College of the Atlantic professor Steve Wessler.College of the Atlantic professor Steve Wessler.I’ve decided to share my diagnosis with as many people as I can. I do this because when we don’t talk about it, people with Alzheimer’s like me become isolated.

I have Alzheimer’s disease. Of all the diseases I could contract, Alzheimer’s was the one I feared most. It strips you of who you are. Your memories drain away, for some with speed and for others over a longer period of time.

My trajectory from the first sign that something was wrong to where I am now has been several years. I teach courses on human rights issues at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, where I also live. Before my diagnosis at 71 years old, I found that I struggled to find words during class. I became adept at simultaneously talking and searching for a word. I developed this skill while working in Kosovo and other countries. I had excellent interpreters, but I realized that every time I spoke a sentence with three or more words, the risk of there being a translation mistake increased. Over time, it has become increasingly harder to find words.

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