This Is Us - This Is Me
As a person living with Alzheimer's disease, I don't watch television much. I have a hard time following the story and remembering things from week to week. But, there are a few shows I watch. It helps if I have my husband record them for me so I can go back and watch them again if there was something I missed. I am much better at watching sports or news since that doesn't necessarily require that you catch every minute of it to make sense.
About six years ago, I started watching the NBC show This Is Us. I am glad that I started watching from the beginning because this is not a show you can just sit down and watch if you don't know the back story. They have lots of flashbacks and storylines that go every which way but are still seamless.
The show's producers also knew from the beginning there would be six seasons (if audience approval was there I'm sure). This is the last season and it certainly has been a roller coaster of a ride.
Several seasons ago the matriarch of the show, Rebecca Pearson, played brilliantly by Mandy Moore, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. We saw little glimpses of symptoms, and we saw flash-forward scenes to give us a hint of how Rebecca is handling it.
The final season of This Is Us
Since this is the final season of This Is Us, we are seeing a lot of what is happening with the family dynamic because of Rebecca's diagnosis. The scenes in the show to me are breathtaking. It is like they are sitting in my house and having these conversations.
My friends ask me if it is hard to watch the show and I have to say yes. I literally find myself holding my breath, knowing exactly what Rebecca is going to say. It is so good. I am so pleased that the writers have taken this topic to prime time TV.
Rebecca wants to talk about the disease while others in her family seem to want to shy away from it. On several occasions, Alzheimer's becomes the elephant in the room. Outsiders don't know that Rebecca suffers from it and people have made comments about the disease.
When you are in early-stage Alzheimer's this happens more than you realize. I found myself on the other end of some disparaging remarks about Alzheimer's when people were oblivious to the fact that I suffered from it.
I am never quite sure what to say - each situation is different. I know that several people came to me days and weeks after a particular incident saying how bad they felt about what they said and apologized profusely. I appreciated that gesture.
Talking about Alzheimer's
We never know if something we say will hurt someone else. My friends have suggested that I stop them before they get too far into what they are going to say and explain that I have the disease. And if they have any questions about it, I would be happy to answer them the best I can. I don't want to stop people from talking about Alzheimer's - I just don't want people to feel bad for what they say.
My hat is off to Dan Fogelman, the writer and producer of the show. Thank you for saying many things that need to be said and understood about Alzheimer's disease. Because - this is me.
Are you a male caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease?