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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"I'm Lost-Nobody Knows Me" August 20, 2013

There are moments in each of our lives, when we awake in unfamiliar surroundings or when we return from a long international flight for example that we momentarily do not know where we are. It takes a little bit of time to reorient ourselves to time, place and person.
My friend recently returned from a direct flight, with a  short stop in Houston, from Moscow to Phoenix. She reported having this experience not on the first morning back, but on the next, not even recognizing the sleep apnea-machine breathing of her husband lying next to her.

Imagine experiencing that disorientation every day, not only in the morning, but whenever you close your eyes for a short nap. You awaken with the awareness that you are alive and often with the recognition that you have a full bladder. On automatic pilot, you occasionally find your way to the bathroom. Sometimes, you re-enter your room and know where you are or you walk to the doorway and wander into the main room where there are others who greet you and call you by name . Other times, you continue to lie in bed until someone comes to help you begin the day.

You find yourself waking up seated in a recliner in front of the group television set. You watch the moving pictures. Someone comes to escort you to the lunch table and you say, "It's hard to follow," all of a sudden for a moment, you are aware that you have lost a skill.

And sometimes, during a visit from your spouse you have another lucid moment when you recognize how totally alone and lost you feel and for the moment are fully capable of expressing that feeling.

You are walking hand-in-hand with your spouse in front of the kitchen counter where you spend most of your day watching and interacting with the staff, you stop and say "I'm lost-nobody knows me."

This is the world of dementia.

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