“They all attended Avon schools as well,” John said. “They were also high school sweethearts.”
Nancy’s maiden name is McClain. Her father Adrian McClain died of Alzheimer’s disease.
“She also had a cousin, Dan McClain, that had Parkinson’s,” John added.
About four and a half years ago Nancy started having difficulty finding the proper words for what she wanted to say.
“We realized it was out of the ordinary and we went to a neurologist for an MRI,” John explained. “She has Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA), which is a rare disease. It starts off low in the parietal lobe and affects the language skills and the translation of speech.”
Nancy still tries to communicate verbally, but can’t make the connection from what she’s trying to say to the words that come out.
PPA is a sister disease to Alzheimer’s, but normally has an earlier onset. It usually hits people in their mid 40s or 50s.
“Nancy is 69,” John said. “The disease has been progressing very, very quickly. She is still so loving, positive, and nice.”
The progress of the PPA has changed the couple’s lives, but they are working together to deal with it.
“It evolves,” John said. “I took over laundry for many different reasons. And food preparation. I do all of that. She gets lost in the process and it’s just safer and easier for me to do it.”
One of the daily chores the couple enjoy together is getting Nancy ready for her day.
“I help her bathe,” John said. “She can get in the shower but loses her place. So I do things like give her the shampoo and body wash. She can do her make up. It really is the sweetest time of our day.”
He said these times together are not a chore, but rather a time for them to have one on one time.