Thursday, December 06, 2012

So How Does This Go? (your e-mail)

Sadly, I found out that Alzheimer's does indeed take your muscle memory as well as everything else.

Brad Brasfield sent in a link to a video, though, of a man whose memory literally lasts 30 seconds, due to retrograde and anterograde amnesia. However, his procedural memory was undamaged, so he is still able to play a piano (he is described as an "accomplished musician" by Wikipedia. It's both fascinating and sad: The Man with a 30 Second Memory.

Also, Iain Bruce sent in a lovely and touching story about his grandmother. It's sad, but it's also funny and poignant, and he was kind enough to allow me to share it with you:
My grandmother had the disease in her later years.

When my brother and I were younger, we would call her "Mad Nan", as she was crazy fun, with little things like a spoon with a hole in it in the sugar bowl, and the "just going down to the cellar" trick behind the couch.

As she approached 80, the disease took hold, and she had to move closer to her son, my father, and as it progressed further, in to a (really quite great) care home.

During this period, she fell and broke her hip. We saw her a week later, and she said "let's go out for a walk". She'd forgotten she had broken her hip and couldn't walk. The inability to recognise anyone was heart-breaking, and the love my father showed her during this time was extremely moving.

There were however two moments that were rather lovely.

My brother had a son, and Mad Nan met him for the first time, not knowing any of our names. She sat with the child on her knee, and while we were all a bit choked at four generations of the family being together, she started singing him a nursery rhyme. How did she remember that, but not our names? It was beautiful.

The other moment, which just summed her up: my Dad and I took her to a little café she liked for a tea and a cake. As we were chatting, she took a sad turn, and said, "Well, you won't need to worry about me, I'll be dead soon."

My Dad said: "Well, you never know, Mum, I might be dead before you."

Mad Nan: "Oh, you can't do that, dear, who would drive me around?"

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