Making Mistakes and Learning to Let Go


I totally blanked yesterday on my 3 PM weekly meeting for coffee with my closest friend.

The appointment was already on my calendar. And I'd already noticed the appointment 1½ hours before and made a mental note that I'd have to leave soon. Then I completely forgot about it until about 4:30.

I was embarrassed, so I called Fred, and launched into this long, convoluted apology. But he interrupted me and said without any rancor, "So, in the future, I'll just have to call you the day before."

"It was already on my calendar," I complained. "It's not going to do much good to be reminded." So he replied, "Well, I guess I'll have to call you an hour before."

He most likely recognized that this was my Alzheimer's acting up. And so, he wasn't really disturbed, that is, he didn't blame me.

But, of course, I blamed myself. And there are a couple of things I'm going to have to learn:

First, my inability to do what is normally expected of a person is going to happen to me over and over. Especially when I feel as normal as I do, I'm always going to wonder whether it's the Alzheimer's or just my carelessness. So I will tend to feel embarrassed.

I'm just going to have to let that go. Mostly, it's not going to be my "fault." I'll have to stop worrying, for instance, that others will blame a carelessness on my part .

Now that's going to be hard. The emotional imperative my entire life has been: YOU DO NOT MAKE MISTAKES. And making mistakes is going to be a huge part of this illness.

It will not be easy to let it go, to acknowledge each time what's happened without feeling upset. But that's going to be the challenge.

One other thing is that my friends will mostly make allowances for me; most of the time they're not going to be pissed off, for they know about the disease. They won't need a long apology to reassure them. So I can allow myself real gratitude for their care. It's hard to be grateful, of course, if you're embarrassed.

So I'll have to learn to be grateful.

This is another of the blessings of this illness. Perhaps it will be easier to let some things go, to have my friends help me let things go.

An author and former physician, Dr. David Hilfiker was diagnosed in 2012 with a progressive mild cognitive impairment. His doctor thought it was Alzheimer's but additional testing proved this initial diagnosis to be wrong. Now David must learn how to come to terms with the reality of worsening cognitive issues that appear to have no cause.

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Thank you for sharing this.

Recently I completely dropped out a dental appointment for Mom, despite having confirmed it just the day before. Got involved in something and hadn't even looked at my calendar that day. My new plan is to post a note on the bathroom mirror when there's an appointment coming up. This is helping so far.

I can understand your prognosis is discouraging and still the most important aspect is the present moment. You are not making mistakes, you simply are living the life you have now. Blessings to you to lighten up and achieve the level of acceptance your friends already have. -- Gail
I'm an Nursing Home administrator currently working as an Executive Director in an Assisted Living in Kansas. I so appreciate you sharing what you are experiencing and "learning" about yourself and life as you go through this process. I see our residents progress daily and often wish I could "crawl inside" their mind to know what they are thinking or feeling so I know better how to care for them. You are their voice. Many thanks.
From one who is dealing with a parent with Dementia, it's part of the situation we as 'care-givers' know well. The problem of NOT having the affliction personally is tough to know what those that do are going through. Mother's condition just tears my up inside. My siblings have little to do with being the over-seer, having 'given' the responsibility solely to 'the eldest.'

The standing joke(s) of 'the advantage of Alzheimer's is that you are constantly meeting new people.' The funniness of the situational comments wear thin quickly. However humor is a good thing when taken in proper measure. That seems to be a defensive mechanism......Laugh or cry. I have done both in recent months.