Last Trip Home (maybe) to Alzheimer-Land

Note: To understand the repeated (“Weiner/dick”) references, see April blog, “Alzheimer’s and Dick Pics.”

Dr. Stephen Cohen (Alzheimer’s expert) says: “I’ve told my patients that something may actually be worse than Alzheimer’s, and that is worrying about it. They could spend the next 30 years worrying about getting this disease and then be hit by a bus at age 100, and as a result of all their worry they will have experienced a much less enjoyable life.”

I had my annual appointment with a neurologist last week. I was sure I had Alzheimer’s, as my mother and grandmother did. My mind was frozen with worry. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t remember what I went into a room to get or couldn’t learn how to operate my new website. I had gotten so dumb I was having trouble following the plot in my thriller novels, even the ones with serial killers, even Stephen King’s latest novel. Stephen King, whom I had risen above years ago!

My soap opera, Days of Our Lives, is the only escape that gives me pleasure now because I can understand it effortlessly. I reinforce the pleasure by Googling Days of Our Lives Spoilers every day, sometimes twice a day. I read the spoilers even though the bad grammar and clichés make me wince. I rise above, or below, my contempt for myself and enjoy the show anyway.

Back to the neurologist, whom I almost forgot (Weiner/dick)—but please note that I used the correct pronoun case, “whom” instead of “who.” I wonder if correct grammar and punctuation will be the last skill to go for me. Will I forget how to use a fork first? I prefer eating with my fingers anyway. Perhaps I will scoop up my greasy gravy or runny fudge with my hand, but I will chastise my hospice nurse for saying, “I feel badLY that you can’t use a fork.” If I tell her that it’s pretentious to use an adverb after a linking verb, will she empty my bedpan in the runny fudge?

Once more, back to the neurologist. I passed, I think; but he asked me to return in six months instead of a year. I like to think he cut the waiting time in half because he has the hots for me and wants to see me sooner. I firmly believe he was distracted by my fame and beauty. He said very few people over 75 publish a book. And he told me several times how good I look. In all modesty, I did look good. I wore my book-signing outfit—my tight, white stretch pants and thin red blouse—with no bra, of course.

I like to think he spent extra time checking my heartbeat with his doctor doohickey (Weiner/dick). He looked deep into my eyes and said that one pupil seems to be whacky—not his word, of course (Weiner/dick). He recommended that I see my Old Dude’s eye doctor instead of going to CostCo for checkups, as I usually do. Maybe he wants me to return in six months so he can check my whacky eye.

I recognized his usual pattern of conversation to check my memory—where did we go on our last trip, what book am I reading, etc. We talked about my newly published book, Last Trip Home, (available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and SheWritesPress). When I gave him a copy I just happened to have in my purse, he seemed eager to read it. He said he wanted to check my language patterns.

If he had asked me to count backwards from 100 by 7s (or by 8s or 9s), as he did last year, I would have refused. I knew I couldn’t do it, even with the formula the OD’s 10-year-old granddaughter taught me. However, when I realized he was going to let me go after no test, I insisted on a verbal quiz. He told me to say all the words I could think of that begin with an A. I predictably led with “asshole,” but then I went on the recite all the multi-syllabic words I could think of, like “assonance” and “assiduously.”

He said I did better than last year when I was asked to recite words that begin with an F. I remember I got distracted by “fuck, fucked, fucking, and fuckable” and could think of only a few more. Last year he told me he would have expected me to score better considering my level of education. I want to believe I don’t have Alzheimer’s, but I have to wonder how reliable his verbal tests are for me, considering my education level. And maybe he was distracted by my perky nipples, however sagging and whapsided.

I’m smart enough to know I’m dumber—and that terrifies me. I keep hoping it’s because of book-pimping stress, but I don’t believe that. I’m not one to end on a positive note.

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