My name is Anne-Marie Ouellette and my 45 year old husband, Todd, has dementia. Todd and I live apart, as he lives in a long term care facility. I have lost my best friend, my partner, and the person that I was supposed to grow old with to a very cruel disease.
I have seen my husband and the father to my two daughters change from a man that could command a room with his personality into the shell of a man. I have seen him flip a table, call people names, and forget where he lives or what he was going to do next, proving that this disease does more than just take memories and mobility. People often assume that because Todd knows who I am that he is not in the advanced stages of the disease. My response to this is yes, he does recognize me, but he doesn't really know me anymore. I have lost the man that could finish my sentences, the man I leaned on for support and the man I laugh with.
However, this disease has shown me what unconditional love really is. No matter what has happened, it is still he and I pushing through life's challenges together. If I had known that I would be helping him bath and reminding him to brush his teeth and how to put his pants on, I still would not change my decision for the world. I have my memories to hold on to and keep me doing whatever I can for him.
When we received the diagnosis, we had no idea what came next. When I called the Alzheimer Society, I found compassion, guidance, and people who understood and listened. Unfortunately, we had to find our way to it on our own. I think that it should be a service that is more widely recommended, to help those who are on a journey similar to ours. We need the support that the Society offers.
Thank you for reading my story,