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WORTH REPEATING: O Death

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INQUIRER: My husband did well for most of his illness. A writer, Jeff finished two books after his first surgery and he retained his patient, amiable nature as he struggled to adjust to increasing disability. He was able to take care of himself until almost the last month, though the first major sign of impending death appeared well before that. He started sleeping more than the cats, and I grieved for the precious moments he was squandering. The other changes in this once quick-witted man – the guy who always won at Scrabble – began with glacial slowness. Then they came exponentially faster, like Alzheimer’s disease on steroids. He couldn’t handle the taxes. He forgot to take showers. His spatial skills became so bad that he got lost in our house. He couldn’t tell time. He’d forget that he’d already had breakfast and eat again. After 21 years of marriage, he couldn’t remember which side of our bed was his. He mistook the kitchen trash can for a toilet. He couldn’t figure out how to use a phone. I had to pull him with both hands through unfamiliar buildings because he could no longer walk normally or navigate. I bought Depends, just in case. Two days after we started using them, he asked, “What do you figure our last name is?” MORE

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