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103 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was diagnosed with ALZ 3 months before reading this book., January 29, 2002
This review is from: The Forgetting: Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic (Hardcover)
"Since 1975, the number of Americans afflicted [with Alzheimer's Disease {ALZ}] has risen from five hundred thousand to five million [2001]; over the next fifty years an estimated [fifteen million in the United States alone] will succumb to it."
In May, 2001, I went to my primary physician with some troubling symptoms of recent memory loss. He ordered a CAT scan, and referred me to my psychiatrist, who was supervising my intensive outpatient treatment of Major [unipolar] Suicidal Depression. The CAT scan depicted some small white areas, which could have been the result of undetected minor strokes or tertiary syphilis. Since neither was applicable to my medical history nor my life style, only the remote possibility of ALZ remained. The psychiatrist gave me the Mini Mental State Examination [MMSE], and I scored less than twenty-five. Based on the MMSE results, he then scheduled me for a battery of tests. My suspicions were confirmed: I now have a diagnosis of "probable ALZ" in the early or middle stages. I am now one of the "five million...When "The Forgetting" arrived, I sat down and devoured it from cover to cover in two days! This was most unusual, since two of the early memory symptoms of ALZ are my recent inability to finish a book cover to cover, or to pick up a book or article where I had left off, and continue on the textual journey.
This "magnificent synthesis of history, science, politics, psychology, and profound human drama" was written especially for me, someone newly diagnosed as "probable ALZ." "Delving into such diverse areas as art history, literature, genetics, and neurobiology" Shenk's "The Forgetting Alzheimer's" clear and concise exegesis continues to give me the data I require to comfort an unbelieving and devastated significant other, my spouse.
Like the forty-two stories contained in the newly-published "Fourth Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous," Shenk's marvelous treatise posits what it was like, what happened, and where the afflicted of ALZ are, and gives me experience, strength, and hope. The personal anecdotes, as well as the detailed case histories of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jonathan Swift, Fredrick Law Olmsted, and Ronald Reagan, show me where I have been and what lies ahead in the early, middle, and final stages of ALZ.
Shenk's Yellow Brick Road stretches invitingly ahead of me, and has given me the knowledge and courage to face the challenge ahead: the inevitable, irreversible, and presently incurable ALZ which is now occupying major portions of my hippocampus. Knowing what lies ahead gives me the hope I need to face my confrontation with "probable ALZ." I do not need the false Sirenic lure of: "Maybe, just maybe, my diagnosis is incorrect."
Unlike Dylan Thomas, I propose to "go gentle into that dark night" of final ALZ, and with Shenk's "The Forgetting Alzheimer's" to "be by my side," I now have the data to provide care to/for my significant other, who is devastated by this insidious disease, which afflicts her husband, lover, and strong oak tree, as I go forward and downward into this long dark slide.
There are many, many, books and resources written for and available to the caregivers and professionals who surround those of us afflicted with ALZ. There are few and scanty resources that level with the afflicted party/client/victim. This slender volume meets my needs, goals, and thirst for data and knowledge, in language that is clear and succinct. As I write this review, I am rereading "The Forgetting Alzheimer's" again and again because my short term/working memory ain't what it used to be. With luck and repetition, I hope to implant it in my long term depository, which is currently functioning at an academic level, thank you. That I could finish reading "The Forgetting Alzheimer's" is the best testimony which I can render on its value, as I leave late early stage and begin to progress into middle stage ALZ.
L'chayyim!
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