Friday, August 6, 2010

A Moment of Intense Disability...A Connection to Alzheimer's? [From Lois]

Last Friday night I attended a local showing of 2 films, one about mental illness and one about breast cancer. I had been looking forward to speaking with a person involved in the making of those films, and I was taken aback when I spoke with her because that brief opportunity turned into a chemo brain experience. I could barely function, and I was trying as hard as I could. She is an exceptionally sensitive and intelligent woman and recognized that I was having trouble and did her best to make the moment comfortable for me and accept me.
I am still very disconcerted about it because the moment of disability was totally unanticipated and so much greater in intensity than I thought I would experience at this point in time, so distant from actively having chemotherapy. It shocked me not so much because of embarrassment but because those few minutes of intense disability could happen anywhere anytime, in a place where I might be in real danger because of it.

In listening to the interview of you and Dr. Silverman, your episode of suddenly being lost in the shopping center which was so familiar to you, is the kind of vulnerability that I am afraid of. It is a moment of information overload when I am not capable of sorting or tracking or processing the minimum information about what is crucial just in order to be safe. I was in the process of buying a DVD of one of the films offered, with my wallet out, trying to make sense of what I was doing. It took me forever to get through trying to figure out how much cash to pay. I did manage to get the DVD and put my wallet away but my ability to do so was so marginal that I remain appalled. I wonder now if that is going to start happening more and more often. There is a history of possible Alzheimer's in my family.

1 comment:

  1. Lois,

    Thank you so much for your story. You had mentioned Alzheimer's disease at the end of it so I know that's a concern.

    I hope it will help for you to hear that although there are some people who may be at greater risk for developing both Alzheimer's disease and cognitive problems after chemotherapy (these are people who genetically carry at least one ApoE4 allele -- determined through a simple blood test), there is no evidence of any other connection for those who don't carry this gene. And even for those who DO carry it, they're only at greater RISK. That doesn't mean it will actually happen.

    Best of luck to you!

    Idelle Davidson