I had a scary experience last night – terrifying actually. I had driven about 7 hours and I was exhausted. I stopped at a mall that had a Barnes and Noble and some restaurants, figuring I could unwind a bit before hitting my hotel.
Standing at the checkout desk to pay, I swiped my shiny new credit card through the machine and it asked me for my PIN. This has never happened in the US before and I panicked. OMG I have no idea what the PIN is on that card. I only use it while travelling. I search my phone thinking that I must have put it in my notes – nope. (As it turns out, it WAS in my notes, I was just to panicked to see it)
A line-up is forming behind me and I am starting to sweat. I have left my other US card at home, intending to travel lightly.I hand over my Canadian Visa (damn the extra charges) and stare blankly at the screen as it asks for my PIN. I use this card almost daily. It is my business credit card. I know this PIN like I know my own name but do you think I can recall it?
In that moment, I am my father, my grandmother, and every other person that I know with a dementia related disease. I am terrified. I literally want to throw myself on the floor and curl in a ball. I want to run. I am terrified and I cannot figure out how to use this card. I cannot, for the life of me, come up with the PIN number and I am frustrated to no end. It is a horrible feeling – the blankness of my brain in that moment.
I thought about this a lot last night as I drifted off to sleep. I was telling myself “It’s ok. You were tired. You hadn’t eaten all day. It’s a fluke’ trying not to think of the other times little things like this have happened.
I am 46 years old for crying out loud, much too young for this.
I’m sure that’s what my father was telling himself at 52.
The thing is this. I don’t live my father’s life.
I don’t make my father’s health choices.
I don’t have my father’s stressors and coping mechanisms.
I have chosen differently.
I exercise, I eat well, I rarely consume animal products. I watch my sugar, gluten, and alcohol. I support my health with natural medicines. I supplement my diet. I’m doing a lot of the right things yet still I wonder……
Do you have something in your family history that you feel may be inevitably coming at you? Think again. According to those in the field of epigenetics, family history may count for as little as 30% of what genes express themselves, over time.
Dr. Mercola has this to say “You’ve probably heard the debate of “nature vs. nurture” … meaning, is it the genetic code you received at conception or the environment in which you were raised that most influences your future health? The answer is both … but your actions, lifestyle and even your thoughts may have the most sway … and nothing is set in stone. Allow me to explain …
This experience got me to thinking about the number of times we become frustrated with someone taking (what we deem as) too long at the checkout counter. How many times do we rush someone trying to figure out what they need to grab at the grocery store, or in the pharmacy. What about when we see someone struggling to follow signs in a building? These are all invitations to help. If you’ve yet to take a dementia training and you work with the public, your local Alzheimers Society probably offers training at no cost to you. Dementia is a big issue that’s not going away anytime soon. Let’s all get educated on how we can show kindness and understanding when someone is feeling that terror of a basic task not coming readily to them.