There is no clever picture to announce this post. Plainly said, more people than ever are showing up with Alzheimer’s or some sort of related dementia. One in two over eighty and many as young as 45 or 50 are diagnosed every day with this tragic disease. This isn’t really good news for Boomers or their children.
Alzheimer’s is a trickster. A very mean and wily trickster. The word, dementia, is from the Latin de–“apart, away” + mens “mind.” I watched Dan’s parents struggle, hide, ignore, accept and then disavow their own dementia. Clearly, they fit the definition of the word. They were “away” from their “minds.” Eventually, they knew only endless days filled with nothing past, nothing future, only the everness of right now.
I watched also my young neighbor in his early fifties who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. He and his wife were valiant against their thief in the night. But in the end, that thief (aka, Alzheimer’s), stole his thoughts, his dignity and finally, his life.
To honor their struggles … to allow a glimpse into their inner workings, I wrote a story entitled, All the Dancing Birds. The unpublished manuscript was a Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary finalist and the inspiration for the name of this blog.
One day I hope for this story to find its way to bookstore shelves. Hopefully before I’m eighty and one way or the other on my own spin of the Alzheimer’s wheel-o-fate.
Alzheimer’s, once a hush-hush topic, is now — at last — being talked about. On Monday, I’m heading out to buy the most recent guidebook to finding an agent willing to look at my manuscript. I just need one someone who’s willing to say “yes” to a fictional portrayal of the dark and twisty corridors that wind through a mind in full-throated Alzheimer’s disease.
This Dancing Bird is ready for prime time and just needs one able-bodied person interested in championing one small story. Until then, I’ll continue to revisit the manuscript until there’s not one errant word contained in its pages. I’ll continue to revamp its synopsis and accompanying query letter until I’m blue in the face.
If that doesn’t work, I still have the nub of that really nice candle that recently turned my dear friend from a possible breast cancer patient into a smiling I’m-too-sexy-for-my-bra woman. Hey, maybe it’ll work for a manuscript that desperately needs to see the light of publication.
Here’s where I place a smiley face! 🙂
When we see what appears to be an increase in some ailment, I wonder if it is because of better record-keeping, a sweeping change in life-style/medical practice, or a result of changes in the enviorment.
Yes, it is a sad thing to see. I’ve always heard that being active and having an active mind prevents or delays the onslaught.
yes, yes! get that manuscript out and about and into the world.
Good thought, Dave, and in many regards you’re spot on. However, experts say that because of the very large number of baby boomers currently “coming of age”, Alzheimer’s disease is expected to explode. Also, the science of the disease indicates that simply being body and mind active doesn’t preclude someone from becoming sick. Think of Alzheimer’s, if you will, as any other disease that happens in spite of our best efforts. I still do those crossword and sudoku puzzles, though. Hey, it couldn’t hurt. 🙂
Thanks for your encouragement, Drew. I plan to get querying very hot and heavy starting this coming week. It’s silly to have a really good story sitting in my desk drawer.
Tomorrow night on HBO is a documentary on Alzheimer’s by Maria Schriver, if you’re interested. I’d also love to read your Alzheimer’s poem that was included in the anthology on the subject. If you get a chance, email me privately. If I can have permission to do so, I’d love to feature it on DancingBirds.
Of course, nothing is “for sure.” One might be predestined towards Alzheimer’s or other illness because of various factors. On a previous job several years ago, a co-worker used to tell about a certain relative and spouse. One ate everything, things that would make a person of today cringe from all the cholesteral laden foods. Yet this person’s count was minimal, while the spouse religiously avoided those “dangerous” foods and had a cholesteral count that was dangerously high. Sometimes stuff just happens.
You are so right about that. I’m one who can relate to the family cholesterol curse — been fighting it for years.
Someone with the power to do so, PLEASE publish this book. It is wonderful, and having just lost my grandmother to it, my family and I cried our way through it–finding peace where there was fear and loss. It has to be told.
Keep posting stuff like this i really like it