WE’RE GOING TO GET TO MAINTAIN OUR SOULS, YOU GUYS.
Maybe. Look, there’s a very mild development on the Alzheimer’s front, which, in spite of being very minor, I’m very happy about.
According to USA Today:
Researchers announced Monday that an experimental Alzheimer’s therapy has shown it slows the progression of the disease in people with mild cases, bringing them a “step closer” to finding the first treatment and to understanding a cause of the complex disease.
Academic researchers discussed the results of large studies on solanezumab, funded by Eli Lilly, and bapineuzumab, funded by Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy and Pfizer, at the American Neurological Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting. The aim of both therapies is to remove beta amyloid from the brain. The sticky protein has long been thought to be a toxic substance that affects functioning of the brain — similar to how high cholesterol levels damage the heart…
Until now, researchers have only been able to theorize about the mechanisms of the disease. Research is also being conducted on other possible causes, including inflammation and tau, tangles of proteins thought to disrupt communication among neurons’ pathways.
“We are encouraged by the results,” said Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, an advocacy group. “It’s not the home run we wanted to see but this is the first time we’ve seen a slowing of cognitive decline.”
Ashley has already suggested that I begin taking this medication as a stunt piece.
AND I MIGHT.
I know about this because I google “Alzheimer’s cure” approximately every three days. That’s mostly because my family has feeble little brains. I find that periodically I do absent-minded professor things like forgetting to put my shoes back on after I’ve run them through the metal detector in the airport, and I always feel relieved that I am still in my 20’s, because I know 40 years from now that would be the kind of thing that would keep me awake at night.
Really, I would take any disease – any! – over Alzheimer’s. Not just cancer, which I think I would be able to fight. It’s obvious to pick cancer over Alzheimer’s. I would take Ebola. Lou Gehrig’s. Anything. My principal enjoyments are largely the things that Alzheimer’s deprives you of the ability to do first, namely, reading, and writing (not ‘rithmatic, admittedly.) One of the saddest pieces I read about a man developing Alzheimer’s was that he kept the TV on in the background, but he couldn’t follow plots, so it was really just like watching scenery from a train.
I fucking love plots. I love stories.
I hate watching scenery on trains. I always bring a book. My nightmare is being trapped on a flight – or, I suppose, a long train trip – without a book. I have always thought I could handle Lou Gehrig’s disease with some modicum of dignity provided someone made sure AMC was on.
And that is simply the part of Alzheimer’s where you’re bored. That is not the part where you are frightened.
I think anyone who cites Alzheimer’s as being an okay way to go, and there are a lot that do, or soothingly says “well, it’s fine for the person, they don’t know what’s happening” is feeble minded in an entirely different way.
You can’t blame them, though. Practically every time they run a story on Alzheimer’s or advertise for it, it’s always some grandmother seeming a tiny bit vague who then takes whatever (feeble, ineffective) medication is available and then goes and hugs her grandchildren.
I fucking hate the smiling faces of Alzheimer’s. I can only imagine how insulting this would be if I actually had Alzheimer’s. What these advertisements don’t show is the fear and depression that accompanies the earliest stages of the disease and then, later, the full-on terror that is completely understandable.
I think it was Iris Murdoch (a really, really smart lady who fell victim to the disease) who said that developing Alzheimer’s is like being left all by yourself in a very small dark room, with no idea how you got there.
People are surprised that Alzheimer’s victims yell and throw things? Why? I mean, the advertisements, probably, that indicate they’re supposed to be vague but charming hugging machines. They’re not. Alzheimer victims are essentially Liam Neeson in that movie where he responds to losing his identity first by shrieking at black tie parties and then by… I don’t know. Investigating a plot that has something to do with genetically modified corn and assassinating people. No one was surprised that he was angry and driving erratically for that entire movie.
If you’ve ever been black-out drunk, you have probably woken up freaked out and worried about having forgotten 4 hours. Now you have to pretend that those four hours span years.
I just can’t see how that goes along with giggling and eating ice cream with your grandchildren.
And what seems worst to me is how arbitrary the memories you get to keep are.
Of course, memories are always a little bit arbitrary. My first memory isn’t of a sunset. It involves a sunset, though. I would have been about 4 or maybe 5, and I remember being in parking lot with my mother, and seeing what I suppose was a really exceptional sunset. I guess I was really into sunsets, because I was reading a lot of Don Delillo when I was four. No. I was into sunsets because kids like pretty colors. Anyhow, I assume it was good, because I distinctly remember shutting my eyes really tightly and thinking “I have to remember this” and thinking that I could then slip that memory into my brain, kind of like a Polaroid. And it worked! For a while. Then I forgot about a week later. It drove me absolutely crazy. I remember thinking that I could somehow trade a different memory (like one of my stuffed animal’s names) for the memory I wanted.
But you can’t do that.
Even as an adult, you can’t do that. I cannot remember the names of half the people in this office, but I can remember every single word to “I’m Henry The Eighth, I Am”
And now you can, too!
Still, I have come to have faith that my brain – untrustworthy though it may be – will remember the essential things. It will remember the things that make me me. It will remember who my friends are, and who I love, and where I grew up, and the things I believe to be true. Those are the things that I do not need to myself that I have to remember, because I think of them as being imprinted on my soul.
Until I get Alzheimer’s.
This strikes me as the most terrifying thing about Alzheimer’s – the arbitrary nature of the memories you get to keep versus those you lose. You cannot, for instance, exchange the lyrics to childhood songs for the names of your children. That is why I will be naming all my children Hen-ery!
But really, I think every day you lose more, until you are in some awful room, all alone.
I do not mind the idea of dying. I mean, I would gladly become a vampire if I could, but I do not mind the prospect of death so much. But I mind the idea of having to was through a dark frightful abyss before death. I have no desire to be Liam Neeson in that movie that, rather disappointingly, revealed itself to be about corn. So. Today is a good day. And I’m off to see if I can begin taking solanezumab right now.