key and offer hope.