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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Milenyo and Alzheimer's Disease

It's been two days after Milenyo, the worst storm that hit Manila since 1995. This is the first storm the directly hit Manila after eleven years. Honestly, it caught me by surprise. I have not been listening or reading the news lately and was surprised to be told that there would be no classes the following day while going home from work Wednesday. I never thought this would be different. I was used to signal no. 2 being declared a non-school day. Little did I know that we would be hard hit by the storm.

Anyway, I woke up early that Thursday knowing that my wife had to stay in the hospital with her sister who was going under the knife that day. I was left alone with the kids and my mother-in-law. For once, Pagasa did not miss this time. As it had predicted, the storm started raging at 12:00 noon. I would not have worried much but my mother-in-law who had suddenly been stricken with alzheimer's was very frightened. She's 82 years old. As some of you know, this is not my first time to have been acquainted with Alzheimers. My first experience with the disease was in Canada. My friend's husband, Terry, (God bless his soul) was my first encounter with someone afflicted with the disease. I never thought my mother was going that route already. She was showing signs of being very forgetful but we never suspected it to be the beginnings of Alzheimer's. She's been suffering from that disease for almost three years now. She's 87.

My mother-in-law's affliction is something else. She was okay, doing house chores when she got the flu, probably taking it from me. You see, I was bedridden during my birthday. She was doing the laundry then. Suddenly, she got sick and the following morning, my wife decided to take her to the hospital. Her mind plummetted since then. It was so abrupt.

Going back to the storm, when I saw how my mother-in-law was frightened by the gust of wind and the downpour, I couldn't help worry about my mother's condition, too. This made me think about her and her affliction. I made a tiny little poem for her and this is how it goes:

Is she really? (Working title)

This is where alzheimer finally takes me.
My mother - alone in her bed

with neither memory nor care.
She is nothing but a shell

fleshy mollusk meat gone
the soup down to the last gulp.

Like the debris found in the morning
of a full night's revelry

confetti strewn thick on the pavement
amid trash of firecracker paper.

A birdcage without the bird
or a flower without the scent.

This is what she finally seemed to be

With probing eyes and withered hands
she held my face!

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Blogger Chet said...

Rolly - Alzheimer's is often gradual, like my mother's case, and if it's so sudden as you said it was for your mother-in-law, it might have been lurking in her body before being activated by an illness.

Take care, Rolly. Both you and I have AD in our family history, so we have to be extra careful. I can see myself going the way of my mother, but I hope it won't happen to you.

12:55 PM  
Blogger ipanema said...

It's a sad illness. They're physically present but we aren't even part of their lives at a certain point in time.

That's a beautiful poem. God bless.

4:14 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

chet That was what we were told by the doctor. Somehow, alzheimer's probably there and yet we didn't suspect it. When she had high fever, there was insufficient supply of oxygen in her brain and activated her illness. At first we suspected it was the medication that she was taking at the time.

No, you take care! I don't think I'd live that long anyway. But hoping that I do live up to 75, I hope I still have my brain functioning like a 17 year old :-)

4:28 PM  
Blogger VICKY said...

hi rolly,
am sorry i missed your 35+birthday- i've been a lurker in sept as too busy at home and at work(we are shifting office buildings from the CBD to a suburb :-( in 2 weeks time) anyways- belated and may you be blessed with good health, peace and good memory- talking about the big A...my family cared for my grandma who had it- and who later on became bed ridden till she joined the Lord. But she was the greatest grandmom. have a great week.

10:50 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Ipanema Indeed a very sad sate to be in. Its even much more painful to those who see their loved ones go like that.

Thanks for commenting on the poem.

Vicky Thank you. So's my mother these days. She's bedridden now and confined to her wheelchair when eating.

I'm sure she was. HAve a great week, too.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous bugsybee said...

I'm sorry to read about this, Tito Rolly... Alzheimer's is cruel, both to the patient and her family. It robs us of a chance to let our loved one know that we are with her, we love her and care for her till the end. But take heart, Tito Rolly. I am sure that long before Alzheimer's set in, your mom and mom-on-law were happy with the thought that they have raised their children well and that they are well loved. ... The poem is beautiful, especially the last stanza. (It breaks my heart.)

9:49 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Bugsy Yes and what's more, it is hard to accept is to see that the person you admired and loved so much is being deprived of her dignity little by little. Really a very painful experience.

Thanks for liking the poem.

10:16 PM  
Blogger BatJay said...

i hope all your moms are doing well.

feel ko yung nararamdaman mo sir, hirap ng may sakit sa pamilya. lalo na sa case mo.

ingat na lang.

ps - galing ng tula mo.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dear tito rolly, you don't know me yet you probably might, in a certain way. your post is heart-breaking, and your poem to mommy more still. you never know who you might meet on the street, but if someone touches your shoulder with a degree of familiarity, on the street, and you turn and see a stranger's face smiling warmly at you, that would be me. i have my ways, tito rolly, and if i could be of comfort to you in some small way, i would do it. in a blink of an eye.

5:25 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

BAtjay You wouldn't believe it but my mother-in-law is showing signs of improvement. Hopefully, it was just a phase due to her being sick. But we never know. Just praying that she'll be alright.

Thanks for liking the poem.

anonymous dear tito rolly, you don't know me yet you probably might What do you mean? I would be glad if we can meet one day. in the meantime, why don't you sign your name so at least I know who I am talking to. It would be a pleasure if you come up and greet me. Just don't surprise me as I may become too jittery. hehe

8:08 PM  
Anonymous trench said...

Pink recommended I visit your site to read your views on education... As a educator myself, Im very interested to see what your thoughts are! Its graet to hear what other educators have to say!

5:46 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Trench Thanks for the visit and making your presence felt. I would also recommend that you join pinoy teachers network. It's a teaching group of pinoy teachers based here and abroad. We also maintain a blog where we discuss the trade. Your latest entry is a good material for the blog. Should you be interested, please click the following link:


Should this link not work for some reason or another, please click the icon placed at my right sidebar. Please do join.

7:15 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Trench, sorry, I forgot to add the html codes. Here it is again:

Pinoy teachers Network

7:21 PM  
Anonymous bayi said...

Good poem, rolly. I can feel your apprehension

10:59 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Bayi Thanks.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Rey A said...

Hello Tito R,
It's good to hear that you and your family are fine after the storm. Whoever thought of the name has a dramatic flair. It's foreboding: Milenyo...but I'm sorry to hear about the "storm" in your family...AD is something else..it doesn't go in a day..I've always asked "What if those afflicted have tons of pictures and videos of themselves...will it jar their memory back?"..but then do they even know who the person is in front of them when they look at the mirror?...it's really scary...fortunate are those who have relatives, like you, who would care for them...your poem reveals your deep understanding and love to your Mom, ditto to your in-law..they will be well taken cared of..May He continually bless you to suffer your "storm"...

12:26 AM  
Blogger JMom said...

it is a sad progression, this altzheimer. My dad has it too, and it is sad to see him slowly deteriorate. It seems like his was triggered by his wife's sudden death, but the doctors say that it probably has been progressing slowly over the years. Maybe your MIL is the same way, you just attributed it to natural aging. My dad is still in denial about alzheimer. he says it is just the natural signs of aging.

6:27 AM  
Blogger G. said...

tito rolly, i'm coming to town!!!

let's all have dindin one night, ok? i'd love to meet you guys!

9:25 AM  
Blogger G. said...

and now for my real comment...

i got really sad reading your poem... specially for someone like me who values my memories - the ones i cling to when i feel like my world is caving in... i do hope your mom's ok...

remember what aristotle said? tabula rasa - our minds, in the beginning, are like a blank slate. her memories are in there but they are not making sense. keep on building memories with her, one way or another... who knows, maybe she'll remember some of it someday. miracles do happen =).

9:37 AM  
Blogger Dr. Emer said...

I'm glad Tita Nitz's Mom has recovered and that her ailment is NOT Alzheimer's Disease (AD) as you feared initially. AD usually begins gradually and not as insidious as you described. I really believed it must have been one of the medicines she took or it can also be due to her metabolic state while she was sick. Once corrected, everything becomes normal again. As it is, we still do not know what caused it and how it got corrected. Overall, I'm happy she is well now.

She is nothing but a shell

fleshy mollusk meat gone
the soup down to the last gulp

I think your frustration and your pain is worse than the real situation. Don't despair, Tito Rolly. Remain strong and pray always.

Sila pa din yan. Deep inside, mahal ka pa din nila. Ravaged by disease, true; but love prevails.

3:36 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

ReyA Yes, we're all alright, thank God. Unfortunately, we've shown my mom different pictures and still wouldn't remember anything. I have suspicion she wouldn't even recognize herself if she sees herself in the mirror.
On a happier note, my mother-in-law is back! We couldn't believe it but she's normal again.

JMom If you're dad is in denial that he has alzheimer's, then he is not that bad. My mom doesn't even know what it is. On the other hand, my MIL, believe it or not, is back to her old self. No signs of whatever she had. Hopefully, this would be for a long time.

G That's great news!!! Yeah, let's hook up. Just tell me the place and time and I'll be there.

Yes, it seems my mother is back to that tabula rasa state.

Doc Emer The whole family can't thank you enough for the time you gave us despite your hectic schedule. We suspect she has not fully recovered yet although there are no signs that she didn't. At any rate, we are just happy she's back to her old self again. Thank you.

8:17 PM  
Anonymous amihan said...

I accidentally end up reading your blog sir. I was looking for something in the net and i end up here. And i think I will be back again sometime soon. I enjoy reading your blog. I can relate to some of your ideas. I have lost my grandmother to this disease, too. It hurts me most everytime I see her that time. I hope my grandfather will not end up having it, too. That's why right now. i made it a point to hug him and shower him with care. Maybe it also touches the idea that sometimes we may never truly appreciate something until we have lost it. Sad fact.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Hi Tito Rolly,

I have witnessed my great grandmothers gradual Alzheimers before.

I hope she's okay.

By the way, I included this post, on my Milenyo trackbacks.

Thank you tito rolly for commenting on my blog, it's been one hell of a year.


11:23 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

amihan Sorry for the late reply. Medyo busy.

Anyway, welcome to my blog and sige lang, balik lang ng balik at nang makapagkwentuhan tayo.

michael Now I have a name to go with the blog. Yes, I saw that you have included my post on your milenyo trackbacks. Thanks.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

tito rolly, yes you know me but for now, it's nice too see how you can't possibly remember or know of me behind my veil of cowardice. i thought my register and diction might give me away but realzed that with your many visitors, both friend and not so friend, how could you possibly...? much more even bother?

i am thankful to the lord that your MIL is ok... i keeppraying for her and for your mom... it's nice to see that doc emer was with you during this trying time... and it's heartening to see many of your friends supporting and encouraging you, tito rols. if someone hugs you out of the blue, again, remember, ako yon.

8:05 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

ANonymous And the plot thickens... so I know you already huh? CAn you give me a hint?

I don't know what's on your mind but why not tell me who you are? Or you just love being mysterious? Maybe you get a kick out of that, huh? Okay, what ever makes you happy. hehehe

2:54 AM  

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