Letters to the Children - June's Alzheimer's - 4th Year - December 2000
- Published on Friday, 14 May 2010 01:55
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
June first noted her short term memory problems in 1997 and discussed them with her doctor of Geriatrics during her annual physical examination in December 1997. He told June what she was experiencing was not normal for her age. He made and appointment for June to have a series of tests at the University of Minnesota.
The University report in late January of 1998 indicated a diagnosis of:
"Early Stage Alzheimer's...fairly severe recent memory impairment...grossly intact intellectual and executive abilities...remains fairly functinal and to some extent is able to compensate for the memory problems..."
A later examination at Mayo Clinic verified the University diagnosis and added the findings of an MRI that indicated "Atrophy of Hippocampus" which is the memory control center that processes all new memories...I recalled vividly the comments of one of the ladies at Mayo who was counseling June and I...she said we normally could expect a few years of good quality of life before the Alzheimer's would take over! I determined to make the most of those years!
While our life would never be the same. June managed to keep the disease at bay and remained in early stages of the disease through the year 2003. June did very well during the period of years from 1998-2003. We celebrated a happy 50th wedding anniversary in 2002
Our strategy was not to dwell on June's sickness and instead we decided to make the best of June's remaining good years...We were very active and did the many things we had previously put off doing...we made out our "Bucket List"...we did extensive traveling including a final goodbye trip to London during their Sherlock Holmes Festival in 1999. We literally completed all items on our "Bucket" list...in looking back I have no regrets other than June's diagnosis of Alzheimer's...we did not spend out time with daily reminder's of June's sickenss by involving our selves in such things as Memory Cafe's and support groups...there was plenty of time for that later when the disease took charge.
This series of letters by year of June's journey through Alzheimer's show how well June and I did during that time plus some disapointments and frustrations from my standpoint in the failures of the medical establishment... and goals that I was trying to achieve in later years, including my failed efforts to get June into some Vaccine trials in year 5...this turned out to be a blessing in disguise...
27 December 2000
TO: Dave, Dan, Sue and Julie
You are all aware that I have been trying to get Mom into the Mayo Clinic and specifically into their Alzheimer’s Center. Mayo is one of a half dozen designated Alzheimer’s Centers in the United States. They were the center that handled President Ronald Reagan's Alzheimer's disease through to termination. I sent each of you a letter back in late October outlining my problems with getting Mom in on a timely basis. You may recall that they indicated it would take from 6 mos. to a year to get an appointment.
In any event, either because of my persistence, my complaints, Ms. Melom’s (Mayo) efforts or God helped out, suddenly, almost out of the blue, on November 22nd, I received an appointment card from Mayo with a ton of forms to fill out. The appointment is for Monday 15 January 2001. We are going down on Sunday and stay over night at the nearby Hilton Hotel.
In addition to completing the forms, I forwarded a history of all of Mom's Medical problems over the years as best as I could re-construct them. I also provided a history of her Alzheimer’s condition as I know it and attached the initial report from the University of Minnesota.
I don’t know what help Mom will get at Mayo but at least it will involve people who specialize in this area. I am hopeful that Mom can get into the research unit as a patient sometime soon. Her initial visit will be with the Neurology Department. At least that is my goal. If she can be saved, only the research department can do it.
Editorial Note: At the end of the third year (2000), June was doing well and was still in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Her main handicap was her loss of short term memory. This caused June some confusion and mix up at times, but overall, it was very manageable. This was an inconvenience that was perhaps easier for me than for June to adjust to or accommodate. Overall, June was upbeat most of the time and made the most and the best of her existing state of health. Her long term memory seemed to be intact. We were using this time to the our best advantage for travel and getting the most out of life. I felt that by keeping June socially active and making her life a fun time, I could keep her mind off of the dark Alzheimer's clouds on the horizon. We had previously, in late 1999, made our last trip to London (our 8th) to visit our friends the Bruce's who lived in Bexley, Kent south of London. We also scheduled the trip to coincide with the Sherlock Holme's Festival that was taking place at that same time.
In 2000 we were able to visit our daughter Susan and our grandson Daniel in Cary, NC over June's birthday in November We went to Maui, Hawaii for the first time in January 2000. We took a trip to Branson, MO in early December 2000 for the Christmas Tour. This was a trip that we had often talked about but never seemed to get around to doing. We also took in all the forensic science conferences for the year 2000. We went to Reno, Nevada in February 2000 for the American Academy of Forensic Science conference. The Association of Firearms Examiners in St. Louis, MO in June of 2000 and the Minnesota State Division of the IAI at Duluth, MN in September 2000. Also in September, we attended June's annual Colfax Class of 1946 Luncheon, at the White-Tail Country Club at Colfax, WI. In October we attended the International Association of Blood Stain Pattern Analysts meeting in Tucson, AZ. June had many good friends in this group. Early December June and I visited some newly discovered "Candler" relatives in Rice Lake, WI area. When I look back at this schedule, I see very few gaps in time that were unused When not traveling, we dined out frequently and made use of our church sponsored events. Our detailed travel log for a very busy year is shown below.
Christmas has now become a hard time for Mom. That is in spite of the fact that Mom loves Christmas. She has said: "I wish Christmas came twice a year". It is however, now become a time of the year that Mom has been reduced to tears more than once! Mom does not think that she is getting things done right or done fast enough or that she does not participate like she wants to anymore! I am always glad when Christmas is over. I certainly appreciate Julie's hosting the event this year for the family in her own home. Mom and I are helping with providing the food, but Julie is doing all the work.
Mom really liked the 2d Edition (2000) of her Story booklet and has reviewed it at least a couple times. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) I am however surprised that I received almost no feedback from any of the grandchildren. They each received a copy and with one exception, there was not any response. Maybe in later years it will have more value to them. It was primarily intended for them. In contrast, I also sent copies to a few of her old school friends and relatives. From them, the response with just the reverse. All responded and many responses were highly emotional. Here are a few examples:
“Thank you – thank you for the “June Book: I’d read and cry and read some more. It was the June I always remembered.”
“What a wonderful book! I am so emotional about it I can hardly express all I feel. This is exactly the way June is and it is so nice to have it all in this book.”
“Thank you so much for sending me that book. I was so thrilled I sat right down and read every word – then I read it again. I love it! We could have talked to each other every day for the rest of our lives and you never would have told me that much about her life – it’s wonderful."
Editorial Note: The book on June is now in the 4th edition as the online version. (It is continually under construction and expansion.) It has been greatly enlarged and expanded with the addition of multiple pictures. The 3rd edition (2002) in hard copy was 30 pages long, with 30 topics or chapters and with and additional 5 pages of illustrations. The online version with expanded text, one additional topic and a great many photo illustrations, probably represents at least 150 pages or more.
Click on this link for the current online edition: "Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother".
June and Stan’s travel Log for 2000
2000: January 17-25th – Wailea, Maui, HI, -.Outrigger Wailea Resort.
2000: February 22-26th – Reno, NV – Ascuaga’s Nugget Resort, – American Academy of Forensic Science Conferences.
2000: June 11-16th – St. Louis, MO – Regal Riverfront Hotel – Association of Firearms and Tool Mark Examiners conferences. (Side trip tour of Missouri’s Wine country.)
2000: June 23-25th - Chetek/Rice Lake, WI - Tilden and Irene Orton's 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration.
2000: August 5-7th - Colfax/Bloomer, WI - June's Colfax Class of 1946, 55th Anniversary Celebrfation - Dinner - Ruby's Roadhouse, Bloomer, WI.
2000: - September 20-23rd – Duluth, MN – Radisson Inn – ,MN Division of the International Association for Identification conferences.
2000: September 29-30 - October 1st – Colfax, WI – Bloomer Inn – June’s 1946 Colfax Class Reunion. (White-Tail Country Club Luncheon.)
2000: October 3-8th – Tucson, AZ – Hilton Tucson East Hotel - International Association of Blood Stain Pattern Analysts conferences.
2000: October 19-22nd - Rice Lake, WI - June visiting her Sisters Betty and Lyndell.
2000: October 30-31st - Rice Lake, WI - June and I Visited the Candler relatives.
2000: November 7-13th – Raleigh/Cary, NC – June and I Visited our daughter Susan and Grandson Daniel.
2000: December 7-12th – Branson, MO – Atrium Inn, Branson Christmas Show. Overnights at Holiday Inn, Olathe, KS en-route and return.
Photo Notes: Top (1.) or first photo was taken at Maui, Hawaiiin January 2000. June had just taken a helicopter ride around the island of Maui. (2.) The second photo is June's name tag for the American Academy of Forensic Science conference in Reno, Nevada, February 2000. (3.) The third photo was taken on Lake Tahoe, Reno, Nevada in February 2000 while attending the American Academy of Forensic Science conference. (4.) The fourth photo is of June with two of her class-mate friends at the White Tail Country Club in Colfax, WI. The event was the annual Colfax Class of 1946 Luncheon in late September 2000. (5..) The fifth photo immediately below was taken in the home of Irma (Candler) Losey (my cousin) at Rice Lake, WI in late October 2000.
After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on: