Thursday, January 12, 2012


Alan was 30 when we got married and was so forgetful we called him the absent minded professor. One of the warning signs: When the person keeps consistently losing things. But Alan had always been that way. Every morning all the kids and I had to go on an all-out search for either Alan's belt, or his wallet, or his notebook. EVERY day. He was the most disorganized person I had ever met.

Another sign: Not being able to remember people's names. Alan always tried to call people by their name. I don't think I EVER saw him get one right.

Warning sign: Total lack of empathy. We started dating when he was 23. Thinking back I remember many times thinking he never had ANY empathy for anyone. He wasn't mean, he just didn't seem to have "feelings". He would get angry at his dad but never expressed any anger towards me. He seemed to be mostly lacking emotions, but then he had started using drugs when he was young.

He also started drinking in college and was a full blown alcoholic by the time I met him. I didn't know that. I knew he drank a lot. But at that time I knew nothing about alcoholism. It was only after we married that I realized he was having blackouts when he drank. We married in 1981 and Alan sobered up 13 months later.

We did have lots of fun, but because some of his quirks, and even though we lived in the same house, we became emotionally estranged around 2003. He had always shown a lack of respect for other people's possessions. If it was in his house, it was his.

Around 2008 I could tell he would have been in my things while I was gone. He'd always deny it but since he never closed a drawer it was pretty obvious. By 2010 he would constantly rummage through all of my things while I was at work. He was driving me crazy. That's when I divorced him.   I finally had enough of what I was calling the disrespect and the lying. His response whenever I asked him if he had done something, it was always the same. "I don't remember." Or he would just outright lie. At least that was MY interpretation.

He walked in one day smiling and announced he had just gotten fired. I asked the obvious question. "Why?"

"I don't know," he said calmly.
"Alan, they had to tell you why", I said.
Same response and I knew I had be lied to again. "I don't think they told me. I forgot what they said."

Two months later same scenario. Walking in he announced he had lost his other job. Second verse, same as the first. This time his response, "I don't know but they said I should have called a supervisor."

At this point Alan was home all the time. He was searching for a job. He had to keep a list of every place he applied. The first place he tried was the local market.

A week later he said he was going job hunting. I asked where he was going to apply. "The (local market)." I told him he had done that the week before. He went there anyway because he had no memory of already going.

Third week - "I think I'm going up to (local market) today and apply for a job."

All of a sudden, Alan started following me all over the house. Strange because he had always been a loner and so had I. I couldn't leave the room to go to the bathroom that he wasn't right behind me. He would follow me to the kitchen and stand right there while I cooked. Where ever I went, he went. It was driving me out of my mind. I had no clue this was a symptom called "shadowing".

I told him to just stay home and take care of things while I worked and that would be a great help to me. He would do dishes. The problem was every time I started to cook dinner, I had to go on a search for my pans, my utensils, etc. I might find one pan in the cabinet with the bowls. I might find a utensil in the pantry with the food. This was the routine EVERY SINGLE TIME I had to cook a meal. When I'd ask where he put something, same answer. "I don't know."

He would do things that would end up with me screaming at him. He would just stand and look at me with this dumb looking smile on his face like I was being extremely amusing. I didn't realize this was a reaction because he didn't even hear or understand what I was saying.

He was starting to get a look in his eyes like the lights were all on but nobody was home. That's when I started doing some research about alzheimers. Alan had no money and I couldn't afford to take him to a doctor. He claimed to have insurance, but he didn't. He just remembered getting some at the first job where he was fired.

Alan had never been much of an "eater", but all of a sudden he began to go through a loaf of bread a day by squeezing it tightly into wads and eating it. He'd sneak into the spaghetti, maccaroni and noodles and eat them uncooked right out of the package. I would go in to cook a meal and everything I needed would have been eaten. If I went to the market and bought enough groceries for a week, he would start eating. Everything would be gone by the next day. And he was not gaining weight.

He would load the dishwasher, then forget he had just loaded it. All the dishes, glasses, cups and silverware would be put put back in the cabinet still dirty.

At one point a friend of mine who is an R.N. came to spend the night. During that visit she said "Something is wrong with Alan." If you talked to him, he would seldom answer. He never initiated a conversation or took part in one.

Alan was still sweet to me. He would make coffee of a morning and bring me a steaming cup.  I always enjoyed it and never even knew the cup was dirty until I got to the bottom of that cup. By then it was too late to worry about it.

Her next visit was a month later. "You've got to get him to a doctor. I can tell a big difference since I saw him a month ago." She blew a hole in my boat that was still hoping it was just Alan being his normal eccentric self.

Another nurse told me to make him an appointment at a local free clinic.  Alan didn't think anything was wrong. Me? I was convinced I was getting crazy as a bedbug.

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