So I’m sitting here in the Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC) for the ADN2 (Alzheimers Disease Neuro 2) at the University of Pittsburgh (UPMC). My dad is part of a study at this alphabet soup of acronyms. I was the official driver for the day as my mom fractured her wrist a couple days ago and can’t drive too much. Basically, what is going on is this is part of a study that will do some analysis and diagnostic testing to determine the presence of amyloid and tau in the brain, which up until now has only been detectable upon autopsy. Hopefully, ultimately, the amyloid can be detected early enough in individuals who may be at risk for developing Alzheimers and be targeted by drugs that can isolate it and eliminate it from the brain.
No Time Like the Present
I’m going to try to use my time to get some writing done since I’m kind of behind on things for the week. I have gone from being lukewarm about Twitter to seeing the beauty of it. It’s like a source of information and inspiration constantly updating in real time with my own little cheering section. What’s not to like about that? My daughter says I’m “addicted” but I wouldn’t go that far. Twitter makes the present moment glaringly immediate, exciting, pleasant (for the most part) and accessible in minute by minute updates full of inspiring words, news to see, links with facts that urgently must be clicked on and explored.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”- Buddha
Most of the time my dad seems “with it” but when engaging him in conversation, midstream he starts to get lost in the words. He starts wandering around in his own mind and the words leave little breadcrumbs of memory that get eaten up by the disease faster each day and he loses track of where the conversation was going and what he was going to say. His words trail off into nonsense. We have to listen very closely for the kernel of essential understanding that lies buried in his responses and find where it links to what is going on outside of him and inside his thought processes. Then we can bring him back into where he is still connected to the conversation and what’s going on at the time.
I catalogue all these thoughts, events and things of interest on my clay tablet/laptop. If ever found by future civilizations, they will no doubt wonder WTF and everything so critically important right now will be about as intelligible and relevant as cuneiform.
Unfortunately my dad’s brain is deciding that things are irrelevant a little too quickly.
Next day (today -Tuesday)
Last night my dad called me in a total panic that he couldn’t find my mother; he had no clue where she could’ve gone. He said she went out for a hamburger at 7:30 and it was 9:00 and was starting to get worried. I could hear how frantic he was. I asked if she had driven anywhere and he said that the car was there. I asked if maybe she was out with the dog and he responded that the dog was right there drinking water. I suggested that perhaps she walked up to visit the neighbors and he said no. I assured him that there had to be a logical explanation as to Mom’s whereabouts, which made him calm down. I of course was concerned but couldn’t get all freaked out, it would only make Dad more panicky. I called my mom’s phone and left a message and she called me about a half hour later. She had been at chorus practice and my dad had completely forgotten about it. At least he remembered to realize she wasn’t there and he remembered my number… but not good.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the moment wisely and earnestly. If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh