The thing about Alzheimer’s is not that it kills you. It doesn’t kill you, not right away. Most people with Alzheimer’s will die of some other condition, no doubt made deadly by the progression of Alzheimer’s, but not Alzheimer’s itself. Of course if nothing else gets you, Alzheimer’s will eventually do you in, but… that’s not the thing. If all it did was kill you, that would be a kindness.
Instead, Alzheimer’s will slowly and steadily steal your memories, steal your knowledge and your skills, your relationships, your personality, your mind, your very soul. It doesn’t kill you. No, it destroys you. It erases you. Piece. By. Piece.
At first it takes the recent memories, then the not so recent memories, then older memories, then older still. People, places, events, all gone. The happy moments, the sad moments, all of it, one at a time. Gone. At the end, if you survive, all that is left is maybe a few distant memories from early childhood.
At first it will cause a little confusion, maybe you don’t know where your keys are, or your glasses. Then you can’t remember if you ate, or if you’re hungry. Then you can’t remember the words to put together your thoughts. Then you can’t remember your thoughts.
At first it you forget the names and faces of your doctors, and your nurses. Then your children. Then your spouse. Then your brothers and sisters. Your family, the only ones would could offer you help or comfort, are gone now, replaced by these strangers who seem nice enough, and they seem to know you, but that means nothing, you don’t know them. Everyone you’ve ever known or loved is stripped away from you, one by one, like they never existed. Everyone. You are left to face your fear and confusion alone. Alone. Totally, utterly alone.
Think about that for a second. In a room, surrounded by friends and family, who love you like no other, you are totally and utterly alone. You must now face your end alone, lost in a sea of strangers.
I’ve lost friends and family to cancer, but you know what? Fuck cancer. At least it has the decency to just kill you. Maybe slowly, maybe fast, but it kills you. It doesn’t dismantle your mind, take apart your very being bit by bit, while it patiently waits for you to die. Cancer is a cute fluffy kitten compared to Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is pure fucking evil. It is cruel and heartless. It is relentless, and without mercy. It is insidious. It will likely take someone you know. And it will tear them apart, in tiny little pieces, until there is nothing left. It. Must. Be. Stopped.
Post Script: Dorothy Wiggins was on of over 82,000 people in the US killed by Alzheimer’s in 2008. Today Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US, killing nearly 100,000 Americans every year. Advances have been made, but there still is no cure, and existing treatments only slow the progressing of the disease. It will still kill you. Follow this link if you would like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association
Post Post Script: Thank you, Seth Rogen, for testifying before Congress, and for using your celebrity to raise awareness.