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Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's Reprint Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743205665
ISBN-10: 0743205669
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This first-person account of Alzheimer's ties several powerful stories together. Losing My Mind blends personal history with the fear and pain of developing the disease at the age of 57; it is both a sadly fascinating account of Alzheimer's progression and an attempt for the writer to remember his past before it is gone for good.

While his history is recounted in chronological order, these memories--of his childhood; marriage to his wife, Joyce; their years in writing and politics; his passion for herbs and the growing of a successful business--are interspersed with unrelated musings on everything from his cat's sudden deafness to losing his wallet. Clips from articles on Alzheimer's research are sprinkled around, and statistics like the $174,000 that a patient spends on the disease over a lifetime are sobering. Throughout the book, he clearly speaks of his diagnosis as a "sentence"; the lack of a cure is dwelt on in many sections, and a story about an accidental overdose of his prescriptions is particularly grim.

This is not a book that supplies any "power of positive thinking" messages, but instead shows the daily struggle of a man coming to terms with a terrible disease. Poignant and thoughtful, DeBaggio's life will hold meaning for anyone who has been touched by Alzheimer's. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

From Publishers Weekly

"I have a clear sense of history, I just don't know whether it is mine," writes DeBaggio in this moving and unusual memoir. The author, who has previously written about his gardening business (Growing Herbs from Seed, Cutting and Root), documents his mental deterioration from Alzheimer's. Diagnosed with the disease in 1999 at the age of 57, DeBaggio undertook this project in order to increase awareness of this devastating illness from a patient's point of view. He describes how his gradual loss of memory has impacted his life. For example, after he became confused about how to get to his niece's house, he realized he had to give up driving a car. The increased loss of language has been extremely difficult for a man who once worked as a journalist and a freelance writer. Interspersed throughout the narrative are DeBaggio's recollections of his childhood events that may soon be lost to him. He also describes the disease's negative effect on his wife and grown son. Although DeBaggio provides information on the medical advances that are being made to treat this disease, it is clear that a breakthrough will come too late for him. With this rare first-person account, DeBaggio has made a significant contribution to literature on an illness that currently affects four million Americans.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (March 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743205669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743205665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M KIRK-DUGGAN on September 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a reader who has progressed from mild to moderate Alzheimer's [ALZ aka CRS]since January, 2002; and who is acutely aware of his own Rapid Onset in a Late Onset prognosis, I begged my Caregiver to order this for me asap, which she did. My own CRS has caused me to become unable to view complicated movies such as "Iris" and "Godsford Park" or multilayered television such as "West Wing" or "CSI." Similarly, the ability to complete reading a book more than 3 or 4 pages at a time has departed, never to return. But, like when I received "The Forgetting" by Shenk, I was able to read this 207 page saga, cover to cover, in less than a single 24 hour time span, aka "one day". My window of clarity, which happens less than once a quarter, gave me the grace to assimilate deBaggio's message, just as I was able to do before I became an Emeritus Professor in 1993.
The writing by DeBaggio is superb, his poetry shines on every page! And he has been blessed with outsanding collaborators and editors who polished his rough diamond into the superb blue white gem which "Losing My Mind" is. De Baggio does NOT record a descent to madness, but rather an ascent into a Mount Carmel of shining sanity, despite his testimony to the contrary. The literature of ALZ is overwhelmed with desciptions, diagnoses,and understandings for/of the saintly Caregivers and facilitators who guide our descent into a Dante inferno. BUT, there is next to nothing wherein the person diagnosed with Alzheimer's tells us what is going on inside their crania. "Speaking with Alzheimer's" and "Into the Labyrinth [out-of-print]" are two other exceptions.
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Format: Hardcover
"Losing My Mind" is a well-written book authored by an ex-journalist gone herb-grower who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of fifty-seven in 1999. The book is a personal account of one man's struggle with dementia accompanied by an autobiography. Along with these two themes, Mr. DeBaggio inserts clippings from his own research on the disease in every few pages.
This is a great read for anyone who would like to venture into the mind of someone suffering from Alzheimer's. But be warned, the book does not contain any sparks of hope or messages of positive thinking. Readers are likely to become sad and feel slightly depressed from this book that is probably meant to "share some grief." The book is a sincere , raw and from the heart look at a frightening disease that will most likely affect even more Americans as the "Baby-boomer" generation embarks on its golden years.
This book is a must for anyone who has a family member diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It provides insight into the moods, fears and anger of those suffering from it; this is especially important for families who have trouble getting their loved ones to open up and share what they're going through.
I salute Mr. DeBaggio for having the courage to share his inner-most feelings with all those interested in learning more about this insidious disease. May his fear abate and his arms embrace the love that his family is giving him.
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Format: Hardcover
There is nothing so sad as to see a person who was once consumed with a passion for life, abundant with wisdom and intellect, active, alert and filled with a wealth of personal stories, overcome with Alzheimer's. It is a condition which has overwhelming effects not only for the individual afflicted with the disease, but for family and friends as well.
Few individuals with Alzheimer's write a book about their progressive loss of memory and the associated conditions that go with Alzheimer's. Unless, you personally know someone with the disease, it is difficult to understand how it affects one's social life, their loss of verbal communication skills and their thought process. Debaggio gives reader an inside view and clearer understanding from a patient's perspective of what it is like to live with this devastating disease on a daily basis. The author's courage and strength in the face of adversity will touch readers to their very core. Debaggio deserves a standing ovation for having the heart and spirit to write such a poignant book on the subject, from a point of view only one afflicted with the disease could fully and realistically explain.
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Format: Hardcover
Many of us are willing to put up with a physically debilitating disease. It's not something we look forward to, but we like to think we'll take it in stride when it comes. After all, that's part of the price of getting old. But most of us quake with dread at the thought of losing our mental faculties. There's something about the thought of no longer being in control on the "inside" that is far more frightening than losing control on the "outside."
In *Losing My Mind,* Thomas Debaggio has voiced those fears for us. One of this book's many merits is that he never tries to softpedal the horror of what's happening to him. In this regard, his memoir is very much reminiscent of "Tuesdays with Morrie.* He describes the personal feeling of disintegration and hopelessness, telling us, himself, and his wife that at times all he wants is to be hugged--the whimper of a lost and frightened child. He also describes the incredible burden that his illness places on his wife and son; they, after all, will have to deal with the condition long after Thomas is no longer present. But the book is also a testament to the human spirit and spirituality. The very fact that Debaggio can write such a moving tale while in the grips of a reason-destroying illness, and still find wonder and beauty and joy and humor in life is well worth pondering. His memoir will make readers appreciate life and loved ones.
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