A Timely Reminder of How Fortunate We Are

Helen Keller is reputed to have said, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” I feel that way right now. I am writing from Whole Foods where I came after meeting with someone for two hours. I had planned to go straight to the Y, but I really would not have had sufficient time before getting back home to relieve Mary. This gives me a moment to say something about my meeting.

The man with whom I met is a church acquaintance. A friend had mentioned that his daughter was having memory problems that sounded like early onset Alzheimer’s. She suggested that I connect with him. On Monday, I sent him an email telling him that I had heard we might be experiencing similar situations. I asked if he would be interested in getting together sometime. He responded shortly thereafter and arranged for today’s meeting.

I was prepared to hear a very familiar story. Instead, I learned that he and his wife have been struggling for two years to get a diagnosis for their daughter’s memory problems. They have consulted a variety of expert experts in dementia and other neurological problems without success. The initial neurological examinations and tests at a well-known out-of-state hospital found no signs of dementia. Subsequently, they have consulted with other experts who are unable to provide a clear diagnosis. In the meantime, the daughter is on disability, and the insurance will soon stop paying her because they have not been able to find a physical cause. Her policy doesn’t cover psychological problems.

While I have no clinical expertise to hazard a guess as to the source of the problem, I can say that her symptoms sound very much like the ones that Kate has had. Her memory is poor, and she is no longer able to operate her computer that was an essential part of her job.

In addition to the memory issues, she went through a difficult divorce prior to this. To further complicate the situation, she and her daughter, who is between 20 and 25, are not getting along. There are other issues as well.

After hearing him talk for just almost an hour, I didn’t want to tell him anything about Kate and me. He felt bad about talking so much, and I gave him a brief summary. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him a lot. I thought that couldn’t help him and might make him feel worse. I did come away believing once again that Kate and I are very lucky people.