My husband’s disease was stalking him a good twenty years before it caught our attention. There were subtle, and not so subtle changes in his behaviors and demeanor, his interests and his habits. A good twenty years before his official diagnosis in 2012 he sought the help of a neurologist for what he called “foggy days”. These days were the ones that Tom dreaded. Would feel dizzy, he would not think clearly, and he would be non productive and very tired. The neurologist did the usual tests, including an MRI, and found nothing out of the ordinary. The doctor assured us both that Tom was just fine and had nothing medically wrong with him. We were relieved, but had no answers for the recurring “foggy days”.
As the years passed, Tom slowly transformed into a man I no longer knew. He had previously loved a good party, whether hosting or attending. He could often be found holding court at the local pub, surrounded by his work buddies and his friends. And suddenly he could not bring himself to attend a party, go to the pub, or even go out to dinner!
His interest in other activities dwindled, too. The man who proudly rode his bicycle 5000 miles a year suddenly lost interest in it. His mountain bike, road. bike, and our Cannondale tandem collected dust in the basement. He had enjoyed skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. This also ended, as did his love of backpacking and canoe camping. He had enjoyed watching movies and listening to music, but that disappeared, too. He still hiked and enjoyed bird watching, but much of what we had done as a couple just ended. And I just kept trying to adjust.
In about 2009 I noticed that he was forgetting to pay his bills. We had always kept our credit cards separate, and although both our names were on our checking accounts, we actually had “his and hers”. It worked well for us as each had autonomy with the money each earned. The household was supported jointly. Because we did banking separately I had no idea how far Tom had slipped until one day the phone rang. It was a lady from his bank, calling to explain to me that Tom had called the bank to report much of the money in his account was “not his” and the bank should remove it. The woman explained further that she had investigated the matter, and she assured me that the money was indeed ours. Tom had electronically transferred it from an online account. And then he had simply forgotten it. This was the biggest red flag to date. I had thought that his other changes might be part of the aging process, though they started in his late 30″s. But now I knew something was drastically wrong!This was a man who kept detailed binders of his finances, a man who had saved for retirement since he was twelve ( okay, maybe not 12, but definitely by the time he landed his first job out of school). And now it seemed he was forgetting his money.
I began to pay better attention, and saw his credit card arriving and not getting paid. I watched the credit card bill, and reminded him to pay it. And the bill sat there unpaid until I decided I had better pay it. Previously he would pay a bill immediately. This was a big change.