Saturday, October 10, 2009

Writing About Alzheimer's

My mother died from Alzheimer's in 1987. It was 8 years after she was diagnosed. She died 5 days before her seventieth birthday. She was diagnosed when she was 62. We really don't know exactly how long she had it before the diagnosis was made. By todays definition she had what is known as Early Onset Alzheimer's disease. (It stated before she was 65 years old.)
Back then 20-30 years ago, it used to be called pre-senile onset (before age 65) or senile onset (after age 65).
Interestingly although Alzheimer's was disocvered 100 years ago, there was a time when dementia, of almost any cause, was known as "senility". There was a time when we just used to call it "hardening of the arteries of the brain".

In 1979 when my mother was diagosed with Alzheimer's disease, no one that I knew had ever heard of it. I was 17 at the time and certainly my high school buddies had never heard of it.
I started to write a memoir about it in 1988, less than a year after she died. I was in my last year of medical school and got a little side tracked with finishing the book. I put it aside for almost 20 years. In the mid 2000's I went back to it. I do not know why exactly, I certianly did not have the luxury of time to work on it. I still worked on it however. Perhaps it was becouse I was a father myself, and I started to think about the legacy that parents leave.

In the early 1990's somewhere in my psychiatry residency I authored a short story about my mother's AD published in Bereavement Magazine- Colorado Springs, Co. ( I think it has a new publisher over the years and from what I can find it is now called Living With Loss Magazine)

I used to present at a lot of AD conferences around the area in the late 1990's and early 2000's, and sometimes I would finish up the presentation by reading this short story.

I realized the short story (only a few hundred words) tracing my mother's entire AD journey was not enough, but figured I would never get to finish the book.

1 comment:

karen said...

Someday You will finish your book.
When the time is right and you are ready it will get done. Good luck.

Talking about the book with the Lake Superior wind....... a calm day