Showing posts with label Alzheimer's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alzheimer's. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Senior slips or fidgety blips

The phone rang as I was checking one last thing on the computer, right  afterwards I'd  venture out into this grey dreary day for a walk.  I  have nearly conquered this cold that has bothered me a  few days and am really  missing my physical activities while my body demanded a couple days rest to recover.  We are waiting word from a roofer and the contractor  who did our addition in 2007 about a seeping in the roof line over the guest bedroom,  that happened some time ago, we are not sure when but noticed a spot on the ceiling when we had the windows washed this month.  Lots of things going on, but I am used to juggling  many things at once, being a multi tasker driven sort while Jerry is a one thing at a time no rush kind of guy.  I might have known it would be this kind of a day when  I immediately began to gather clothes for a washer load, as I walked out to the kitchen this AM.  Usually I first get a big glass of water, take my meds, and  make a cuppa, but with the cold and sore throat I've  resumed hot tea instead,  likely I am lacking caffeine alertness. 

As soon as I answered the phone and heard Barb, the dental  hygienist who cleans my teeth every six months say, "Pat I expected to see you an hour ago?", I shreiked "OH NO"   I completely forgot my dental appointment  which might not sound like that big of a deal but it is bugging me.  I had to call their office to confirm this appointment a couple weeks ago; it was on my calendars on my  tablet and smart phone, neither of which I use much or look at  while at home and it was on the kitchen calendar which I walk by mindlessly entering the kitchen.  Jerry sits right near the calendar reading the daily newspaper with his morning coffee and usually looks at it and can remind me of things but he said nothing today either.  Well Barb laughed to hear I had just flat blanked out and said, "senior moment?" Because I never miss my appointments, she called to be sure I was alright.  We rescheduled for a couple of weeks from now and I circled the day in red on the kitchen calendar....now I have to look at it.  

I  Googled and reaffirmed what I  have learned that such things can just happen; here's a  link to interesting info on  a Psychology today website.  http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/p/forgetting.htm

Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve and Study
Forgetting like this or being absolutely mindless may seem no big deal, but to me whose Mom had Alzheimer's, I  worry.  I think many of us aging pre and  baby boomers worry about dementia, memory loss, and certainly the big A more than other generations.  We have seen more of it and are more aware.  Jerry shrugged and counseled, "well it's not fatal, no one died, go on about your day, be happy."  I did leave for my walk, out into the misty grey to clear my cobwebs and I started to hum  "don't worry, be happy" the old Bobby McFerrin . Released in September 1988, it became the first a cappella song to reach number one on the  Billboard 100 chart, a position it held for two weeks. It was a philosophy I never quite adopted but here it came back clear as a song.  

Maybe I shouldn't worry about my senior moment so much or is it a blip from my fidgety?  Must I begin to pay better attention, one thing at a time?  Certainly  I must look at that calendar each morning first thing.  Here in retirement I make my own schedule but live a rather uncomplicated routine.  Deliberate forgetfulness or mindlessness?  I have  heard that simply forgetting is nothing to show concern  about unless it becomes routine and or unless one does not immediately recall when reminded, as I did in horror today.  That's my Halloween fright 2013 style. 


Thursday, June 10, 2010

The movie,Iris, about Iris Murdoch

Last night I watched "IRIS" a movie that had long been on my Netflix que. I really don't review movies here on my blog, but because this one was about a subject in which I have intense interest, Alzheimer's, here goes.  Alzheimer’s first surfaced in our family through my mother, who died blessedly of a heart attack at age 80 in 2004 as the diagnosis was made. I read all I can about it, fact or fiction, so this movie about the descent into the disease based on the true story of the life of Iris Murdoch, a British writer and philosopher, was a must see. I enjoyed the movie tremendously, if one can enjoy this subject. Kate Winslett plays young Iris and Judith Dench, who is one of my favorite actresses, plays the older suffering Iris. The film depicts the heart wrenching struggles she and her husband, Professor John Bayley, encounter aging with this disease. He is caring for her as best he can but the film shows he is suffering too and about to go under when the doctors finally convince him to institutionalize her. In fact one heart breaking scene he no longer recognizes a long time friend who returns Iris to her home after she strays off. In another he lashes out at Iris and she turns to comfort him.

I was not familiar with Iris or her works, but Googled her today wanting to know more. Wikipedia clarified Iris really was Irish but lived in England. “…an Irish-born British author and philosopher, best known for her novels about sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. Her first published novel, Under the Net, was selected in 2001 by the editorial board of the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 1987, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2008, The Times named Murdoch among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". She wrote her first novel, Under the Net, in 1954, having previously published essays on philosophy, and the first monograph study in English of Jean-Paul Sartre. It was at Oxford in 1956 that she met and married John Bayley, a professor of English literature and also a novelist. She went on to produce 25 more novels and other works of philosophy and drama until 1995, when she began to suffer the early effects of Alzheimer's disease, the symptoms of which she at first attributed to writer's block. She died, aged 79, in 1999 and her ashes were scattered in the garden at the Oxford Crematorium. She had no children”

Early in the movie there is an exquisite line which Judith speaks, as Iris is struggling to write and the words don’t come….”We worry so about going mad….those of us who live in our minds…surely someone would tell us….” I was struck by that as I fear Alzheimer’s. Writer’s block! OMG a harbinger of Alzheimer’s? I get that, it’s not just words at times, but sometimes block of thoughts, or total impatience and I can’t get started writing. Only I ignore it and go on my way, off to another hobby, gardening if the weather is good, biking, etc. But then there it is and what if? One more thing to wonder about.

 I spent the better part of my career in state government in Health Services and long term care and Medicaid funding. But when this disease began to manifest in Mom, who lived in PA while I was in CA, I was almost as helpless as any person. It is perhaps the most insidious disease of all robbing people of their minds and memories. I will want to read some of Iris’ works sometime. She was evidently controversial.

“ Was saintly Iris Murdoch a rabid political extremist, long before Alzheimer's could explain any outbursts? Writing to the London Review of Books, biographer Jeremy Treglown recalls raising the issue of striking miners with her in the early 1980s.

"I think they should be put up against a wall and shot," declared the author of “The Sovereignty of Good.”

Here are two of her famous quotes:

 Happiness is a matter of one's most ordinary and everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.

Being good is just a matter of temperament in the end.

I learned that Professor Bayley donated Iris’ brain for Alzheimer’s research. He said he and his wife talked about the decision during her final months. That is commendable because still today it is the only way research and a possible cure can occur. And it is only through a brain examination, after autopsy, that the diagnosis can be assuredly confirmed. My ex-brother who lives in PA prevailed and so we did not do that with Mom.   I can’t imagine anything worse than this disease unless it is recognizing you have it when you are lucid!

There is another good movie out as well which I watched some time ago, "Away From Her" featuring Michael Caine, whose wife is  being taken by the dreaded A.