A spouse, a mom, a nurse, Leslie Weiser of Bonner Springs stored what she known as “our secret” to herself for months — involving, because it did, the personal lifetime of her husband, Jason, whom she has beloved since she was in highschool.
Till Feb. 20 of final 12 months, the truth is, there was nothing on her new, self-produced YouTube channel, “A Charming Abode With Leslie Weiser,” to recommend it was about something aside from what it stated it was: a suburban mother with an eye fixed for adorning, providing suggestions for making a home a house. Her following at first was modest.
A French toast video: 400 views.
Tremendous Bowl meals concepts: 718.
Some huge early winners: Christmas desk concepts hit 20,000 views; eating room centerpieces hit 30,000.
Then she revealed her secret:
“‘A Charming Abode’ is all about making a house charming,” Leslie stated within the video, sitting heart body and a bit tentative. Blond hair to her shoulders, she wore a black shirt, sat in a chocolate-colored chair in opposition to mocha-colored partitions. Her eyes would quickly mist. Her voice caught with emotion.
“House to me is who you share it with…” she stated. “And who I share it with is my husband, Jason.” She laughed nervously. “I’m going to be a scorching mess on this video,” she predicted, then took a breath.
“Jason has dementia. And much more particular, he has Lewy body dementia. He’s very younger. He’s 45 years outdated.”
Loss of life from any such dementia, second in frequency solely to Alzheimer’s illness, usually comes inside 5 to eight years from the date of analysis, as what are often known as Lewy physique proteins construct within the mind. Jason had been identified with an unspecified dementia in 2018, at age 43. Twenty months later medical doctors gave it a reputation. The couple knew that Jason, a serious within the Air Power Reserve whose issues, they suspected, may need been hastened years in the past by a traumatic mind harm in Iraq, was unlikely to reside one other decade.
“We haven’t actually advised lots of people. …” Leslie says on the video, wringing her fingers. “It’s to the purpose the place we are able to’t actually hold it hidden anymore.”
The video has logged greater than 430,000 views thus far.
Out of the blue, a YouTube channel about beautifying properties has develop into far more: A few devoted couple who met at age 15 and about what, past knickknacks, it actually means to create an attractive residence.
Although removed from a YouTube star, Leslie now has near 44,000 subscribers and, as was her intent, is drawing in sufficient YouTube advert cash that, in June, she might give up her job as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse at Creation Well being Shawnee Mission to deal with a very powerful affected person in her life.
“I really feel like every part occurs for a motive, so I’m going to make use of all of it,” Leslie, 47, advised The Star of her information as a nurse. It was a profession that got here to her late, after she cared for her dying father. “I’m going to deal with Jason as a result of he’s my greatest good friend, and the love of my life.”
She breaks into tears in her video. “This can be a individual that I’ve been with for 30 years. He’s in there, however not on a regular basis,” she says. “So it’s actually exhausting. However we’re so blessed. … We’ve had a tremendous life. And we nonetheless have life to reside, guys. We nonetheless have issues to do. And we’re going to do them collectively.”
About 80% of the 6 million folks with Alzheimer’s illness — 1 million with Lewy physique, plus different dementias — are cared for at home, in keeping with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, putting an typically phenomenal emotional, bodily and monetary stress on caregivers. That Leslie Weiser is dealing with a tough path is hardly novel. Beginning a YouTube residence adorning present as a part of the answer is.
Tons of of constructive feedback instantly poured onto her web page.
“My coronary heart aches for you. My husband died 13 years in the past at 66 years outdated from Lewy Physique. I took care of him till the day he died and I HAVE NO REGRETS!!!!!”
One other: “Many moons in the past Jason was my commander! I … will probably be praying for your loved ones as you undergo this storm!”
Extra: “My husband was younger when he was identified with LBD. I’m strolling this journey with you as I take care of him.”
The Weisers have lived of their Leavenworth County residence occurring 18 years. It’s 3,000 sq. ft, in-built 1996, with excessive ceilings, a two-sided fire, white stone counter tops. They raised their two kids there. Kelsie Vallacqua, now 29 and residing in Olathe, is married, and works as a senior social media analyst. Makayla Troyer, 25, is a Spanish interpreter residing in Florida along with her husband and is quickly to have her second little one. She as soon as competed for Miss Kansas.
On a latest Friday earlier than midday, the Weisers opened their residence to a reporter and photographer simply earlier than Leslie’s 107th video would go up on her website. Jason, 46, was there — quick and stocky construct with a military-style haircut and mischievous smile, like a child about to tug a prank.
“The primary factor that attracted me to Jason is his humorousness. He’s nonetheless hilarious,” Leslie stated.
The brand new video exhibits Leslie adorning her white mantel for spring. “I like the pops of yellow,” she says within the video. She intertwines lemon and eucalyptus garland, locations lemons in a basket. “Yellow is so fairly for spring.”
However among the many movies on autumn candles or whitewashing a fire, those that includes Jason, titled “Residing With Lewy Physique Dementia,” are those that every entice tens of hundreds of viewers.
In episode one, Leslie talks of her fears of going to work at night time on the neonatal intensive care unit, and the way she is aware of life wants to alter. “There are occasions the place our gasoline burner was on all night time,” she shares.
Jason comes on digicam. They converse of his auditory hallucinations: listening to organ music in the course of the night time. Sleep is disrupted. He’s both up on a regular basis, or, his mind exhausted, he sleeps 12 to 14 hours or extra. His arms tremble. In his sleep, his legs transfer like he’s working. His short-term reminiscence is shot. Jason remembers the distant previous, however typically can’t recall what he had for breakfast.
“We don’t actually know the place that is going to go, or how that is going to go,” Leslie says, then turns to Jason. “What do you’re feeling like the long run holds for us?”
He deadpans. ”Diapers.” Then smiles.
“All people’s bought objectives and desires in life,” Jason says. “You’ve bought lots of issues that now begin to slip exterior of your management. And also you understand that lots of stuff you’ve labored exhausting for, the objectives you’ve set for your self, the stuff you’ve needed to do at the moment are not going to occur. It’s what it’s. …
“I’ve needed to understand that whereas I’m nonetheless not fallacious, I’m simply not as proper as I was.”
In episode 2, Jason feedback on the primary video and wonders why his eyes look so “spaced out.” He typically forgets to eat, after which forgets that he has forgotten. Within the month for the reason that first video aired, they seen a variety of acquaintances beginning to child Jason, deal with him otherwise. A part of Leslie’s hope in beginning the channel was to lift consciousness, let folks perceive the explanations behind the modifications in Jason’s behaviors. However they don’t need to be patronized.
“I’m simply me,” Jason says within the episode, then talks about his latest foray with paramotoring, being parachuted up into the sky on the equal of a flying go-kart.
“We nonetheless have life to reside and desires to meet,” Leslie explains. “We don’t have time to waste.”
However Jason admits that the actions put on him out.
In episode 3, the couple reveal extra of the results of Lewy physique, because it’s associated to Parkinson’s illness. Jason’s legs spasm, shaking to the purpose that they wake him up. The muscle in his arms will typically tighten and contort. “It’s like a big charley horse,” Jason says. “You possibly can’t transfer your hand.”
He grows extra confused as his mind’s govt functioning worsens. The youthful the onset of the illness, the quicker it typically takes maintain. Jason begins initiatives, however shortly will get confused and overwhelmed. “Evaluation paralysis,” Jason explains. “I cease and I don’t even know what to do.”
“As a caregiver,” he tells Leslie, “I would like her to cease me and get me to comprehend that I’m doing one thing illogical. Or I have to take a break, refocus and hear, ‘trigger I will probably be cussed.”
One video exhibits a full day of their lives, melding each the adorning and Jason’s dementia. It has thus far drawn 114,000 views. As a lot because the present is about elevating consciousness and taking good care of her husband, she stated, it’s also remedy.
Caregiving is exhausting and isolating.
“With the Lewy physique dementia, l haven’t any management,” Leslie stated. ”However I’ve management in my residence, simply cleansing and adorning. That provides me a way of management. Quantity two, I put it on the market to not really feel so alone. It helps validate what you’re feeling and what you’re going by.”
The Weisers, like others, by no means anticipated dealing with a progressive dementia, particularly at 43.
The 2 met after they had been 15. Leslie Logan went to F.L. Schlagle Excessive Faculty in Kansas Metropolis, Kansas. Jason, whose father was within the U.S. Navy, went to Washington Excessive Faculty. They met in 1989 by a mutual neighborhood good friend, Kyle Gearhart, whose life would finish violently.
“Kyle was Jason’s greatest good friend. He was the very best man in our marriage ceremony,” Leslie stated.
She grew to become pregnant at 17. She and Jason, already planning a life collectively, had been married in Could 1991. Lower than two weeks later, her mom died of lung most cancers at age 53. (Her father would die of the identical sickness 9 years later.) Kelsie was born in November. The following month, close to Christmas, Kyle was murdered for the Ford Mustang that he had painstakingly restored.
“I’ll let you know,” Leslie stated, “as a result of lots of people ask, ‘How do you deal with what you’re going by with Jason?’ It’s as a result of tragedy and loss will not be one thing I’ve by no means handled — all the way in which again to Kyle being murdered. In the identical 12 months, my mother died.”
Upon commencement, Jason enlisted within the Air Power. Collectively, the younger household had been stationed in Maine, then Phoenix, the place Makayla was born in 1996, then Boston the place Jason, whereas nonetheless enlisted, would go on to earn a bachelor’s diploma and, later, a sophisticated diploma at night time from from Harvard College’s extension program.
The household returned to Kansas Metropolis, as Jason, in 1999, left energetic responsibility. He joined the Air Power Reserve, earned one other diploma. He rose by the ranks, grew to become an officer. The household was prospering. He grew to become a enterprise guide. Then, in 2003, throughout one among what could be six deployments lasting three to 9 months, he was stationed in Iraq.
“I used to be standing on the apron of a runway and a mortar got here in and blew up proper in entrance of me, and blew out my eardrums and knocked me out. And that triggered a mind harm,” he stated, though it wasn’t identified on the time. “You recognize, within the army, it’s all about simply rise up, brush it off, get going when you can.”
So he did. In 2008, he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Jason returned residence. Leslie entered nursing college in 2009. Time handed.
As with Alzheimer’s, the exact explanation for Lewy physique dementia will not be identified. A paper printed in 2018 within the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease does present a correlation between traumatic brain injury and the appearance of the disease at youthful ages.
Jason appeared modified.
His daughter Kelsie was considering faculties and, in 2012, would attend Pittsburg State College. She advised her father a number of instances that she was trying on the college. He, nonetheless, stored asking the place she was pondering of going.
“It grew to become apparent that one thing wasn’t proper,” Kelsie stated. A social media skilled, she has her own YouTube channel about her life, infertility and her battle with 4 miscarriages. She gave her mother the YouTube thought.
“It will definitely grew to become like, ‘Are you kidding, Dad? Are you for actual?’” Kelsie stated. “It bought to the purpose the place, like, I genuinely don’t assume he remembers that he’s requested me 12 instances.”
Touring for work, he grew to become misplaced. He’s traveled to Washington, D.C., typically — had the identical routine, stayed on the similar Virginia resort. “I’m calling her, as a result of I discover myself getting off the practice in Annapolis, Maryland,” Jason recalled. “That’s not just a bit bit off. Like, ‘Oh, the place am I? How did I get right here?’”
Medical doctors with the Veterans Administration hospital, Leslie stated, chalked it as much as post-traumatic stress dysfunction from Jason’s deployments. He noticed psychologists and psychiatrists, went by cognitive behavioral remedy. She was at all times skeptical.
“I felt they had been hooked on that,” Leslie stated of PTSD. “And I used to be like, ‘There may be extra to this. There’s something fallacious.’”
He was lastly identified on the College of Kansas Well being System’s Reminiscence Clinic. The analysis hit exhausting.
“Humbling” and “deflating,” he stated he felt, but additionally cheated.
“Not cheated, prefer it’s unfair,” Jason stated. “Everybody will get dealt their playing cards, you cope with the chips as they fall. I had 50 issues that I nonetheless needed to get finished that had been big.”
He dreamed of retiring early, shopping for a sailboat and crusing around the globe.
As a substitute, he has stopped work. He receives Social Safety incapacity. The Air Power nonetheless covers the couple’s medical insurance coverage. The YouTube channel is bringing in sufficient advert cash, $3,000 in some months, $9,000 in others, Leslie stated, that she felt she might keep residence full time.
The sickness will worsen. What medicines can be found are the identical as these used for Parkinson’s illness, to typically assist management motion difficulties. Alzheimer’s drugs typically assist in slowing the cognitive decline.
“There isn’t a option to cease it. There positively isn’t any treatment,” stated neurologist Jeffrey Burns, co-director of the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Middle and director of the hospital’s Alzheimer’s and Reminiscence clinics.
The place Alzheimer’s has a few 10 to 12 12 months common from the analysis to loss of life, he stated, Lewy physique’s is shorter, seven to 10 years, typically much less for youthful sufferers.
On the finish, life is usually taken by issues. Sufferers usually develop into bed-bound. They’ve bother swallowing and drop some weight. Pneumonia develops. Kidneys fail from dehydration.
“It’s bodily points which are instantly associated to the dementia,” Burns stated, “nevertheless it’s not the dementia, itself.”
By then, many sufferers want 24-hour care.
Leslie has not determined how a lot of that, if any, she’s going to present in her movies.
“Jason is my husband and my greatest good friend,” she stated. “I need to shield him.”
The enormity of what she faces is typically overwhelming.
“My mother positively may be very outwardly optimistic,” Kelsie stated. “However I do know, behind closed doorways, she’ll cry to me. She’ll cry to my sister. … My mother’s the kind the place, when she’s upset, I often get a cellphone name. She’s like, ‘Are you able to speak?’ Then she form of simply lets all of it out, and cries it out, and we cry it out collectively. Having that point to only get it off your chest, I feel is absolutely necessary to her.”
By no means as necessary as her aim: To be with Jason, to take care of him, and share their life collectively.
“I feel it simply helps individuals who may be going by an identical state of affairs however not perceive work together with somebody with dementia,” Jason stated of the YouTube channel. “After which the message of positivity. There’s lots of negativity on the earth. There’s lots of unfavorable stuff that comes out on the feedback that’s unlucky.”
Some commenters criticize Leslie on each her designs — “Folks will be so imply,” she stated — and for typically speaking greater than Jason, unaware that Jason isn’t at all times succesful.
“However I feel our channel tries to stay constructive and upbeat and pleased,” Jason stated. “Life is just too quick for anger.”
By no means too quick for magnificence.
“I wish to unfold kindness,” Leslie stated. “It’s one among my favourite issues.”