He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar,
And will whistle to them from the end of the earth;
Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly. Isaiah 5:26
I am something of a snoop. I am also a lifelong learner. In this age of COVID-induced isolation, I have noticed, much to my non-chagrin, that there are countless webinars and Zooms and the like on literally any topic known to man/woman/etc…available and for free!!! I tend to focus on Alzheimer’s Dementia topics (Who knew???) when I visit these webinars and I typically snag at least one a day. Today I stumbled on an extremely interesting one. At the million-to-one risk of getting someone in trouble for admitting a lowly blogger/caregiver like me, I will leave the research hospital out of this, but suffice it to say if I told you which one you would not only recognize it, you might even have one of their sports jerseys. This webinar, likely designed for the medical team at the research hospital, was a post-autopsy brainstorming session (is that a sad brain pun, blog boy?) about a patient who had donated his brain. Here is what was shared, in general terms:
- Age/gender/other similar demographics
- COMPLETE Medical history including multiple scans
- MMSE and other cognitive/memory test results
- Various diagnoses through the life of the patient and the pathology of his disease. These changed multiple times up to the day of his death….and the autopsy may change the diagnosis yet again. (Not the result, just the diagnosis. 😉 )
- Family info, family opinions, etc…
- Other items of note.
I found this fascinating, but sobering as well. I, like the brain trust in the Zoom, played a non-crime CSI as we tried to determine cause of death. These folks were absolutely brilliant with ideas as the history was rolled out. I have little or no doubt that the 5-10 previous doctors in the poor soul’s past medical help were also similarly brilliant. Yet, there was so much change and evolution in his diagnosis and prognosis. “We sort of evaluated the decisions as the history unfolded… The poor gentleman had previously had “typical” surgeries (did the anesthesia speed up dementia…if that is what he had?) and he had hypertension that was semi-treated (Uh oh…vascular dementia? TIA/Stroke?). He fell a few times, related or unrelated to his diagnosis, and that was hard on him. New hip? Yup. Other vascular issues? Yup…….Then they brought out the brain autopsy results. He had plaques and tangles…they had solid proof. It must be classic Alzheimer’s Disease?!?! But, he had Lewy Bodies in his brain. (Recalling the symptoms…yup, he had Parkinson’s-like symptoms and hallucinations…must be Lewy Body Dementia?!?) The hippocampus was atrophied and, along with the plaques/tangles, AD was brought up again. Bloodwork was discussed as well as some other scans. Some pointed at Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease because of Cerebrospinal fluid-based test results and Mad Cow Disease because of some other tests and factors. Cells were examined. Abnormalities were discussed. Injuries were evaluated…all to conclude….wait for it…hmmm, I am not sure.
Thus is the challenge with diagnosing the diseases in our little topic. Is it AD? Is it some other form of dementia? Is it just aging in general? Alzheimer’s and other dementias are NOT a normal part of aging, but the brain does change in aging. There are dozens and dozens of things that happen, especially to seniors, that mimic the disease…and we can never completely rule out other factors. We didn’t even talk about the gut biome. We didn’t discuss several other factors, although we did discuss that the patient was NOT a heavy drinker, which ruled out a few things. Did I miss a final reveal of the diagnosis? Not really…but I did get a super good look at the challenge understanding pathologies of the brain can be. Wow…and I thought information technologies is hard… Being an armchair diagnoser of brain disease while being a fly on the wall is hard too…
Update: Mom was only able to open one eye yesterday during the visit (and that one just a little), according to my brother. She still seemed happy enough and not in pain, but her quality of life is minimal these days as far as we can tell. Stinking disease. 🙁 I hate this for her… I get my 15 minutes (!!!) a week to see her tomorrow and will write about it Friday.
Runnin’ Til I’m Purple– I ran 10.5 miles today and 9 yesterday on the dreadmill. (Note: I do know how to spell treadmill…but this version better describes the activity). I am going to run 5 days a week, now through run day. I am tired and not exactly tearing it up speed/endurance-wise, but I am getting stronger. I haven’t had any injury the whole time I have been prepping so far, which is a huge blessing. Our fundraiser is at $4025 on a goal of $5280. The shirt orders are being tabulated now and the profit will be revealed soon…likely between $200-300. That will put us under $1000 left. 🙂 We’ll get there!!! Thank you for the many who have already helped! 🙂 I just hope and pray a cure is closer today than yesterday. 🙂
Final note: Here is mom’s mixed dementia diagnosis. I will undoubtedly do more Who, What, Where, Why, and When-sday pieces again in future weeks…but this one felt right today. 🙂