She thought he was cheating and not communicating with her. He was just losing his memory. Learn more about the brain disease that robs people of language and speech.
Erni and Daniel Connolly had only been married a year when Daniel began pulling away from their relationship.
“He started coming home late at night from work,” she said. “He wasn’t intimate with me anymore. He stopped communicating. We went through marriage counseling for a couple years and even then, he would just say, ‘Yeah, I agree with her,’ on every topic brought up. I really felt like he was having an affair.”
Despite counseling, Erni couldn’t put her finger on what was wrong, but after a couple years, Daniel’s father and brother also began noticing changes in Daniel’s personality. They encouraged Erni to take him to a doctor.
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“The doctor gave Daniel a verbal test, and Daniel couldn’t even repeat what he said,” Erni remembers. “Then they did an MRI. That’s when they found a dot on the left side of his brain. Turns out his brain was shrinking.”
Having a diagnosis was a relief, even for Daniel. He knew there was a problem; he simply couldn’t articulate it. “When he saw the picture of his brain, he said, my brain has an error! That’s what’s been wrong with me!’ Erni recalls.
The doctor sent Daniel to the USC Memory and Aging Center at Keck Medicine of USC, where Helena Chang Chui, MD, professor of neurology and an internationally recognized Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment expert, confirmed her suspicions: Daniel suffered from aphasia, an uncommon brain condition that affects a patient’s speech and understanding of language and also dementia, a clinical syndrome of progressive loss of thinking, memory, and other cognitive abilities impairing daily function.