Simply Rambling

A Last Minute Trip Abroad


I’ve been struggling with writing this post for the past couple of weeks.  I just can’t seem to figure out how to go about it. It is something I wanted to talk about, while at the same time, I’m not sure if I would be judged for sharing something too personal out there in the inter-webs for strangers to see.  But ultimately, this is MY space.  It’s meant to be a place where I can be myself and be honest with my feelings, regardless of how others might think…

Before I get into the actual post, I suppose I should first mention that I came from Taiwan originally.  And while I have called the good old US of A my home for the past 23 years, my entire family is still living in Taiwan and I typically visit for about 2 weeks once every other year.  Because, let’s be honest, the plane tickets for 4 people from the US to Asia are not exactly affordable.  Therefore technically, we are not due for a visit until sometime in 2017 since we visited during spring break in 2015.

However, my mom has been having a lot of health issues in this past year or so, and back in July, her condition had taken a nose dive which totally freaked me out.  Feeling that I really needed to be there to see what’s going on for myself, I headed for Taiwan 3 days after we came back from our summer vacation.

To be honest my mom’s main health issue (unfortunately she’s always been pretty unhealthy throughout the years) has really caught me by surprise.  She is only in her 60’s, so how can she possibly already got diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer??!!  I first noticed something was really wrong during our visit in spring 2015.  Prior to that, everyone around her just always chalked off her increasingly bad memory as part of getting older.  And my weekly 30-60 minutes of FaceTime conversations with her did not exactly send too big of a red flag to me, since we mostly just chatted aimlessly about nothing important.  Only until I was there with her 24/7 for two weeks to realize that it was not merely just having bad memory.  She was actually having a lot of trouble retaining new information.  I reached out to some friends and got the name of a doctor who specialized in the area, and made sure my dad called to setup an appointment before I had to leave.  A few weeks later we received the official diagnosis.

I was shocked, heartbroken, angry and a whole bunch of mixed emotions.  I was an emotional wreck.  I couldn’t and didn’t want to believe that this could happen to my always friendly, chatty and smiling mom!  Why couldn’t it be the side effect of the cholesterol meds that she was on and she’d be all better after stop taking it?  Why couldn’t it be some other kind of disease that can be fixed  via surgery and then she’d fully recover after some rehab?  What if someone did notice and got her treatment earlier?  Would that have made any difference?  I know it’s not a terminal disease, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling helpless.  She is never going to get better.  There isn’t a cure for Alzheimer.  There is only the inevitable and there’s nothing we can do about it, other than ‘hoping’ the medication could slow down the progression.  I was in a panic!  What if she loses all her faculties and forgets who we are, while we are thousands of miles away?  Did I mention that I was a wreck?

Fast forward one year and some change.  For the most part, my mom’s condition seemed to be holding with the medication for the past year or so.  By holding I mean while her memory seemed to be ever slightly getting worse, she still appeared pretty normal otherwise, until sometime in June/July.  Something changed and all of a sudden her condition drastically deteriorated.  She became fairly unresponsive and was unable to make simple decisions or answer simple questions.  I was not able to hold any sort of conversation with her during our Sunday FaceTime chats for weeks.  I was once again an emotional hot mess and the sense of helplessness was overwhelming…

Luckily, she did recover from that scary episode a few weeks after her doctor put her on a new drug.  And she seemed fairly lively by the time I arrived.  Unfortunately the memory side of things seemed to have taken a big hit after this.  She started to lose some long-term memories such as driving directions to places where she’s been going all her life.  She practically lost the ability to retain any new information – think asking the same question every couple of minutes.  And she doesn’t remember the tasks that she has completed, such as eating, showering or doing laundry.  So she tends to go about her day doing those things multiple times a day.  >”<

(Took the parents to visit the beautiful golden lily fields in the mountains)

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(Lunch by Sun Moon Lake)
(Lunch by Sun Moon Lake)


I was able to spend some good quality time with her and my dad for about 2.5 weeks (and i am very grateful to have a husband who is always so willing to take care of everything at home while I was away).  There was nothing I could really DO to help/change the situation honestly.  It is what it is now.  At least she can still do most things on her own and usually is in pretty good spirit.  We can only hope to maintain her current status for as long as we can.  Even more so, we hope that my dad, her sole care giver, will not get burned out too soon…


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