When Myrna Norman was first diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia 12 years ago, she said she did not even know what the disease was.
“My doctor said, ‘You have about eight years to live; go and get your affairs in order,’” she shared.
“I wailed and was in despair for probably close to a couple of years.”
Norman finally saw fit to call the local Alzheimer’s Society, and bit-by-bit discovered the support which gives her a zest to continue living the best life she can.
Advocacy for reducing the stigma of the debilitating disease, and a commitment to keeping busy, lead her to write a book detailing her experiences.
Dementia Strategies, Tips, and Personal Stories – which she published just before Christmas – is the first book Norman has written.
“I had a desire to do something more, so other people didn’t have to go through that kind of despair,” she said.
Readers will learn about many of the the trails Norman faced.
“Some people have phoned me and said, ‘How can you put that in there? Aren’t those personal things so difficult to write about?’
“But my point of view is, I have dementia, and I want to feel as though I’ve done something for others by sharing some odd, or embarrassing thing that I have done.
“It could make somebody else feel, well, it’s OK, it’s an error, everybody makes errors.”
The book came together surprisingly quickly, she noted.
“My husband, who does not have dementia, helped me a lot,” Norman said.
“But I explained to him that I did not want the sentence structure changed. There was no editing allowed on it – except for blatant things – because I wanted people to read what I was saying, not what anybody else thought was the way to say it.
“I wanted to say it in my own words.”
For now, she is selling the book from her house to keep the price down. Anybody interested in buying it for themselves, friends, or family, can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a teaser, she is willing to give one important piece of advice.
“I believe to the bottom of my soul, that I am living well with dementia because I am so socially active,” she said.
“I’m not afraid to put myself out there and that’s what I want other people to learn.”