Monthly Archives: September 2016

the Homeless 

I spoke with several folks while walking across America in 2013, that I assumed were homeless. 

It strikes me now how comfortable I felt with them, and how kind they were. I always felt a sadness come over me when I left. I can remember feeling like I was abandoning a human being as I walked away. 

 I remember some faces and some stories. Some said they were Veterans. 

One amazing fact is they were all appreciative of the purpose of my journey. On two occasions they actually offered money to me. 

The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that at any given time, over 500,000 human beings do not have anything that comes close to resembling a home. 

Some folks believe a lot of homeless folks suffer with dementia. That’s a whole new thought for most folks. 

Alzheimer’s – messages keep me grounded 

Mom and I had occasion to be in the car, alone, for a long time day before yesterday. 

After several minutes she remarked about my phone continually making noise. I explained that it was private messages coming in.They kept coming. She made remarks about it several times throughout the trip. Later that evening she asked if I replied to them all. 

The messages were not about running. The messages were not about places I had been. The messages were mostly from caregivers telling me of their alzheimer’s journey. 

I appreciate the messages.They remind me of the seriousness of alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 1309 folks are being diagnosed with alzheimer’s each and every day. That startling statistic is for America only.

The problems caregivers encounter, are of course, wide ranging. 

I assumed, until recently, that if you had enough resources to put a loved one in a senior care facility, that the stress would drop drastically once they were moved in. Wow, I was so wrong in some cases. I have learned that sometimes one problem can quickly be replaced by another and that the stress associated with the new problem may cause more pain than the previous one. 

The collateral damage from alzheimer’s can be devastating. Caregivers have a lot to manage and sometimes they do it by themselves. Almost all of them have had no training. 

My belief is that we have the best the world has to offer working on each aspect of this horrific disease. That brings some comfort. The lack of government funding for alzheimer’s is a problem, although their has been recent improvements in that area.

Alzheimer’s – a passing

It’s 2:47 am in Roberta, Georgia. A phone call I recieved a few minutes ago was to inform me of the passing of an alzheimer’s patient. This was the father of a friend of mine.

7 years since diagnosis. 4 years of not recognizing his family. The last 2 were in a senior care facility. 

The sadness of loosing his dad is in addition to knowing how fractured the family is due to disagreements along the way.

Their is no cure for alzheimer’s disease. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in America. 

Rest in peace friend. 

Alzheimer’s – fitness

It took an awful lot to motivate me to lose 118 lbs. Almost dying did it for me. My ICU stay helped with the motivation. 

I was pretty slow getting it in my mind that it matters, you know, my health status.

I gotta say though, their was nothing exciting about any of it. I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want all the wires stuck to me again. I didn’t want them sliding the tube down my throat to take pictures of my stomach. Fear was the motivation for me. Yep, I was scared. 

I have read that good cardiovascular health is my best bet to slow down and maybe even stop alzheimer’s disease. Doctors and scientists have told me that, to my face. 

The help I had was the best their is. I am so Grateful! 

Fitness – overall 

In February of 2001 it would have taken a lot to convince me I would lose 118 lbs and be running, jogging and walking.  It wasn’t exciting or pretty, but with lots of help we got it done. 

Fitness – trails

I enjoy immensely jogging on trails. It taxes me if the trail is full of roots and rocks. It excercises a lot of me to do this for long periods. Ah, the long periods have been rare lately. 

Alzheimer’s – where is grandpa?

There was a time when he would call and ask if I wanted to have breakfast at the Waffle House. I love their breakfast and being with him made it even better. Sometimes we would take walks afterwards. 

Those calls stopped one day. It took a couple of weeks for the lack of communication to register with me. I ask mom about it and she told me grandpa doesn’t drive anymore. She said he is forgetting his life. I did not understand what that meant.

The story above is a composite of stories told to me on several occasions. 

Many situations could have caused the same feelings for the little guy. Grandpa could have gotten sick, his car could have broke down, or a plethora of other occurences. With some of those problems I just mentioned, the chances may have been good to return to life as it was and we could see them at the Waffle House again.

 Alzheimer’s does not have a cure.

1,309 human beings are diagnosed with alzheimer’s in America each and every day. 

We need a cure. We need to be told as many prevention techniques as possible. 

The National Institute of Health needs more money. That will come from lawmakers. We, as the electorate, need to tell our representatives we need more resources earmarked for alzheimer’s research. 

Alzheimer’s – could it be the airbags?

Super intelligent beings were sent to earth to find out why we have so many automobile accidents here, and so many deaths, in those accidents.

Hundreds of them came and invisibly studied the problems for months. 

They went back to their planet and wrote this summary. 

We found at almost every wreck a bag had burst out of the steering wheel and caused the accidents. It will not happen again, we secretly removed them all.”

This is a metaphor for what scientists face every day. They search, find things, look for sequence, lose funding, get funding again and hope to carry on. Sometimes it’s with different scientists. 

Over simplified?  Yes, but it’s how I am capable of discerning the situation. 

Alzheimer’s – he angrily said “it’s not the plaque and tangles”

In Boulder, Colorado in 2015, in the morning. 

I drove to a park unannounced. Started jogging on the trail there. I passed a man much older than I. Long hair, very nice clothes. I stopped. No introductions. He said he never comes there in the morning. He went on to say he didn’t know why broke routine. 

We had calm and quiet conversation for a few minutes. Then he saw the word alzheimer’s on the back of my shirt. 

He started speaking very fast and loud. He seemed angry. He told me to go tell them: “It’s not the plaque and tangles dammit. You go tell them.”

He said he needed to leave because he was tired. 

I have no idea. I mentioned this to a few folks later. They said Boulder is the home to some very intelligent people. 

I was supposed to be there, he was supposed to be there too. 

Lots of neuroscientists believe it is the plaques and tangles, but lots believe the plaques and tangles are a result. 

Alzheimer’s – this project is helping because of you

I readily admit that I struggle every day with one thing or another. 

I speak before thinking often. When I realize it, oh boy, what a feeling. 

I am very grateful for the attributes I do have. Even with the God given talent I may possess, I sure have needed the help of many others, and you have always been there.

I am no longer afraid of making mistakes. I make plenty. 

I have found that one of the wisest choices I can make is to listen to others before making major decisions. 

This 52 month undertaking, in my humble opinion, has helped in the fight with alzheimer’s disease. Credit for the success of this project goes mostly to a very diverse group of people. 

I am forever grateful for being allowed to be a part of this.