The Dementia Diary

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The Brain Shock

on May 16, 2012


I was reading today’s post by blurb my enthusiasm and the thing that captivated me, even more than the story, was the picture on the page.

I know that Alzheimers causes the brain to shrink and holes in the brain, but somehow, and don’t ask me how, I hadn’t made the connection that this is actually what happens.  Somehow in my brain this was metaphorical.

I am Bipolar.  A couple of years ago I had a ‘meltdown’.  Much of that year is lost to me.  I describe it as having ‘holes’ in my memory and this I suppose is how I think of the Alzheimers affect.  The holes in an Alzheimers brain are, to me, deep wells that the memories have fallen into.  They are still there but are out of reach.  In a similar way, the way the brain shrinks I thought of as mirroring the way that the Alzheimers sufferers world shrinks.  As they lose the abilities into the well they are less able to interact with the world and so their world gets smaller.

To see a photo of an actual Alzheimers sufferers brain on the page brought home to me how serious this disease is.  It is a very real form of brain damage.  Anyone who had an accident that caused this sort of brain damage could expect, and recieve, medical and social support unbounded.  Should you be born that way the same would apply and every effort would be made to make your ongoing life as comfortable and easy as possible and this would be state funded.  You are, after all, ill.

But the fact is dementia doesn’t illicit that kind of response.  What’s the point in medical or social help?  The sufferers are old.  They’re at the end of a useful life.  They have nothing further to offer.  They’re just ‘a bit dotty’.  But they’re not are they?  They have a very real, very serious illness that is slowly, and thankfully painlessly, eating away their brain.  Families are left to care for the sufferers alone, often at great expense, for what can be decades.

It’s shocking.


4 responses to “The Brain Shock

  1. Thanks for the link. It is shocking to see our brains, the most amazing organ in the universe, in such a state.

    “The holes in an Alzheimers brain are, to me, deep wells that the memories have fallen into. They are still there but are out of reach.” – beautiful and heartbreaking. I wish you strength and great triumphs as you continue your journey.


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