Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Doctor Who Googled

Hold on to your Namenda! Watch your Aricept! Replace your Excelon Patch! This just in! I went to a new ALZ Physician this week. We began with the usual drills, counting backward by sevens, recall of objects and pictures and colors. I began to feel as if there was no hope, when my new physician began telling me all about myself. He had Googled me, and he was reviewing my achievements in business, my interest in birds, and all the other things one can find on the internet. It was a simple thing to do, but no one had ever done this to me. It was almost as if I was being treated like a person, rather than a patient. While it may not matter with regard to my disease process, it surely affected my mental state, and it gave me a strong shot of hope to be able to have a human interaction with my doctor, rather than a clinical description of my (possibly) gently declining condition. I recommend to anyone this simple "Google test" before any visit to the doctor. Another victory for the consumer, courtesy of a smart physician!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Every Eagle Has It's Stream

Bear with me. Somehow I will find a way to make this relevant. So yesterday, a Sunday, I got back from Church, which was uncharacteristically interesting---something about the physiology of death and what happens when you start messing around with ideas about what happens to your body and your soul, if there is such a thing...in any event, as a devotee of the natural world and all its mysteries, I decided to take my soul down to the river...not to pray, not to wade (a little too cool), but to see what I could see...I am an inveterate bird watcher, and as soon as I got to the spot where I could park my car, I hopped out and plunged into the trail-head. As soon as I got into the path, a fully mature Bald Eagle passed right over head, heading downstream--just an aside, I have now realized that every stream in this area now sports a Bald Eagle territory...I have not found the nests, but I am certain that there are defined territories along this stream as well as others in this headwaters of the Little Gunpowder stream AND its more commonly referenced Gunpowder river (larger and more commonly noted in Northern Baltimore County). So, we have a highly functional river system in this area, and the birds are as plentiful as they could be. Not a news flash, but maybe useful to some.
The real interest comes in the fact that this stream system is intertwined with a bygone transportation corridor of significant complexity. There are sizable earthworks that remain...100 foot track beds crisscross the area, with small tunnels at the base to let water through the derangement. In other areas, massive abutments show the way the railroad crossed the stream coming down and back to and from Harford and Baltimore Counties...I am not an historian, but this relic of a bygone "high speed" transportation corridor creates an eerie feeling of connection to the past, and a reminder that all is fungible, doomed to decay, and merely patiently awaiting the next whole-scale change in technology and progress. We know but a little, and what were certainties inevitably become relics. We do not get to choose our time. We cannot have perspective on our own future. Loose garments. The evolution of species. The way of the world in seconds, hours, days, years, decades, eons, and infinities. Look to thyself for a glimpse of eternity. Hic Finis Est.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Early Alz Support Group

Last night's ALZ support group was the best in a while--there were some new folks, and there was a decent and funny conversation--I ran into someone who lives near my house, which was interesting but not awkward. The usual group was there, plenty of food, and some good laughs. The longer I have to get used to this odd label, the easier it becomes to carry. I feel no stigma, and I think it proper to go ahead and disclose my condition, if for no other reason than to help others accept the diagnosis, and better yet, to revel in the ability to think, laugh, love, spoof, wonder, despair, rage, cry insanely, and otherwise live the best life I can. I think that is the definition of NORMAL. And I am enjoying each moment as they come. I just received a call from a colleague who was sort of tentatively wanting to show his support --he was shy about his call, and he is a man much older than I, but when we had talked for a bit, as always, we realized that we are still the same people, trying to have a good experience, sharing the good times and the memories...I don't go maudlin, there is plenty of fun left in this life, and I think I'll get out of the office, head home, and see if I can scare up some birds to watch--it is the tail end of the fall migration, and as an avid bird watcher, there is no time like the present for catching the hawks. It was a good day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Wandering" is not a dirty word.

When I hear the admonition to make sure that ALZ afflicted folk shouldn't "wander" I bristle a bit. I get the point that at certain stages of decline it is sometimes dangerous to oneself and stressful for a caregiver to let the Alz afflicted family member "wander". But in my experience of wandering, I have to say that there is extraordinary therapeutic benefit to being out of doors, wandering, as Wordsworth put it, "lonely as a cloud." I have spent my life wandering aimlessly among the streams and hills and rocks, often wading in rivers up to my waist, in the cool days of Summer and the the crisp afternoons of Fall. From the standpoint of getting lost, in fact, wandering or meandering along a stream is one of the easiest ways NOT to get lost. The river is one way: you're either going up-stream, or down, which makes way-finding pretty easy. Of course, I always have a cell phone with me, and a day-pack with water, extremely dark chocolate, excellent binoculars, a Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds of North America, and a wad of bum-wipe, just in case!
Aside from the physical benefits of exercise, however, there are myriad joys from observing the natural world. When one takes time to actually see the minnows in the water, or the feathers caught in an eddy near molting geese, there is a sense of connectedness and the joy of creation.