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From Beaches to Bewilderment

Our life together has been a journey through cyberspace.  Bruce and I met online in a 12 Step support group room.  He was a recovering alcoholic with 12 years of sobriety; I was an member of Adult Children of Alcoholics (actually a grandchild).  I had been divorced four years; he was recently widowed due to an overdose of medication.  As a retired paramedic I was able to explain the questions he had been unable to answer for himself:  COULD he have been able to save her when he found her, had he known how to do something differently?  WHAT if he had found her a few minutes earlier?  Later this Atlantic coast based sailor visited the Pacific coast and my dalmation and I showed him our favorite beaches.  The friendship grew through more chats online.  We married and I moved to VA a few months before he transferred to an aircraft carrier and again our love grew through a cyberspace connection.   

A move to CA (a naval air station in the central desert this time - and how I missed those beaches!) where we bought our first house together, were thrilled to have some of my children and grandchildren close enough to visit (an 8 hour drive away in UT) and had the time to form community ties and actually join the golf club.  Then back to a ship deployment and a move to Bremerton, WA for 2 years until Bruce retired from the Navy after completing 20 years of service.  

Bruce hasn't had birth children.  I have two sons and their wives, and 4 grandchildren from my first marriage.  One couple lives in ND (brrr is what Bruce thinks - his first step into ND was -45 degrees with windchill of nearly -90 degrees at Fargo, ND).  This son is a commuter jet pilot and this daughter (doesn't FEEL like an "in-law" ) is a social worker who retired to be full time mommy plus weekend hospital admissions clerk when daddy is home.  They have a 6 yr old son and 4 yr old daughter.  

The other couple live in UT and have 11 yr old and 9 yr old daughters.  This son and daughter (she doesn't FEEL like an "in-law" either) are both at the university of utah and I'm not really sure what either of them do, except they are both tenured researcher professors and he does applied research in PET scans and she does basic research in biochemistry in genes or genomes or something that tiny and she uses fruit flies.

Bruce and I moved to UT after his retirement.  I do daycare in my home.  Currently 2 of the 4 children I care for are my granddaughters, and they are getting old enough that they will soon only need me as their carpool driver.  :-)  Well, you know what I mean by the word "need."  Bruce is attending school to get a certificated medical assistant degree.  

Well, that has been the plan, anyway.  His personality and his memory etc has been changing over the last one to two years.  It escalated until it reached the crisis point in late August/early September.  He was hospitalized with an acute psychotic episode (his 3rd ambulance ride in 3 months) and there was a question of a stroke or prior head trauma but he was finally discharged with a diagnosis of "mixed bipolar disorder."  And, of course, with the medications supporting that diagnosis.  

But the medications didn't work, so a new one was tried.  Same story, try a new one.  Add a new one.  Up a dose.  Add a new one.  Try a new one.  During this time he began having increasing and quite severe Parkinsonian symptoms.  Until a week ago we again reached a crisis point.  And the information about the sensitivity to the antipsychotic medications and the Parkinson-like symptoms were the final clues needed for the definitive diagnosis.

January 13th we got the bad news.  Dementia with Lewy Bodies.

The foregoing is the prelude.  This is where our love story really is going to begin.  I wonder where it will end.