I am a huge fan of the BBC series Sherlock, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss and Andrew Scott among an rambunctious, star-studded cast. In fact, a quick glance of the top of my desk will clearly reveal this love:
“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” –Arthur Conan Doyle…and restated in Sherlock.
It is the truth that my mom has some form of Alzheimer’s disease. It is true. It stinks, but it what it is. Don’t think for a second that I didn’t spend a year deeply in denial, eliminating alternative explanations like Sherlock would have had he been real and had been a much less of an intellectual case study.
Some semi-inductive thoughts I had about mom pre-diagnosis:
Mom had a nervous breakdown of some sorts that caused a short-term issue that would get better with time. She has had undiagnosed depression issues throughout the years and a non-specified behavioral health concern that required a short hospitalization during what we now see was the onset of her dementia (was referred to then as a mild cognitive impairment, some 9 years ago. Maybe all will be better? According to a host of doctors, Nope.
Mom’s thyroid issue was causing problems. She had thyroid surgery decades ago. Maybe that was a cause of her erratic behavior and rapid memory loss? We researched, got her blood workups. All is fine except that it is completely not fine. Nope.
Diet and exercise have always been strong suits for mom. She eats lots of fish, all sorts of veggies, walked 5+ miles most days, did brain/crossword type games, and read a lot. She also played piano as good or better than ever. Surely it wasn’t a slowly coming on condition…it must be the acute symptoms of something fixable…. Lifestyle wasn’t to blame. Nope.
Could it be repercussions of concussions from events that have evaded past discussions here? (Sorry for dragging the “cuss”ing in my wordplay). In seriousness, mom had certainly had concussions from a couple of unfortunate, private events of her childhood. Could her memory/behavior be caused by some traumatic brain injury (TBI) that was just now manifesting itself? The doctor and lifelong scans and history say another big, fat Nope.
Googling around can find you all sorts of explanations. Alzcare.org states “Other conditions which may cause or mimic dementia include depression, brain tumors, nutritional deficiencies, head injuries, hydrocephalus, infections (AIDS, meningitis, syphilis), drug reactions and thyroid problems.” Nope (yes, but nope), nope, nope, nope (yes, but nope), nope, nope, nope, nope (yes, but nope). Pretty much everything in WebMD has been considered. Nope.
Can we eliminate every possible non-Alzheimer’s mimic? Nope.
We can see clearly, though, that the symptoms and the progression of the disease “walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and “You’re Despicable”-s like a duck, it must be a duck? Unfortunately this one is a big, fat non-Nope yep.
So why go through the exercise? I am not Sherlock. I cannot deductively reason which clothing looks good together or much at all about understanding my wife (!)….so what makes me think I can solve mom’s issue like this? Desperation. Please hear me now if you are going to hear one thing I type for you. Alzheimer’s has no cure and no effective treatment. Then…she can’t have Alzheimer’s because it can’t be fixed. Wanting something doesn’t make it so, or it would already be so.
I leave you with 3 Sherlock lines:
Mycroft Holmes: “All lives end; all hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.”
(I disagree. Caring is a huge advantage until the last breath because our loved ones are who they are without regard to what they can or can’t do. Mom is a great mom before and she still is. Caring may cloud my judgement, but I can live with a cloudy judgement…).
“Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is a much more vicious motivator.” — Sherlock Holmes, “A Study in Pink”
My love for mom and loving care of the Sweet 17 can be a somewhat “vicious” motivator to seek the best treatment for them. We visit a lot. We swing by overnight sometimes so that they know that we are available and are paying attention to the care. We wait around to be sure she has her meds. We ask questions. We advocate. We don’t walk away. We viciously and relentlessly pray for them and against death and disease.
“Honey, you should see me in a crown.” — Moriarty, “The Reichenbach Fall”
Oh, for the day that these princesses ditch their dementia shackles and gain their wings and their crowns. Until then we pray for peace and for a cure… and for the (defeated) “East Wind” of death to not appear before it is too late.