We spend hours, days, weeks and months spreading the word about The Queens Cup and how much fun it is. How you and your family and guests need to come out to Mineral Springs to have an amazing and unforgettable day. We are constantly telling people how beautiful it is out here and once you experience it, you will come back year after year.
We say that because we mean it and believe it. However, here at Team Queen’s Cup, we know there is a deeper and bigger meaning to the last Saturday in April. Our primary focus and reason for being around. That reason is charity. This year, for the fourth year we are working with The Alzheimer’s Association. It is something the whole team holds very dear and it is something that is personal to us all.
Although we love to give to The Alzheimer’s Association and we want to make everything better with it, every so often we see or hear something that makes it all so real again. It takes it beyond money and effort and brings it right to your front door.
We have recently received this letter from a long-time patrol judge Casey Hamilton. Casey and his wife Sandy are currently living with this tragic disease. Sandy has been diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s and is Casey is now her full time care giver. I encourage everyone to read his story. We would also ask you to remember why we do what we do.
See you at the races.
Everyone is aware at one level or another of the dreadful nature of Alzheimer’s disease. The numbers are only going to grow, so if this helps someone else prepare for or cope with the illness, it is worth telling the story.
In retrospect, the illness was slowly creeping up onus for up to five years before we decided we were possibly in real trouble. Sandy’s role in our business became more and more difficult, the accounting and organizational management beyond her ability. This for a woman who had been a Vice President at a Fortune 500 company. She began to repeat herself in social situations, broke down in tears dealing with the accountants, and oneday could not find her way to where I was waiting for her to pick me up.
Our first diagnosis was stress and depression, perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. A close friend who had not seen her in several years observed that she was suffering from serious mental deterioration, much more than could be explained by depression. We still functioned well together as partners; I lowered my expectations, and our lives were slowing down anyway.
I have never been this old before, so coping with aging is an endless learning process. We dialed up the medical attention and after extensive testing concluded/confirmed the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease, all at great cost and with no solutions, cure or treatments offered. The medications prescribed may or may not help slow the disease. I can only hope that Sandy is more comfortable with them.
Too much leisure lead to too much drinking and the inevitable DUI. While the charge was eventually dismissed, it lead also to Sandy being put in a managed care facility. While the dog and I visited almost every day, it still took six months to get her back home. The legal and medical costs were astronomical. Two good things came from this experience: I learned that if I wanted to care properly for Sandy, I need to care for myself too. We have professional help looking after Sandy twice a week so that I can do errands and have some time to myself, and I do not drink.
I cannot predict the future beyond knowing that Sandy’s physical deterioration will continue. It has been slow but regular and I can only think inevitable. She and I are still on good terms, and caring for her is just part of our day. If we share a smile, a joke or a laugh, it is a good day. The people who have cared for her during the past months have said she is happiest when I am around, one of the few things I can control easily. I will continue to care for her myself for as long as she will accept me, keeping her here in our home where I know she feels safe. I can always insert more professional home care, so institutionalization is an option for the distant future.
These have been my choices, willingly made, hopefully correct for us, for now. This devastating illness crept up on us. We were not feeling old and had no history of it in either family, yet here it is. Sandy is only sixty two, so especially not fair to her, but fairness is net really part of life. We are lucky to still have each other.