Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Brain and I

I'm a little worried about my brain.

I just read this article in December 26th's New York Times: "Finding Alzheimer's Before A Mind Fails" by Denise Grady. In this article, Ms Grady reveals that for years, doctors thought Alziemer's struck it's victims suddenly in old age, when in fact, the disease starts many years before. Some doctors think people with Alzheimer's may have always had it, growing slowly in their brains throughout their lives. There are those that think Alzheimer's is the real culprit behind learning disorders, behavior and memory problems.

My interest in this disease is not unselfish. My great-grandfather, Caspar Fergen became "senile" in his elder years, as did his father before him. His daughter, my grandmother, Kathryn, was also given this diagnosis, which was later re-diagnosed as Alzhiemers. Her son, my father, Vincent, is currently in the throes of the disease. To paraphrase the old saying, "Alzhiemer's doesn't run in my family; it gallops."

The current theory is that Alzheimer's may be a chronic condition in which changes begin in mid- life, or even earlier. Could this be the explanation as to why some things are so difficult for me to learn and remember, while others are aquired easily? Why my memory is so peristantly poor that I have to keep a notebook to keep dates, events and names straight (and even that is insufficient?). Why do I have such bad mobility problems, and no one can seem to agree on what is causing them?

Most scientists believe the only hope of treating Alzheimer's is detecting the disease early and finding treatments to halt it before the brain damage spreads. They would like to intervene even sooner, by identitfying any risk factors, even treating patients preventively if possible.

Unfortunately, the current practice of not diagnosing patients until symptoms develop and become severe is the norm, and by then it is already too late to rescue the brain from damage. There are drugs now being used to slow the progress in some, but do nothing to halt the underlying disease. Experiments are underway to find out if drugs or a vaccine could be used to remove the amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients; the hope is this could stop the progress of the disease.

I'll admit it---this disease is my biggest fear. It killed my grandmother. Failing any upcoming advances in medical science, my father will die from it. And I may die from it--and perhaps my brother. There's something I see in the two of us that I don't see in my other siblings. (Thank God, he doesn't read my blog.)

I know we don't get to pick how we die, but I don't want my Dad's life to end this way. I don't want him to wake up one more morning in a fog of confusion , incontinent, mute and bedridden, completely dependent on others. And yes, I don't want that to happen to me, either. But I may not have much of a choice in the matter.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Boxing Day

Yeah, yeah, I know----it's not that kind of boxing. But come to think of it, it sometimes feels that way when one attempts to brave the stores once more to exchange something. I have a snowsuit I need to exchange for a smaller size (like all good grandmothers, I bought it a little too big), but I don't have the stamina to face the chaos today. Perhaps in a couple of days, when things calm down, and S/O is back from Texas. We've rescheduled our Christmas for Friday, when she comes home. Which I am looking forward to with baited breath---this has been our first Christmas apart, and it's been driving me crazy! But really, how could I miss Baby's First Christmas? Not to mention I had to work.
Note to self: Find a job this year with benefits and major holidays off. I'm sick of working Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

News From The Frozen Tundra

Sorry it's been so long since my last post; there's been a lot of drama surrounding our little baby which has taken a good deal of my time. I've also been babysitting, which is way harder than I remember. Don't get me wrong---I loved it, and I love her. But there's a reason 52 year olds should not have babies...

And then came the ice. Then more ice. Then snow. And more snow. We were stuck in the apartment for 2 days, and no sun for a week, so my SAD went into overdrive.

At least my power stayed on throughout---many around me were not so lucky. Some folks in outlying areas won't have power for another two weeks. That means after Christmas.

I'm going to borrow an idea from my friends at Bitch Phd, and list my Christmas wishes here.
World peace and an end to hunger are a given.

What I Want For Christmas:

1. A REAL job (that means with benefits--unlike the one I have now).

2. A real job for my daughter, preferably with onsite daycare.

3. A major attitude adjustment for grandbaby's daddy.

4. One more day with my Dad, where he remembers.

5. All those people out there to get their power back.

What would you like for Christmas, girls and boys?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Here she is---Molly Alice O'Roark ,

all 9lbs., 8 oz,

and 21 & 1/2 inches of her.

I know it's been a long time since I posted, but it's been a long time to get these pictures.

I heard a saying once that goes something like this;"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."

I totally agree.