Husband’s strange behavior reveals unexpected diagnosis - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Husband’s strange behavior reveals unexpected diagnosis

Source: Peggy Plageman Source: Peggy Plageman
Source: Peggy Plageman Source: Peggy Plageman

A Henrico woman thought she'd lost her husband to a mid-life crisis.

When he started swearing and running away, she was ready to leave. Then came a diagnosis she never expected, that explained all of the bizarre behavior.

The pictures of the Plagemans tell a story of 39 years together. Wayne and Peggy met at just 17 and lived the life with two beautiful daughters. He retired from a life of service in the Henrico Fire Department to the Chesapeake Bay.

They laughed often and loved large. He still holds a record for a fishing catch - but considered her the catch of his life.

Until it all went horribly wrong.

Wayne started cursing, moved out to see other women, would run away - and get angry easily, accusing Peggy of outlandish things.

"Slowly I'd say, 'something's wrong,' or it's a midlife crisis or male menopause or whatever," said Peggy Plageman. "We had our ups and downs. We split."

It was blow after blow - until Wayne sat down with Peggy.

"He said, 'something's not right,'" explained Peggy. 

The couple sat down with doctor after doctor, and diagnosis after diagnosis...until they finally got the right one, years of frustration and problems later.

"It's called Frontal-temporal dementia (because it's the front and the sides)," said Peggy. "His was more on the right side, which affected behavior. Rather bizarre behavior."

The diagnosis explained the behavior, but didn't make the situation much more bearable. There is no treatment for FTD or medication to help slow it down.

FTD can impact language, behavior, movement, and emotion.

Here’s a link to more information on the diagnosis, and what the warning signs are:

"Those years in between were horrible," remembered Peggy. "He took out his frustrations on me. You become a trigger. He wanted to escape wherever he went. His hygiene, he didn't want his hair cut. There were times where I was accused of all kinds of things."

Finding a place where Wayne could live and be treated safely was near impossible. He was kicked out of at least one facility, and several other housing options didn’t work out because of his behavior problems. It was expensive and exhausting.

"He knew what was going on," said Peggy. “He wanted to die."

He even tried to take his own life. Try to imagine behaving horribly toward the ones you love, but not being able to control it.

Wayne died slowly, over the course of a long painful process for his family. It was so difficult, saying goodbye was in a way, a relief.

"I knew that he was in a better place and he wasn't suffering," explained Peggy, who acknowledges his death has brought a lot of different emotions. "But it's been a little over a year, and I'm still grieving for him."

Now, Peggy finally has the chance to mourn the man she married and fight for the man she lost. That’s why she's sharing her story - to raise awareness about a medical condition with very little research or funding...and the potential to devastate families.

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