I will be forever grateful to Karen Drew, Reporter, with the local Detroit NBC affiliate, WDIV-Channel 4.  She aired an AMAZING story tonight about my personal journey with Alzheimer’s and how I’m turning it into a movie bound for submission into Sundance Film Festival!

It’s incredible for me to see this vision that was born 4 years ago actually coming to life.  Amazing things happen when you speak your dreams.  Dreams DO come true!

Daddy-O would be SO PROUD!!!!!!!!  🙂

 

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When I started blogging years ago, I wasn’t sure where my story was heading.  I was clear, though, that it was a story about my dad living with Alzheimer’s.  I gave some backstory and then used the blog to report on my dad’s health status.  It was only over time that I truly realized what I was really up to – I was spilling the truth about what was happening to me and around me during the great Alzheimer’s slide.  Somewhere along the way, the story of my dad having Alzheimer’s morphed into how I was reacting to my dad having Alzheimer’s.  It became the story of Alzheimer’s through my eyes, the eyes of a caregiver.

Blogging in the middle of the night, I’d think, If I can help just ONE person, it will be worth the effort.  If just ONE person visits this site and gets some relief by reading this, the project will be a success.

And then an amazing thing started happening – I started getting comments from people I didn’t know who were actually connecting with me.  I was making a difference!

So I continued blogging and telling the story, digging deeper into my emotions and psyche so that I could truly understand what I was going through so that I could accurately report back.  It became my self-proclaimed duty.  And so I wrote, I cried, I celebrated small victories, and then my dad died.

There was a natural tapering off of my blog entries as I took much-needed time to grieve my loss.  I would check back in by posting a new entry on milestone events like holidays or anniversaries.  But after 6 months I started thinking to myself, Well, now I’m just talking to talk.  No one cares what I’m up to – this story was always about Dad.  Now that he’s gone, there’s no more story.

I felt compelled to post an entry on the 1-year anniversary of my dad’s death.  It seemed full-circle and important to the overall story.  It was comments to this entry that really got my attention: Seeing you training for a triathlon made me realize that I AM going to get through this!…  Knowing that you survived the horrible psych ward experience made me realize that I can survive it too if my worst nightmare happens…”  This was a big acknowledgement and a huge realization for me – this story IS about ME!  🙂

I find Dr. Kevorkian’s life interesting and the specific ending to his life compelling.  Intriguing.  Mysterious.

I mean, after his staunch support of assisted suicide over the years, I half expected him to go out with a bang – a final thumbing of the nose to the government system he found so overbearing or a final message to the world regarding his well-known topic.  But peacefully in bed listening to his favorite music??  Hmmm… curious.

I’m aware that I am probably even more drawn to his story now because of my personal experience of watching someone die in bed listening to their favorite music.   (For the record, that still seems to me a pretty good way to go! – minus all the suffering that may come beforehand.)  However, I also personally know Geoffrey Fieger and consulted him while my dad was suffering.  And in my dad’s final week, my mother and I left our bedside vigil in order to attend the by-invitation Detroit premiere of the HBO film, “You Don’t Know Jack” – a very interesting dichotomy.

However, I think Dr. Jack’s personal ending purely demonstrates his overall mission – he wasn’t ever trying to avoid life by choosing death.  Rather, he was trying to help dying people avoid suffering and loss of dignity.  People who knew they were going to slowly die from an incurable disease.  People who were already experiencing increased pain and suffering every day.  THAT’s where Dr. Jack gets me every time.  I connect with that concept.  Always have.  Even before my experience with Alzheimer’s.

But, let’s face it, Dr. Kevorkian himself wasn’t suffering in the end – he was simply dying.  He was dying of natural causes and he chose to continue on that route.  I think that’s cool.  I think it’s important for him to have made that choice for himself.  Not the specific choice of choosing a natural death necessarily – but rather that he probably considered all of his options… and then he powerfully chose his exit strategy.  I think there’s dignity in being able to choose how you die.

(NOTE: I clearly understand that he went to jail for actively administering a lethal dosage to someone which made it “active voluntary euthanasia” vs. his previous acts of “physician-assisted suicide” where he provided the dosage to someone else to administer to themselves. Click these links for an explanation of the difference and the variances of the law.)