Inspiration, Acceptance, and Erasing Stigma
A couple of weeks ago, we reposted an article about sharing a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment. This is always a topic of discussion in our HABIT Healthy Action to Benefit Independence and Thinking program. In addition, many of our patients also discuss the changes they see in their abilities when MCI enters the picture. All of these discussions are important and though we try to guide discussions around the pros and cons of sharing a diagnosis and provide support for adapting to cognitive changes, in the end the decisions to share (or not) and adapting to change are really in the hands of the person living with MCI. I see bravery in every single one of my patients as we work together, and they inspire me every day.
In my personal life, my husband and I started watching a television show called The World's Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. Have you guys seen these races? They are insane one week+ races that involve pretty much every kind of terrain and every kind of racing--Biking, running, mountain climbing, swimming, rafting--you name it, and these teams do it. My husband could probably actually do a race like this, but I enjoy sitting on the couch marveling in the achievements of these teams.
A few episodes in, we were introduced to Team Endure and Mark Macy. Mr. Macy is apparently an eco-challenge legend, but he reveals that he's recently been diagnosed with early Alzheimer's disease. He participated in this race with his son and other supportive team members, and it was AMAZING to see him. He was so open, honest, and determined. His team adjusted their race plan to be sure Mr. Macy got a good night sleep every night (rather than racing without sleep as the teams normally do). They adapted and along the way did their part to erase the stigma of cognitive impairment and prove that you still CAN to the things you love (although probably with some adaptation) even with a cognitive impairment diagnosis such as MCI or early Alzheimer's disease. In the end, they had to discontinue the race due to a back injury, but his story was an inspiration to watch.
So, I hope that Mr. Macy might inspire you to be open about your MCI, to join him in eroding the stigma that comes from a cognitive diagnosis, and to keep pursuing your passions--whatever they are--even while acknowledging that how you pursue those passions may have to change.
Thank you, Mr. Macy, for inspiring me (and likely many other viewers), just like my patients inspire me every day.
Who inspires you in the face of cognitive impairment or illness? We'd love to hear!