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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Alzheimer's Disease: Not Just Stupid.
What It's Like To Have AD

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) scares the beejeezus out of me. The thought of my mind deteriorating while my body rambles on is pretty much my personal definition of Hell.

You see,
Alzheimer’s doesn’t just make you stupid. It isn’t just that your standardized testing scores fall. If the effects of Alzheimer’s were merely lowering my SAT and GRE scores, I could deal with that. We’ve all heard the term, “Fat, dumb, and happy.” Doesn’t sound so bad, really.

But the
horror of Alzheimer’s lies in the absence of the ability to string two thoughts together. Thus, items appear out of thin air because you can’t remember that they were beside you a minute ago.

Imagine that a stuffed tiger appears on your bed. Poof! You have no idea where it came from. Might be the C.I.A. or space aliens that made it materialize there.
Now, because you’re lying right next to the stuffed tiger, and because you can’t remember that a second ago you reached over and petted the stuffed tiger, you can’t tell how big the tiger is. It’s next to your face, so that tiger looks full-sized. It’s a man-eating tiger.

And, because you can’t remember that it hasn’t ever moved because it’s stuffed, and because it just appeared out of nowhere again, that’s not a stuffed tiger. That’s a friggin’ tiger that is about to eat your head.

Now there are all these strangers around you in this place you’ve been kidnapped to, telling you that it’s all right if the tiger eats your head, and isn’t it a pretty stripy tiger that’s about to eat your head?

And a minute later, poof! A tiger appears.

That's what having Alzheimer's is like. I can't imagine anything worse.

Next article: How to avoid getting AD.

TK Kenyon

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