Saturday, March 29, 2014

Patient Quality of Life

For a few days the eyes of the world were focused on White Plains, NY.

AFTD convened the FTD community for the 2014 AFTD Educational Conference in White Plains, NY. It was filled with the best FTD medical minds in the country, caregivers and those affected with FTD.

Two years ago AFTD decided to break the separation barrier and invite FTD Patients. I was one of 4 that attended that conference in Atlanta. Last year in Utah there were 12 affected with FTD and this year a whopping 36 FTD'ers showed up in NY.  This was the worlds largest congregation of those affected with FTD to date. The phone lines at Guinness records were ringing. I've been lucky enough to meet the same people year after year. We've become friends throughout the year, as well as a barometer to ourselves. A wonderfully realistic and surrealistic exposure of our lives and the shape of things to come. Was also happy to see many of the 90+ from my FTD Patient Support Group come to NY from across the country. It was a show of alliance in support in the fight against FTD and to show the desire that those with FTD want and need there voice heard. Want to be heard that there needs to be a larger coordinated effort in helping FTD'ers get together and that we're not a bunch of crazies that will have a riot. Yes, all of us reach the stage where we can't communicate, but with earlier detection and diagnosis more of us are living longing. Yes, there are those that are 2 years and out, but many are now known to live 10+, 20+ years. Each person has a different degree of awareness and insight. One thing is for sure. We are people sick with a rare brain disease that finds comfort and understanding being around others that sure the same disease and fate. Doesn't matter how different the variants under the umbrella disease known as Frontotemporal Degeneration vary. sd :-) FTD is FTD to those who have it and we see ourselves in each other.

You take the normal person fighting a brain disease and behaving inappropriately, not working, not able to drive and they spend most of there time in bed watching TV or being shuttled to old age centers where there out of place. It's enough to send anyone over the hill. It's a proven fact that FTD'ers in contact with FTD'ers whether online or in person are an immeasurable amount of support. Better for the FTD'er, caregiver and the family. This is the proven ripple affect. I've been running a support group fro 90+ FTD'ers for over two years and this the feedback from FTD'er and caregiver alike. AFTD is  witness to this with the AFTD Director, Sharon Denny being a permanent guest member and the only one in the group without FTD. Members of the FTD Patient Support Group routinely get together. In states like Colorado they meet monthly at an assisted living as well as others. When traveling we constantly reach out to meet one another. Phone calls and little gifts in the mail help. I've met dozens and dozens of FTD'ers in my travels and many have visited me. Yes, this isn't for everyone with FTD, but three's nothing like visiting someone in assisted living who is in there 40's or 50's where the average age is 80+. Many with FTD get placed before there time. This is not a reflection on the caregiver or a societal cause. This is cause and effect by the insidious disease know as FTD. Nothing in the near future will change this, but we can find more comfort for those with FTD everywhere.

36 of 248 attendees at the AFTD conference were those afflicted with the disease. There is a Hebrew word called "Ratzone". It means extreme desire. All 36 had this in common for wanting a better life with happiness and support.

One person from my group suffering from both FTD and AD had Amtrak special services help get her to New York from Delaware. This former genetic researcher made the trip alone. She is pretty far into into progression and showed more guts than anyone I've ever met in my life. Another FTD'er came in with her sons from NJ to pick her up from NY Penn Station and take her to the conference. All to make it to the AFTD conference to learn and contribute. These are my FTD suffererer heroes. 

I'm forever grateful to AFTD for inviting FTD patients as well as having travel grants for those of us who couldn't afford to make the trip.


Every year I host a pre-AFTD Conference Patient/Caregiver dinner the night before the event. This year we had 37 at the dinner. It was at a local Italian restaurant. We took over the restaurant and the dinner lasted 3 hours. Most of us never met each before this dinner and it's amazing how FTD'ers can communicate and blend together. This dinner wouldn't have been possible without Diana Winoker (FTD'er) who made all the arrangements. Diana like me has no caregiver and came in at the last minute and rescued the dinner after I faltered and couldn't organize anything. Diana broke her ankle 3 days before the Conference and still managed to come up from Florida. Cast and all. Diana was also featured in a Alice G. Walton  Forbes  FTD Patient Series. Forbes - Diana Winoker

















We also had a breakout session meeting with the 36 FTD'ers that went on for 90 minutes. We all shared and learned. We understood each other and there was a bit of gruff. Big deal, we have FTD, apathy rules and we continue on unfazed and kept on going. No caregivers or outsiders to be shocked or scared away. There is no way to describe how much this meant to the participants. Sharon Denny led the group with my help. I used to lead it, but am sort of taking a back seat. Just not to sure of myself anymore. I will say that one FTD'er that was having language issues had the most amazing step in rescue I've ever seen in my life. Kudos to Sharon Denny for stepping in and gracefully telling the woman's story while comforting and showing friendship to the person.

One bit of humor from our patient breakout session. One FTD'er laughed about his wife finding his papers in the refrigerator. I disclosed last year a doc whose an excellent friend checked out my fridge for food and found a hard covered book in the freezer. Only in FTD World.

Many FTDpers have behavioral issues and don't do well in a mixed caregiver/patient group setting. It's also tough to coordinate because caregivers need there alone time to vent and get away. I had a caregiver who couldn't take it and left. We're still friends 3 years later with her helping me. If I could I would set up FTD Island for all FTD'ers to go to, but I don't play lotto. Maybe in the future as the FTD population grows, a special wing in Assisted Living Facilities for FTD'ers will be set up, but for now local get togethers would be helpful.

AFTD has set up a network of volunteer run caregiver support groups across North America, but it's extremely rare for those afflicted with FTD to get any support. These caregiver meetings should have a room adjacent for the FTD'ers to get together. This would not only free up caregivers from worrying about there loved ones, but there loved one's would be able to communicate with the only people that really understand or relate to them. A nearby pizza place of Assisted Living where an FTD'er is located would also be excellent locations. Of course this isn't for everyone, but many would be helped. The only way for this to happen would leadership from the top. FTD patient quality of life needs to take precedent. I'm hoping AFTD who has is stretched thin, will step up to the plate and heavily promote FTD'er get togehters. I'm always told to have patience. Change is slow. I've no patience, I have FTD. UCSF has support groups for caregivers and FTD'ers and a few progressive leaders have pushed this around the country. We need a big push. I wish I could do more to lead this charge, but I'm maxed out, with my capabilities slipping.

Last year I brought the AFTD "Food for Thought" program to my FTD Patient Support Group. People with FTD want to join the fight and this would help with awareness, raise funds for AFTD. This would also give those with the disease purpose. I was soon contacted by a fellow FTD'er. Probably the calmest and nicest guy afflicted with FTD. Also one of the smartest people on the planet. (for privacy reasons I won't mention his name or former occupation) He was told he could not participate after volunteering because FTD patients aren't welcome. Ripped the wind out of his sails and part of my heart out. I immediately contacted AFTD who told me they had no control over the Independents that run the programs. For those of you doing these programs I'm hoping in the future you will look at this with an open mind and heart. AFTD, though not in control can lead the charge to change.


FTD is a very lonely disease and there are few resources for those with the disease. Most with FTD have never a met a soul with it. Tough to slowly lose your mind alone.


Comments from FTD'ers about the Conference

I can't remember what was said at the conference although I'm sure it was brilliant. The impact of meeting my fellow FTD'ers was remarkably strong for my unemotional self. There seemed to be an instant camaraderie. Things that struck me were that we are a very insightful group for people who are supposed to be unaware. We are very empathetic with each other, though we may not be empathetic with those who don't share our disease. Even though social skills are not our strong suit, we are social among ourselves because we understand each other. I wish we could all live together.


This was a FTD conference, I have FTD, I so wish I could remember the conference itself more clearly but I am only remembering bits and pieces. What I remember the most is the people and there was a sense of like mindedness. The "professionals" interacted with the people with the disease. Outside of the scientific research, I truly believe the humanistic side to understanding is imperative to correct help. I am grateful for the opportunity to join with that kind of interaction. The most impact I came away from the conference was meeting the people I have come to know through Howard Glick's blog and support group. Their faces, stories, laughter and truth, will be forever etched in my mind



The AFTD conference was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It was very informative, but more than that, was the bonding experience I came away with. First, and foremost, meeting all my fellow FTD'ers, whom I've come to know and love, through Howard Glick's FTD Patient Support Group, as well as those I met for the first time. The atmosphere was one of love, caring, and understanding. We were all there together, with the same struggle. We could be ourselves, and each one of us knew what the other was feeling. There was no judgment or questioning. It just was.
The AFTD organization is so supportive. I had a few AFTD staff members come up to me, introduce themselves, ask me if I thought the information was helpful, and listened to my story. They had a sincere understanding and hope.
I am very much looking forward to next year's conference in San Diego.


It was great meeting people who were brought together for one cause, FTD. I had a chance to meet fellow patients and folks I only knew from the FTD Support Group. The AFTD national meeting was a life changing event for me. I can't wait to see everyone again!

Caregiver comment

My Mom, sis and I all attended the AFTD's national conference on March 17th in New York. It was an amazing experience for all of us. I highly recommend you loved ones contact ‪Howard Glick and see about trying to join his online support group. you must have a firm FTD diagnosis to get in and no one without one is allowed in. My Mom has found so much support, hope, and acceptance in this group. I honestly don't think she would be dealing with life as well without the support of so many others in her same shoes. The conference is in San Diego next year, in April. The AFTD gives travel grants for caregivers and those with FTD to be able to go.



  Additional Comments



Hello Howard,

Thank you so much for all that you are doing..... It was wonderful to meet you at the conference.... I will always remember seeing you and having the feeling that I was truly going to meet the most impressive "rock star" ever..... You are amazing as you give so much to a community in the midst of confusion, pain and loss.   

I co facilitate a  caregiver support group in suburban Philadelphia and after meeting you and attending the conference, we have decided that we need to seriously talk about a group for those with FTD.. You are a true inspiration.    Again, thanks and God bless you. 

Sincerely, 
Sandy 



Hi Howard,

As usual, great job on the blog. You write in a way I comprehend. You made a really great point about the need for more face-to-face patient support time. I believe that as well. As challenging as it was to make the journey, try to keep cognitively present, juggle the money...seeing everyone has been the most therapeutic thing that has happened to me since my diagnosis. Meeting and having that immediate connection with everyone you have brought together through your FB group...amazing!
Thank you Howard.
You have inspired me to try to put together people with FTD I my neck of the woods. I have a plan to chat with my doctors, caregiver support groups in the area, and see who would be interested. I just know that there are people who could benefit from such an experience. I don't know where or how well I will be at this challenge, but try I will. At the same time advocating for the AFTD in order to organize more awareness, fundraisers, ect. Either wish me luck or tell me I have lost my mind!

Howard, I want you to know, that I am here, caring about you. Sometimes I wish I were there, just to show you that I will do whatever I can for you as you continue onward, stumbling at times. I'd be there as fast as I can if you ever need someone there who understands.


Howard Glick Observation

This is my 3rd FTD conference around the country and it's just white people that are there. Not one hispanic, african american or asian present. (maybe 1 or 2 in 3 years).  There's a lot of theories why no people of color or minorities are not diagnosed with FTD. I've written about this before and will again. Truth is it's about who has better health insurance and money. PET scans and getting diagnosed with FTD is an expensive, long process. Those that have money and better health insurance get help. We need more awareness now. It's proven the Alzheimer's has a higher rate of diagnosis amongst African Americans than Caucasian. Logic dictates there would be an FTD population and I'm sure there is. Many out there are being misdiagnosed with a mental illness and what time they have left for them and there families is going down the drain.

AFTD is a small wonderful organizations with not much resources. Thank you AFTD for holding this conference, helping with travel grants and giving many with this disease hope of living a better quality of life with FTD. I look forward to AFTD Conference 2015 in San Diego.

Please visit Lorrie Cox's caregiver blog on the conference including slides of all the medical presentations. I've known Lorri for years and is one of the many that tell me I'm just like there husbands.



Howard


















* I run a private FTD Patient Support Group on Facebook.  The groups for FTD Patients Only and is open to those with a firm FTD diagnosis. The support group is a place where those with FTD can gather in a positive environment and realize there not alone. It's also a source of accurate information which is rare in the quick changing world of FTD. The director of AFTD, Sharon Denny is a permanent guest member. AFTD has been kind enough to open up there medical board to answer member questions. Please email me at howardglickftd@gmail.com to join.
Howard

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My day

FTD is a very lonely disease. Day in, day out you don't recognize yourself and are estranged from those around you. No worse feeling in the world than knowing you love your kids, but don't feel comfortable around them. Of course it's not them nor any of there actions. It's you trying to fit into a person that is no longer you.You somehow try to keep the facade of the old you in front, but it fades. I push the envelope in trying to explore my awareness, but I'm growing tired. Went yesterday to check out a neighborhood gym that has a special $10 a month membership. I was given a tour and shown a treadmill that had a TV on it. Guess asking if it showed porn isn't a normal question. Five minutes ago a sip of my Starbucks drink went straight down throat unregulated. Choking or drowning is now a daily occurrence. I don't keep food at home because I eat spoiled food, food left around and even eat it off the floor. I don't like eating out because my behavior around people gets me in trouble, as well as noise and crowds don't do me well. I pick up food and take it home, but now I'm concerned about choking to death at home. That's fine, have to die somewhere. 

My days are still 7/7. Seven days at Starbucks around 7am. A few hours there and the rest of the day is gravy. Besides speaking to some Sbux buddies my days and nights are alone. Just checked out a woman's butt here at Sbux. Don't even care if it's noticed anymore and really don't give a shit about explaining FTD, awareness cards or anything else when issues occur. Almost got into a fight and the person stopped in the middle and said to me, "your handicapped" and left. Sometimes have happy hour $3 chicken wings at night, but have started swallowing hole bites or choking. I've a girlfriend I see weekly and we have short spectacular times together.

People have brought up Assisted Living.  That will never happen. I'm a social guy who can't be around people. I've met dozens of FTD'ers. Have seen all variants and stages. Have visited FTD'er friends in assisted living and know many there. Nothing like being somewhere and not being able to hide from who you are. I'll pass.

Have been told I might qualify for a scholarship. Spoke to my ex-wife about me now making my funeral arrangements. Have decided on a Jewish burial and Yaffa told me I should qualify for scholarship funeral. That would be nice because if I spend my money now on funeral arrangements and run out of money, then I'll have to eat string beans, choke and be gone. Won't do assisted living or the streets. Has nothing to do with me being Jewish, living in Israel or having fought in the Israeli army. A few months ago I asked my daughter if she wanted daddy/daughter tattoos done. She had a small one on the back of her neck in Hebrew with one of my "quotes."She was very excited about daddy/daughter tattoos. I fought her bone and dog over that tattoo a couple of years ago. I've none on my body and would of never considered one 99.9% of my life. Spoke to Chelsea a few days before the AFTD conference and asked she decided on a tattoo for us. She told me we shouldn't have tattoos done. My son Myles is a religious Jew and in order to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, you need to be tattoo free. This is the least I can do for my son.

Life isn't easy, but no one gave me a happy pass at birth.

Howard

* I run a private FTD Patient Support Group on Facebook.  The groups for FTD Patients Only and is open to those with a firm FTD diagnosis. The support group is a place where those with FTD can gather in a positive environment and realize there not alone. It's also a source of accurate information which is rare in the quick changing world of FTD. The director of AFTD, Sharon Denny is a permanent guest member. AFTD has been kind enough to open up there medical board to answer member questions. Please email me at howardglickftd@gmail.com to join.
Howard

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Giving up Driving

Woke up last night choking. Choking on my own phlegm. Starting to seriously think about dying with dignity.

Contacted my daughter Chelsea a few days ago. She's a sophomore at Washington State University. A straight "A" student. Doesn't drink or party. Both my kids are doing amazingly well and I'm so proud of them, considering growing up with FTD dad. Told Chelsea I need to give up driving and will giving her my car at the end of the Arizona summer. I'd give up driving now, but we're facing the Arizona summer with temperatures routinely over 110 degrees.







I've had people drive with me recently and everyone agrees I'm an excellent driver. To the naked eye I drive fine. People also say they can't tell I'm sick, that I look and act fine. All FTD'ers are familiar with people questioning whether we are sick or not. We are driven crazy that we are so sick, dying of a progressive terminal brain disease and people question or make light of it. Yet, when it comes to driving the same logic doesn't apply. Many FTD'ers have no awareness or insight that there sick and have to have there license pulled. Some states revoke your license immediately upon FTD diagnosis. Many have some awareness won't give up there license do to independence, logistical needs, work, survival or simple human nature. I refuse to be judge or jury on anyone and there decision. I do know what FTD'ers are going through. I've had FTD for 10 years and have been driving. I know it's the right and responsible decision for me no matter how drastic or inconvenient it will be to my life. 

(Thinking about a moped or motorcycle?)

I play the same mind fucking games all of FTD'ers do. Avoid the highway. No long trips. Cut back my driving. Drive  only where I'm familiar with. Drive only a few miles a day and just to the store or restaurant. The illusion of safety and doing the right thing. Then there's reality. I've FTD, it's getting worse and I'm going to need to stop driving. I follow traffic laws like any other citizen. Have my Mini Cooper and have never been cited or pulled over. No fender benders. Have killed numerous insects, though this can never be proven do to window washer efficiency. 

Six months ago I moved deciding I had to leave NYC. Had to move from friends and support systems. Was told I wasn't allowed to move nor drive. I refuse to live my life in fear. Fired my Power of Attorney, moved, upon landing in Arizona went directly from the airport to the car dealership. There is no perfect place to live life with FTD. In fact life sucks with FTD everywhere, but as far as I'm concerned it's a good "sucks" here and I'll make it a good sucks anywhere. NYC is not a place one should live with FTD. Another topic for another time. What I can say is I've absolutely loved my 6 months of Mini Cooper driving. I love sitting on my balcony enjoying the 70 -80 degree weather.

What is life without a car for Howard FTD. Closest grocery store is over a mile away. No family, no friends, no one with a car. Remember I'm the neighborhood nut. So how do I get to docs etc? Public transportation is very limited here, but I'll do what I can and bike it. I don't keep food at home and can't decide what to eat when I'm out. I now regularly choke on liquids on phlegm and liquids. Besides morning in Starbucks I avoid people because of my behavior. Assisted Living? No way. I'm not the Assisted Living type. I'm extremely well educated on AL, have visited many and have many FTD friends there. Not for me. I'm not prepared to rot away. Dying from FTD is horrific. If you don't think I'm not looking at dying with dignity, your out of your fucking mind.

Flying to NYC next week for the AFTD Conference. Will be hosting a breakout session with 23 FTD'ers on "How to make a better life after diagnosed" and addressing the General Assembly with question/answers. Am so excited. There will also be some of the top FTD specializing neurologists and medical personal in the country there. Many of my FTD compatriots from my support group, caregivers I know. Close to 300 people attending.

Will be happy to see Dr. Ted Huey from Columbia presenting. He is one of the top FTD specializing neurologists/neuropsychiatrists in the world. I met Dr. Ted Huey when first diagnosed and he got me off Aricept, which had horrible aggressive side effects. Don't know if he'll remember me, but I'm forever grateful.

* I run a private FTD Patient Support Group on Facebook.  The groups for FTD Patients Only and is open to those with a firm FTD diagnosis. The support group is a place where those with FTD can gather in a positive environment and realize there not alone. It's also a source of accurate information which is rare in the quick changing world of FTD. The director of AFTD, Sharon Denny is a permanent guest member. AFTD has been kind enough to open up there medical board to answer member questions. Please email me at howardglickftd@gmail.com to join.
Howard

Thank you to those that have sent me letters, gift cards, Starbucks, cash etc. They are deeply appreciated. I've dedicated my life to FTD awareness and advocacy. For those that want to help there is a yellow donation button on top of the page or my address below with gift cards, checks or cash. All help is deeply appreciated:

Howard Glick
7791 East Osborn Rd. apt. 170E
Scottsdale, AZ 85251