Most of the people who read this blog already know that Joe, my husband, has died. It was a very long journey. He had Vascular Dementia caused by a heart event on December 18, 2003. His heart stopped multiple times and they resuscitated him multiple times. The result of that is brain damage causing dementia.
Vascular Dementia is either the second or third most common cause of dementia. It isn't Alzheimer's, but for the most part the progression and the outcome is the same. Any real dementia is a fatal disease. There are a few diseases that present like early dementia, but they can be cured, which is why the patient needs to go to a neurologist who knows dementia. It would be a very sad thing to die from something that can get fixed.
Joe spent the last 25 months in a nursing home. I had to place him when I could no longer keep him or myself safe at home. It took a whole staff to deal with him and keep him safe for the first 6 months he was there. He was under the care of Hospice for 21 of those months.
There are 7 stages of dementia according to the scale from the Alzheimer's Association. Joe was in the last phase of the last stage. He could not talk. Not even one word. He could not smile or lift his head. He was totally bed ridden for the last 18 months of his life. During the last 6 months he did not know that the people around him were standing there. By the time he died there was no quality of life at all.
The last week was ugly. Heart patients breath as if they can't catch their breath. It is called dyspnea. I'm pretty sure that is what he had and not the more common death rattle. Rapid breathing with harsh sounds. He did that for over 3 days fighting for every breath. They had him on round the clock morphine because he was obviously in pain, and it helped, but not all the way.
I have been missing Joe for a very long time. I'm sad, but I've already done a lot of grieving. Basically I'm OK.