Sunday, February 27, 2011

Still Alice

I’d been meaning to start reading more books lately.  I used to read a lot but lately life just got too busy, and I hadn’t really sat down to read a good book in longer than I’m proud of.  When I was in Winnipeg for Xmas my Mom was talking about her mother, my grandmother, and her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.  It’s gotten pretty bad, and I felt terrible my Mom had to watch her mother disappear.  It’s hereditary, and we suspect my Grandpa on my mom’s side was starting to get it as well when he passed away of unrelated issues.  So the chances of my Mom and/or aunts or uncles on that side of the family getting it as well are high, and in turn that means my brother and I have a chance of inheriting it.

We were discussing what it must be like from her perspective, my Grandma’s.  When she was still speaking, she’d often confuse my Mother for her sister, or ask where her husband was, even though my Grandpa died years ago.  I mentioned if I were diagnosed with it, I’d probably commit suicide before it got too bad, to spare my family the despair and burden, and to go out on my own terms, as the person I’d spent a life becoming.  I didn’t like the idea of letting the disease strip away all the memories I’d spent my life building, I can’t imagine anyone who would like such a thought.

still aliceMy Mom mentioned she’d read a book written from the perspective of someone with Alzheimer’s.  The main character also decides she wants to commit suicide before she forgets herself.  I made a mental note to read the book.  It sounded like a powerful book, and I also felt like reading it would help me understand the disease that stole my Grandmother from the people who love her, and what I pray I never have to go through with my own Mother, or put the people who love me through.

A few weeks ago I bought it for my iPad and ended up reading through it in two sittings.  And I can’t recommend it enough.  Very emotionally draining.  It’s tragic but life affirming at the same time, and can be quite scary, but informative.  I recommend it to anyone who’s been affected by Alzheimer’s in some way.  Even if you haven’t, it’s a great read on its own merit.

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