The Start

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As Jim and I planned our retirement, we thought about the many things the luxury of time would allow us to enjoy. But we never planned on dementia, and when it entered our lives, it dramatically changed our plans.

Jim retired at age 57. At the time that seemed like an early age to me. But Jim had grown weary of the stresses of his job and immediately immersed himself in volunteer projects at church. I was still working and we had a wonderful life. I would come home at the end of the day and Jim had bought all the needed groceries and handled all the chores. We had time to spend together, visit friends, or do whatever our hearts desired. Our marriage was a happy one and we were totally content.

I couldn’t believe Jim did not remember the conversation, but forgot about it and went on.

Jim and I have never argued much. But one day as I left to have lunch with a friend, Jim grew very agitated because he said I had not told him of this plan. Actually we had talked about it a week earlier at length since this was an old friend I rarely got to see. I couldn’t believe Jim did not remember the conversation, but forgot about it and went on.

Jim Vic Va Bch Bench July 2015The next week the same scene began to unfold. I realized then Jim might have a memory problem as this was too unusual. I had read that early intervention slows down the progress of memory loss and called our doctor. The doctor tested Jim and said he found nothing wrong. But the same pattern of forgetfulness kept repeating itself, so I called the doctor back. Jim was then tested by a specialist who confirmed Jim indeed had the beginnings of memory problems. So he stared taking Aricept. This began our life on the road with dementia.

Even with these changes we enjoy life and have a strong relationship.

For years it was hardly noticeable. But Jim is now in his 13th year since diagnosis and life has radically changed. Even with these changes we enjoy life and have a strong relationship. In this blog I hope to do 3 things: 1) talk about some medical treatments and interventions that have allowed Jim to survive 13 years, 2) discuss the kind of advocacy that has helped us negotiate some of the issues faced, and 3) capture the hope and moments of joy the Lord has given us.

I hope to see you on the road with Jim.

54 Responses

  1. Ken Samuelson

    Thanks for taking the time to write these. I look forward to following the journey. Thanks most of all for your wonderful friendship.

  2. Besutiful!

  3. Doc. Carter

    God bless Jim and vicky

  4. Janet Abernathy

    Vicki~This is such a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I can’t imagine what you have been going through. Just know that I will keep you and Jim in my prayers and that I look forward to reading your future posts.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. I will be looking forward to every post as I went through this with our good friend and neighbor over the last 15 years. I wish you and Jim the very best as you go forward together.

  6. Will and Sonja

    So wonderful that you’re taking the time to document these “milestones” along the way.
    They serve as learnings & encouragement for us all…and great testimonials to the Lord’s grace and mercy.
    Thank you

  7. Cynthia Rhudy

    I am excited for you to have the joy of expressing verbally what you have held in your heart, as we have journeyed closely through this together for so many years as friends and one of Jim’s care givers. Writing brings therapy through expressing what lies in the heart. You both are always in my prayers and the prayers of many as I and the other care givers serve you and the love of your life, your Jim!

  8. As a caregiver myself of a spouce who has Parkinson’s, I truly appreciate the caring, nurturing and respectful insite you are offering to your friends and family. You both are in my prayers.

  9. Jim Augustin

    Thanks for blogging. My neighbors, Sandi and Allan, passed your email along. My wife Jeanne doesn’t store short term memories very well. She is being seen by Dr. Bolouri. All the blest, Jim

  10. Vicki, thank you for taking me on this journey.

  11. Once again, thank you for sharing your journey as I’m sure many of us will be able to learn from your’s and Jim’s experiences. I am on a similar path with my mother who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Praying always for the Lord to help us learn whatever lessons He has for us along the way. XO

  12. Cheree Mercier

    Vicki, this is awesome that your are sharing you and Jim’s journey this is a blessing to me and will be to many people. Thank you. God Blessings each day to each of your and your families. Cheree

  13. Clark Neilson

    Vicki-Thank you for sharing your story. It will mean much to those suffering through similar circumstances and help us all to appreciate each other all the more. May God bless you both.

  14. Debbie & Dave

    Thank you for including us. Looking forward to hearing more…

  15. Tom & Judi

    Thanks for sharing. Look forward to your post

  16. Brenda Stilwell

    Vicki, this could potentially be any one of us! You have made a beautiful commitment to your family, as well as to Jim. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Ruth Samuelson

    Thanks for doing this. It will help me pray for you and prep for my own family transitions!

  18. Tom and Mary Beth Hohman

    Thank you so very much, dear Vicki, for including us “On the Road with Jim”. We know that the Lord Jesus is your’s and Jim’s Great Shepherd—leading, guiding and protecting you both—each step of the way. We lift you both before the Lord’s Mighty Throne of Grace—-asking for His wisdom, peace and strength to fill you daily. MARANATHA—Tom and Mary Beth Hohman

  19. Lisa Klimko

    Vicki-I think you are one of the smartest, most intellectual women I have the honor to know and call family. I have always admired you. I look forward to reading this blog, as you intertwine your emotional journey with your ability to educate. Thanks for including me in your distribution list!

  20. Mary Beth Hohman

    Thank you so very much, dear Vicki, for including us “On the Road with Jim”. We know that the Lord Jesus is your’s and Jim’s Great Shepherd—leading, guiding and protecting you both—each step of the way. We lift you both before the Lord’s Mighty Throne of Grace—-asking for His wisdom, peace and strength to fill you daily. MARANATHA—Tom and Mary Beth Hohman

  21. Looking forward to your next post, Vic

  22. Chris Ponak

    Hi, Vicki….I’m so glad that you have included me in your blog about you and Jim. Dementia is such a huge part of getting old. My mother had it as did my husband’s mother. Both were put in nursing homes as they lived alone after their husbands passed. It will be an interesting journey you two will take as you both have each other and have faith in one another. Thank you for sharing!

  23. David & Vickie

    You & Jim are very special people. We look forward to when we can see you both again. Thank you so very much for including us in your love-story-blog.

  24. Chris Orr

    Vicki, I so value your friendship and and am truly inspired by all you have done and continue to do for Jim. I look forward to reading more about how God has been working in your lives.

  25. I have only met you and your family once.I was impressed at how natural your interaction with Jim was as well as your whole family.everyone pitched in like it was no big deal.how blessed you and Jim are yo have each tiger

  26. Each other

  27. Thank you for writing this blog. It is interesting to me having no experience with dementia.

  28. Thank you for writing this blog. It is interesting to me having no experience with dementia.

  29. Beth Broadhurst

    Thanks for sharing. Now maybe I can keep up with you all a little better.

  30. Gilda Johnson

    Vicki – Thank you so much for copying me on your written journey. My family is well acquainted with Dementia as my Dad suffered with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. He finally succumbed to the effects of the disease in 2002. However, Alzheimer’s has been discovered to be a potentially inherited condition. Therefore, as the daughter of an Alzheimer’s victim, I am very interested in Jim’s story. Keep me posted. Love, Gilda

  31. Bill Smith

    Vicki, it is most encouraging to see you embark on this journey of chronicling the story with Jim. It is my experience that writing and recording these stories will not only be personally therapeutic for you, but it goes along way to helping others in their similar journeys and even struggles at times. May God continue to provide you the motivation and inspiration to share what He is doing along the journey! Proverbs 3:5-6

  32. Allan Lackey

    Vicki,
    I am almost speechless. It is such a disappointment to have worked all the years and looked forward to the best/golden years to have those dreams seem to vanish. I believe that your faith in God and love for Jim will be more than enough to help you weather any storm that comes your way. For those times when the burden(s) seems more than you can bear, you have friends, many friends that will help you on this journey. You and Jim are in my prayers and thoughts

  33. We are praying that God will continue to bless you and Jim and give you the strength to care for him.

  34. Linda Clarke

    Aunt Vicki, just want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing this story. I sure hate to see Uncle Jimmy have to go through this after watching mom go through the same thing. Just want you to know I will be there if you need me. I love you both very much and my heart goes out to both of you. I pray for you both always in hopes that things will get better. God bless you both.

  35. Gary & Shirley

    Jim is the luckiest man in the world to have you Vic………

  36. Garness R. Thompson

    Thanks for sharing I know what you are going through I’m a witness Mom had it for 25 yrs. just lost her Thankgiving at age 96 so I thank God for her long life she was a perfect Alzheimer’s patient so it was easy caring for my Mom just hard knowing she couldn’t talk anymore. God will truly bless you and see you through it he would never put no more on you than you can bare. Love you

  37. Craig Seibert

    Thanks Vicki for including me (and the rest of us) on your journey.

  38. Ken Schultz

    Thanks for sharing, Vicki! As noted earlier, we’ve dealt with dementia on both sides of the family and live with the question of whether we’ll deal with it in our relationship. Looking forward to your insights and encouragement.

  39. Carolyn Mayer

    Vic, you know how much I love you and Jim and have enjoyed all our times together at Birthdays and Holidays and lunch and dinners together. As you well know what I went thru with Mother but I wouldn’t take anything for the memories and the time that I became the Mother and she became the daughter. I was there for her as she was for me right down to the hygiene and helping with words and things like a child needs. I look forward to walking down this long and winding road with you as you open your heart and soul to people as glory to God thru this Blog. Love and Prayers Psalm 23

  40. Ed & Irene Welch

    Thanks for sharing. We pray for you folks sometimes when we have prayer in the class. May God continue to give you strength for this journey. We admire your courage in the face of adversity, and your positive attitude!

  41. Tony Gray

    Vicki, I hope sharing your story will benefit you as much as it will benefit others. Jim is fortunate to have you by his side advocating for him which you could only do after you understood his problem. I pray that God will continue to strengthen you both.

  42. Susan Smith

    I am so thankful that you are passing on information that can help others!!! God bless you!!! I was just thinking about our years together at Calvary, when you were dating Jim and how God blessed both of us with special life partners : ) God has really been with us all along the journey, and He is with us now and forever!!! Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!!!

  43. Diane O'Malley

    Thank you for sharing your life…the ups and the downs. Praying more JOY God you and Jim

  44. Jody Ballard

    Your love for Jim and your love for the Lord is evident. Jim is so blessed to have you for a wife. One of these days we will all be whole.

  45. Vicki, Still in awe of the way you and Jim are walking this road together. Thanks for giving us a glimpse, and I pray and trust that this blog will be cathartic for you and Jim and inspiring to those who will read it. Kudos for getting started! Tell the story. Thanks for letting us share in your insights from the journey!

  46. Bill Heidenreich

    Thank you for sharing your story Vicki. Jim is so blessed to have you, and I know you know how blessed you are to have Jim. It’s awesome that you answered the call to help Jim, then went another mile to help others. i am blessed to have you as friend. You and Jim are in my prayers.

  47. Debora Hutchins

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My favorite Jim quote is “The best thing I ever did was to marry Vicki.”

  48. Jim, Lisa, Jim Jr, Jesse, Jordan, Jenna

    Vic;
    You have a big family that is here to support you and Jim. Thanks again for inviting us and taking us along on this Journey.
    Love you very Much!

  49. Vicki,
    I am inspired how you are so open to share your journey. Your blog will give so many others hope who struggle with caring for a loved one. You are a beautiful woman and have been blessed with a wonderful marriage. May God be honored in how you continue to love and respect Jim. I’m looking forward to reading more posts. Blessings and love to you both!

  50. Vicki, this unfolding story is so relevant – personally, and as something so many people around us are dealing with too. I am so grateful for your courage and leadership with this blog.

  51. Paula Baker

    My prayers are with you and Jim as you venture down this road together. You are an incredible lady and such a beautiful lady and quite an inspiration to me.

  52. Vicki: I am blessed to be a part of Jim’s caregiving team. The Lord blesses us as we care for Jim. Your love and devotion as you care for Jim is beautiful to see, and is a wonderful model of giving and sharing between wife and husband. God bless you both.

  53. Thank you for including me.

  54. Mary Beth Hohman

    Thank you so much for updating us on your “Journey With Jim”. Praying for the Lord’s wisdom each step of the way. Thanking the Lord with you, dear Vicki, for Jim’s appetite returning and his new strength. Sending much love with prayers—MARANATHA—Tom and Mary

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