Today, I find myself crying at the drop of a hat.  The tears are back, and they remind me of the tears I cried in my parents’ backyard when I realized my mom and dad were no longer there for me.  They were no longer the mom and dad I knew.  They were no longer the mom and dad who gave me advice.  I lost my parents to Alzheimer’s, one of the cruelest of diseases.

Today, those tears keep flowing and although I try my best to control them, they flow like a river.  That’s because my husband, as I once knew him, is gone.  The horrible disease of cancer (Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma) has taken its hold on him.  He no longer is the happy-go-lucky, always joking, always smiling, always-happy person I once knew.

This disease has a strong hold on him.  The radiation treatment has taken his sense of taste.  He has lost 25 pounds in 3 weeks.  He has lost hearing in one ear.  He is overwhelmed with tiredness.  My husband who was once a chef, no longer has the desire to cook, let alone eat.

I feel his fear for the future overtaking him, just as it has me.  The tears flow, once again because I have lost the man I once knew.  I no longer have his strong arms holding me and comforting me when I need it.  Our future is uncertain, because this type of cancer has a very low cure rate.  Even if radiation is successful at eradicating the cancer at the primary site, the reoccurrence rate of return to the lungs, liver or bone is very high.  After his radiation treatment is finished, we still face the uncertainty of this horrible disease returning.

I remember when I was taking care of my parents, I did my best not to let them see my tears of hopelessness.  I knew from everything that I read about Alzheimer’s that it would win in the end.  I knew that this horrible Beast would consume them and because of this the only thing I had left was my faith.

I often would tell my daughters as I was raising them to never give up hope or faith.  Little did I realize after parenting and losing my parents to the disease of Alzheimer’s that I would feel at times like giving up hope.  My faith remained strong knowing that God would hear my prayers for help, but yet realizing the help I needed was for me.  I needed to remain strong and bear the crosses God had given me.

Today, I turn again to God and ask for his help to keep me strong for my husband.

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Deborah Tornillo

Deborah Tornillo

Deborah Tornillo was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas by her loving and nurturing parents. She attended the University of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where she studied Art. After marrying, raising two daughters and enjoying life with her family, Deborah joined a higher calling by committing to be the primary caregiver for her parents, both of whom were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in February 2006. In her new collection of memoirs, 36 Days Apart: A memoir of a daughter, her parents and the Beast named – Alzheimer’s: A story of Life, Love and Death, Deborah chronicles the time spent taking care of her mother and father. 36 Days Apart recounts this painful, enlightening journey, and Tornillo writes candidly about the struggles and fears she faced as her parents’ caregiver. As their disease progressed, Tornillo was faced with the difficult task of learning how to be a parent to her own parents. Through the year and a half of caring for them she extensively researched Alzheimer’s in order to provide the best care possible, all the while knowing that the disease would eventually win in the end. 36 Days Apart gives an honest, unflinching look at the realities of caring for and losing loved ones to Alzheimer’s. Tornillo gives the reader an inside look into the day-to-day life she faced during her heartbreaking, difficult time.

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