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A Disease does not Define Me: Living Tapestries, Living with Dementia

Posted Jul 25th, 2015 in Dementia

A Disease does not Define Me: Living Tapestries, Living with Dementia

Let us reach out to others, humanely, kindly, and compassionately, for we are all living tapestries.  We are not defined by clinical coldness, but rather the warmth of each heart beat within us.

Many times in the world of health care, we hear references to people by disease, rather than by person.  How many times have we prefaced a discussion by calling someone a  'diabetic', 'celiac' or 'asthmatic'?

Even more insensitive are the use of these older terms, 'demented' or 'cardiac cripple'.

We are all unique individuals, many living with illnesses or conditions, but these do not define us, or tell our story.  As part of our unfolding journey, we have developed, inherited, acquired or experienced a change in health and wellness.

Individuals living with dementia often feel stigma relating to their diagnosis, which may result in fear, secretiveness, denial, and seclusion.  A cocooning of sorts may unfold, from the perceived risk of judgment, discrimination, or the reactions of others. 

I hope you ponder my prose, a reflection of aging and transition. May we thoughtfully be reminded, that a disease diagnosis does not define us.     

A Disease does Not Define Me: Living Tapestries

Look beyond the outer shell,
A mere vessel for my inhabitance.
Age is polishing my external appearance,
With a cloth dipped in life’s experiences.

Evade judgment, comparisons, even gratuitous thoughts.
What now exists is part of my internal mosaic,
With chosen and inherited pieces,
Mine alone, to carry forward.

So if my mind, or body defies my will,
To live without the encumbrance of illnesses.
I must simply acknowledge the reality,
We are all but living tapestries.

Refer to me gently, in loving tones.
Embrace my aging, as it has been gifted.
Time is bequeathed, as fate would have it,
Heartbeats track the dwindling moments.

Live in faith, with knowledge treasured,
That a disease will never speak my name.
Or define my works, or take my soul,
Or steal the dignity that defines me.

Ann Chartier Elder Pilot

Tapestry artist credits: Maureen Mcilwain

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