Living with dementia/Alzheimer's, and fear (a story about having a concussion)

Back in 2009 I had a concussion. At some point after that I drove to Illinois to see my family. I was tired after the drive and fell asleep on my sister’s couch, only to be awakened by a loud noise. I opened my eyes and looked in the direction of the noise. A woman standing in the kitchen looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, did I wake you?”

I replied, “Um, that’s okay, no problem.” I didn’t know who the woman was, but she seemed nice, and really sorry for having made the noise.

After she turned and walked away I looked around; I didn’t know where I was. My first instinct was to panic, but I tried not to. I thought hard, “Where am I? Who is that woman?” I’m sure that I also thought, “Who am I?,” but as I write this I remember those first two questions the most.

After at least ten seconds of trying to control my panic and search my memory, it finally came back to me. I was Al, the woman was my mother, and I was at my sister’s house. The panic subsided.

I write this because of a dream this morning, and because I can only begin to imagine the fear that people with dementia/Alzheimer’s must deal with on a regular basis.