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Our View: Kim Martin’s columns touch those affected by Alzheimer’s

Some of the most frequent comments we receive have to do with relating to local Kim Martin’s guest columns about her personal journey and experiences after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in June 2022.

In grocery store aisles, on trails, in emails, readers open up about their own incidents with family members living with Alzheimer’s. Like Kim’s, each account is unique.

This level of interest shows many lives in the Southwest are touched by Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory disorders. We want to know more and Kim delivers.

In our Opinion pages, Kim offers a front seat to changes in her mind. In real time, she explores feelings and grief about expectations she can no longer meet. Endless unknowns exhaust her.

“I don’t have confidence in my ability to explain what I’m thinking,” she wrote on March 24.

She’s had to put down favorites activities that became too taxing or stressful. Things she loved and, previously, defined her. Playing pickleball, reading analytically, attending parties, going to bridge and art classes, following recipes and more.

Loss of experiences that delighted her.

Kim is a former instructor of Asian history, writing and comparative cultures at Fort Lewis College. A confident, lively woman.

People empathize and appreciate her candor about sad feelings. She tugs readers back again and again.

In moments, we get a peek at Kim’s sense of humor, too.

In an initial meeting about potential columns, we spread out pages of drafts with suggested edits. She liked some and denied others. She insisted that certain language and scenes conveyed were precise to what she preferred.

This is one theme running through Kim’s columns: Despite her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, she can be very sharp and the self she knew herself to be.

While bent over pages after two hours of exacting feedback, in a moment when words slipped out before the brain kicked in, this editor asked, “Are you sure you have Alzheimer’s?”

With breath held, it was a regrettable juncture. If possible, words would have stuffed back in.

Kim lifted her pen, looked up and paused. She then she let loose a raucous laugh. From that moment, she set the tone for her guest columns. She would cover all that Alzheimer’s is to her. She promised to be honest.

She spends a lot of ink worrying about her future care. How this will affect loved ones. She will surely be well taken care of, that’s not it. She is troubled about the toll it will take. It will change their lives, too. This bothers her, as she’s normally a caregiver.

Kim’s shared consciousness in Opinion pages has drawn in other guest columnists, including Pat Demarest and Mary Nowotny, who write about their husband’s behaviors, foreign to the men they married. Their insights offer other road maps.

Kim also shines light on insurance struggles, and the need for accessible care and resources in the Four Corners.

On Friday, she spoke about her personal evolution while writing her column:

“The Buddhist concept of impermanence being inevitable is much more real to me now than it ever was. This impermanence is not in the way I planned or wanted it to be, but in the way that has been imposed upon me – as it has on many other people for other reasons. I don’t know what is to come for me, or how it will come, though I know it will be a downward slope from now on as far as my mental capacity is concerned. Now, I must accept what comes as it does. For me this is not about dying, which I think I’m OK with; it’s about how I leave.”

Read Kim’s columns at https://tinyurl.com/4u5pz837. See resources at https://tinyurl.com/4a8nz7yd.