Feb

5
2008-02-05
Meet Chuck, Early Alzheimer's


“My name is Chuck, and I have Early On-set Alzheimer\\\'s disease!  I was diagnosed at age 50 by my General Practitioner.   And, I take Namenda, Razidyne and a bunch of supplements to stave off the symptoms.  My symptoms include the following: short term memory loss, inability to speak what I am thinking, falling due to balance and loss of muscle control, and a lot of un-named headaches, which I sometime describe as "electric shocks going through my brain". I have \\\'good\\\' cognitive days, and really \\\'BAD\\\' cognitive days. Thank you for listening.”

Almost sounds like an AA Meeting, doesn\\\'t it? By that I mean, Alcoholic\\\'s Anonymous, not the Alzheimer\\\'s Association. 

Many people have asked me how I know so much about Alzheimer\\\'s disease. I first heard the word "Alzheimer\\\'s" from an Aunt, in August of 1967, I was almost 14 at the time. My Aunt was working very hard to find a name to fit with our "family disease".  My mother had asked her to come and explain it to my brother and I, as she felt that it had begun to affect her.  She was one of 14 siblings, of which 10 died with EOAD. At that time, very few people had heard of  \\\'Alzheimer\\\'s disease\\\'.  It was considered to be a very rare condition. I wish that had been true! 

As the youngest on our family farm, I took care of Mom. I was able to see the disease progress within her as I attended high school.  Mom died in 1973 at the age of 50.  A brain autopsy confirmed the diagnosis. 

After my diagnosis, I realized how much she and I had in common as I have \\\'progressed\\\', or rather, experienced my own symptoms with this disease.  I have what I think of as " ah-ha" moments.  A sudden memory, long stuffed deep inside me, escapes.  I remember watching her fall for no apparent reason. Or, of her looking for her lost glasses, that were right in front of her.  Her many days unable to walk or talk as the \\\'headache\\\' took its time with her. So many reminders of her come from my disease progression.  I feel almost like an apprentice.  I have been well trained how to accept, and deal with this disease, with grace and humility.  Of course, I am little more talkative about it. One of my many failings!

 

Chuck


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