PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


But can you tell me - I'm sorry to ask this - why does he look like he has had a stroke?

A friend asked this question and it certainly is a valid one. I am not really sure of the answer but I can dance around it.

When Gregory ended up in the hospital, close to the beginning of his time at Lieberman, the experience took a large toll on his mobility and general functioning. He fell and gashed open his head. With a knee jerk from that pain, after falling, he to hit his forehead on the bottom of the bed leaving a huge bruise.While the X-Rays showed no broken bones, I think that Gregory did some damage to his back and neck which have always been sensitive areas for him since we met some 39 years ago.

Next he had a major Grand Mal Siezure that put him into the hospital for four days. Research says, I did not know this, that approximately 28% of people with Alzheimer's begin to get seizures at the end stages of the disease.

Gregory began Dilantin to avoid future seizures and the medication took two or more weeks to balance itself, the strength of it causing him to be weak, drowsy, and basically "out of it."

On the last day of the second hospital stay he came down with the flu. It was a mild case because he had had the vaccine in October but non-the-less the effect of the medication for his H1N1 flu was like being hit by a truck.

Over the next weeks at Lieberman Gregory got stronger and stronger and felt better and better but one must be reminded that he is in the last stages of Alzheimer's. The progress of the disease over the last year, and then between Christmas and his moving to Lieberman have been exponential.

At this point, due to the above and the progression of the disease, he is not unable to walk so lives in his wheel chair. He doesn't seem to mind. He is progressing a little with Physical Therapy and over the last four days has been peddling a bicycle from his wheel chair for fifteen minutes at a time and has been walking with the help of two therapists.

Progress may be progress, but with Gregory at this stage, progress needs to be redefined. It is not the kind of progress that you or I might experience after a fall or an illness.

Part of the problem now that he is regaining strength, is that his cognition continues to decline so while he may be strong enough to walk, he no longer knows how to do so cognitively. I.E. the brain sends out the "walking signals" but he legs do not know how to "read them."

The same has happened with his fingers, hands, and arms. The strength is there at times but the signals get scrambled. Due to this disconnect between the cognition and the muscles, he has developed what are called "Intentional Tremors."

When the brain sends a signal to his hand to pick up the fork, the signal is just interpreted in a jerk of the muscles in his arm and hand. The ability to stab or cut or scoop a piece of meat with the fork, let alone get it to his mouth no longer works well.

So this is the long and short of it. He does look at times like he is "out of it" in his awareness and responsiveness. Where he is, who knows. But he does come back.

Also his coordination of muscles due to lack of use, and cognitive disconnect causes him to look like he had a stroke and most of the time his neck needs to rest on a pillow because he cannot hold it up.

So there is your relative answer. Hope this helps you see Gregory in a real light which is also a loving light that continues to bless both Gregory and me.

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