Early in 2010, I began feeling very tired and drowsy. I would even leave my pharmacy, go home and sleep for one to two hours and return to work. I visited my family practice physician who examined me and ordered some tests. None of this yielded any answers.
Beginning in mid-2010, I was beginning to struggle more with the same feelings. My wife had systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. I began asking myself questions.....What if I should die?......What would my wife do with the pharmacy? I knew that she would have no idea what to do with a thriving business. Feeling that this would be unfair to her, I told her I felt we should sell the pharmacy....not what I wanted to do. I was only 63 years old, and had planned to keep the pharmacy at least until I was 70.
The process began and within four months, I had negotiated the sell of my pharmacy to a national chain. Little did I know that my agreeing to work for them during the next year would become very challenging.
Two months after selling my pharmacy, I became very depressed. I no longer had my patients to love and care for. My life was empty. On my first visit with a counselor, she suggested that I get my physician to me an antidepressant.
Four months later and not responding well, she suggested that I visit with a psychiatrist adding the newmedication, I went almost catatonic. Walking into the physician's office, the receptionist said; "Don't stop, go on back". The nurse met immediately and put me in a room. Within two minutes, two physicians were in the room with me.
They started the process of tapering me off the medication. Two months later, I started passing out and hitting the floor when I stood up. This lead to several injuries. After referral to an electrical cardiologist, I was diagnosed with orthostatic hypotension. Ultimately, I reached the point of taking 7 pills a day to raise my blood pressures and 2 a day to lower it.
Not responding well, I was referred to a general neurologist. On my fist first visit, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). I started on medication for Parkinson's. The next month I visited the neurologist again. His diagnosis had changed.....MCI and likely Frontal Temporal dementia. Fortunately, he referred me to an Emory Integrated Memory Care Clinic in Atlanta.
Originally, I was told that I would not receive a diagnosis until my second visit. That changed.....at the conclusion of a 3 to 4 hour visit, I was told I had dementia with Lewy bodies. Just before or just after diagnosis in June 2012, the hallucinations and dream enactment started. Prior to going to Emory, I was experiencing all of the 20+ diagnostic symptoms listed on the LBDA website with the exception of two. It was the 8th physician in 18 months that diagnosed me on my first visit with him.
My initial acceptance of the diagnosis was, "it is what it is and everything will be OK". Three months later, I felt as if I was a convicted murderer. The physician had entered the charges, the jury had found me guilty and the judge had issued the death sentence without appeal.
Eleven months later, I found my purpose in life after my diagnosis. Actually, it was what it had always been during my professional career. I just had a different venue. With Mom having Alzheimer's, my Dad having vascular dementia and now me with DLB, I could help those living with dementia better understand and encourage others that there is life beyond diagnosis.
Amidst the roller coaster ride of LBD, finding acceptance and purpose have enabled me to have a reasonable quality of life. Advocating, engaging with others and computer brain games continue to challenge my brain.
Two weeks after diagnosis, I told my wife that the life expectancy with LBD was not good....the average was 2 to 20 years. I told her that day that I intended on beating 20. We will see where it goes, but I will go down fighting.
My desire is to continue forging ahead, helping others and enjoying life beyond diagnosis.
© Robert Bowles - May 7, 2016
Robert Bowles, Jr.