She refused his favorite works, but so far has been swimming, rides in canoes and singing in a band. And all this without the aid of drugs.
In 2011, doctors diagnosed her with mild cognitive impairment: the deterioration of memory and mental performance. It is often a harbinger of Alzheimer’s disease – one of the most common forms of progressive dementia.
Last year, when she was 62 years old, changed the diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s.
Cynthia Huling Hummel became suspicious when lost on a familiar road. She is a Presbyterian pastor, and in that moment, hurried to the cemetery to say mass over the deceased. She called a friend to help her find the way – he thought the woman was joking. Cemetery in the city of just one, and it was there before!
“The warning signs began early, when I was 50 and I was preparing to defend my doctoral thesis. Most of the other applicants heart could Bang all the books that they read, I could have the strength to name three. I had the name of a single Professor did not know the name of my fellow students,” says Cynthia.
She went from one doctor to another, but no one could diagnose her. Alzheimer’s disease no one even knew existed for her, Cynthia is still young. She underwent neuropsychological scan, CT scan, MRI and spinal tap. One doctor blamed stress, other traumatic brain injury acquired in childhood, the third – menopause and lack of sleep.
Once the new doctor asked Cynthia to list all the books of the old Testament that as a pastor she knew by heart. She began to sing a song by which children are taught to memorize the books but could not finish.
“Tears were rolling down my face. How could I be a pastor if I didn’t remember the names of books of the Bible? It’s as if the doctor did not remember the names of bones in the human body,” says Cynthia.
When the doctors finally diagnosed her with mild cognitive impairment, she was 57 years old. Oddly enough, the first thing that felt Cynthia was a relief:
“Of course, I was sad, but at least I know that not crazy. Yes, there are physical changes occurring in my brain that cause memory problems. A relief it was to know that I’m not making this up”.
To some extent, the diagnosis, Cynthia was expected from this illness died her uncle, Alzheimer’s disease suffered by her mother.
As a pastor, she was faced with lots of human stories that had to remember. Cynthia was the best I could: I wrote myself emails, leave voice mails and make numerous notes.
“But I could not interrupt the confession and say – wait a minute, I’ll write it down. I couldn’t record every sermon, not to be repeated. It was very tiring,” she recalls.
In the end the doctor asked her to leave work and to formalize disability. Cynthia agreed, although this decision was really hard for her.
“I was mad at God. Why me, why now? I worked so hard, I was studying for a doctorate, and now I have to quit. But a wise woman got me wise words, saying that God cleans my plate, so I could do something else.”
In the local newspaper she saw an advertisement for eight-week courses under the auspices of the Alzheimer’s Association. Cynthia decided to listen, and after a while she began to speak at events of the Association. She talked to groups of patients, told the media his story and his understanding of the disease. But most importantly, it could support those who needed it.
In the past six years, Cynthia participates in clinical research to develop drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Every year, scientists are studying the changes that have occurred in my brain and compare them with the results of my cognitive tests. I don’t take medication, but I try to sleep, daily exercise and a special diet, which should slow the decline of cognitive functions,” says Cynthia.
Her diet must include salad in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening, a lot of salmon (it contains fatty acids omega-3) and a handful of nuts, 1-2 times a day. Three times a week she swims and monitors the number of steps with a fitness tracker, and floats on the kayaks with friends.
And Cynthia sings in a band. Twice a month they hold concerts in nursing homes, where people with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Their eyes light up when they hear songs from their past. We do our best to get them to sing with us is a great way to connect hearts and minds”
Cynthia says that he became happier when he found the strength to accept the diagnosis:
“Yes, there is a certain stigma on people with memory disorders. Often they are afraid to seek help. I believe that my calling to deal with such prejudices. You should not hesitate, if you have Alzheimer’s”.
Her grown children – a 32-year-old will and 34-year-old Emily know that after the death of their mother bequeathed to transmit your brain for further studies in University of Rochester. She carries a note in my wallet in case this happens to her at home. In her detailed instructions for medical personnel.
“You know that will be difficult, but I promised them that I will never forget how much I love them. I will love them forever, even if for me it will be impossible to understand.”
Source: goodhousekeeping.com Anna Stachura