“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” –Mark 10:18
Happy Monday to all! I love a good Monday, don’t you? (Problem is, there ain’t a lot of good ones, but I digress…)
Driving into town on
the Autoban Highway 13 this morning, I noticed, as usual, that I was being passed over and over again. Just a head’s-up…I drive the speed limit (maybe +/- 2-3MPH) and I get passed like I am going in reverse half of the time. Sometimes people even show me their intellect through their middle finger or by referencing my “mother” out their window. I do only drive in the correct lane…yet the hostility. Anyway, there seemed to be a simple solution if you don’t like driving behind me…just pass me.
Then my wandering mind did its thing and thought to itself “Self, what happened to trying the easy solution first? Back in the day that is what we did!” Then my mind raced to a B Rate SciFi from the 1980s whose story was by Steven King. It was called Maximum Overdrive. My stepsister Rachel and I frequented horror movies back in those days and I feel confident I saw this one with her in the living room of our childhood house.
The plot: “A group of people try to survive when machines start to come alive and become homicidal.” This 1987 cult gem won Emilio Estevez a Worst Actor Razzie and a Worst Director one for Stephen King). Not exactly Shawshank Redemption quality here… 🙂
Here is an example scene that was comically gruesome, but at least didn’t have swear words:
This movie is chopped full of gruesome demise examples by seemingly innocuous pieces of electronics/cars/similar things killing people. It was a gem, to be sure… While I don’t recommend it any more than I recommend the Sharknado series of movies due to swearing and adult content, if you can find an edited version, they are entertaining. They remind me in movie form of this Geico commercial:
What do they all have in common? Doing the hard, first, instead of the easy as you troubleshoot a situation. THIS IS A HUGE LIFE HACK WHETHER YOU ARE A CAREGIVER, A COMPUTER TECHNICIAN, OR A PERSON BEING CHASED BY ATTACK STEAMROLLERS OR TORNADO-PROPELLED SHARKS. HUGE!!!
How does this relate to our topic of dementia? 2 ways:
- Keep it simple: Does it help to try to correct your loved one who is forgetting things? I mean…if you work really hard, you might be able to convince him/her for a day or two that his/her long-passed parents are indeed deceased. But he/she will forget anyway. Instead, why not roll with it and go along? There are a million different, similar things in caregiving. Start with simple…and work to the harder. Another example: Someone asks for the first time, perhaps, if they can help you. Pull an easier/success-giving item from your help list (NOTE: have a list of things that peoplke who want to help can do so you don’t have to come up with it on the fly.) Success breeds success. Many want to help, but don’t know how. Give them something easy and let them work toward the harder. I know this may take more work, short-term, but it will pay big dividends later. 🙂 Another example: Simple schedules are better than complex ones. We get grandoise plans to take our loved one to the mall, then out to eat, and then to get a haircut. In our mind they will have fun, be fed, and will have some needed hygeine done. In their mind the disrupted routine storm can potentially wipe out all plans. Instead, ease in one of these things at a time.
- Cures and treatments for dementia– This set of thoughts may seem, as is typical for me, like a stretch, but I don’t think so. The brain is super complex. Extremely. We know more about the planets or the floor of the ocean than some parts of the brain. However, keeping it basic and working toward the harder seems to me to be a great strategy on finding a cure/new treatments. “What do you mean, Blog Boy?”, you might rightly ask. I mean please, friends, use common sense when arm-chair web scouring, like I do, looking for a mystery cure for dementia. The cure will be worth $Trillions! It will be shouted from every Hulu commercial and billboard when a cure is found. Your coconut oil and Tumeric CBD gummy may be just peach…but it will not cure dementia. In summary, be careful. Be skeptical. Easy things MAY be scams. However, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Oh…..and, are you a researcher? Never jump to the hard before considering the easy. Never assume what is not safely being able to assume. I LOVE the Washington University (St. Louis) and the KU ADRC folks among a few other research ADRCs. I have sat in on many, many webinars and several more academic endeavors and two things jump out: they are much smarter than the one typing the keys right now…and they do typically consider the easy and the hard…in that order. I worry, though, in brain research (academics) about the influence of two things: 1. emotion…we really NEED a cure… There is tremendous pressure to find something that fixes this mess and get it approved ASAP. Aducanumab (Aduhelm) is a good example. This drug likely shouldn’t have been approved, from what I see, but we are desperate. 2. Hyper-brainy folks being so intellegent that they may lose track of the easy in favor of the hard, assuming that either all easy options have been exhausted or that less sharp geniuses are already over-examining the less hard. I have listened to many things being proposed that made me think “Wouldn’t (easier) option B be a logical thing to try before?”. However, I am a computer guy and not a brain guy (insert your joke here. ) and am not a scientist. I have wondered, though, for some time, if having a panel of non-scientific, but intellegent, multidisciplinary, common sense-heavy folks to brainstorm about dementia research after investigating it for a while, would be helpful….or would they just get in the way. Sometimes just jumping out of the way of the typically slow steamroller IS A GOOD OPTION. (If that doesn’t make sense, you may have skiped my video above.) Maybe there IS a vitamin or an exercise or a something right in front of our nose that would help the disease, or even cure it. I doubt it…and it sets us up to snake oil salesmen, which are available in spades these days….but what if?
I am going to St. Louis Wednesday and Thursday to continue being part of this clinical study: LINK. While there is nothing brand new about doing a longitudinal study (a long-term study that examines changes over time and with a look at a variety of factors so that, if something happens, we can retrace steps to see possible causes.). There are many hundred doing the same thing I am in this study…and that excites me. If hundreds/thousands were offering data, all things can be investigated, from the easy to the hard, by the science community. While “Big Data” is a scary, nefarious term these days, and rightfully so sometimes, it can also be used in a fantastic way…and my hope is that it will in our case. I have a VERY long psychometric test Wednesday and Thursday I have a lumbar puncture. Then, in a month, I have all sorts of imaging (MRI/PET) done on my brain. This seems so common-sensical to me and, therefore, is very exciting. 🙂 Please go to Trial Match on the Alzheimer’s Association website, and take a good look around. We need people of all stripes, races, genders, health statuses, and the like. The more data, the better.
I hate this disease, folks. I really do. I am sure you feel the same way. We all have a role in beating this thing, but beat it we will!
Update: Nothing new to report. Thursday she was more alert and happy than she has been for some time. That brings me soooo much joy. There are still sparks of the old mom in there, but I still love the new mom all the same.
(A bonus comment about keeping it simple: If you or a loved one is showing signs of dementia, TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR. There are dozens of things that can mimic dementia and, especially if you are aging a little, don’t assume it is dementia. A UTI or other infection, stress, medicine interactions, and many other things can cause some warning signs. The advantages of knowing are common sense: a cure if it isn’t dementia, more access to advanced drugs the earlier you catch it, more time to plan, financial preparation, last directives explanations… Talking to the doctor can’t hurt, but it sure can help…and not knowing won’t make it go away any more than hiding behind the wall of chainsaws helped the kids in the Geico commercial. Please do it…and, if the doctor is disinterested, get a second opinion.
(sorry for the swear word): If this happens, get out of the way! Don’t just stand there!
Another analogy is one I use in the computer repair world when people ask whether they should put an expensive, super-powerful antivirus on their already slow/sickly, 10-year-old computer. When asked, I respond: “Were you aware that there are two main ways to get rid of head lice??? You can use medicine and wash them out…or…you could catch your head completely on fire. Both kill headlice. Using the heavy antivirus is catching your head on fire to get rid of headlice. Keep it simple.
When I run long distances, I don’t think about the long distance…I think about the next few steps…and then the next few steps…and then the next. Keep it simple… Eat the elephant, one bite at a time.