Alzheimer’s etc

I remember hearing the wife of Clive Wearing talking on radio4 about his disease, a severe form of amnesia. Incapacitating diseases are such a thorny problem & so difficult for modern man to deal with. We do believe rightly or wrongly that we are more enlightened these days. Every age will have thought that.

We are living longer but sometimes in the end our minds go. It is something to be afraid of. We look for things which give use some protection against it. It does bring into being the question which goes back to the beginning of consciousness, what is the meaning of life? On the whole people don’t believe in God these days or I suppose the afterlife but at the same time people are looking for meaning in their lives. Life itself is consciousness the awareness of  being an individual being.

I visited my aunt on Saturday. She is coming up to 95 & severely Alzheimered. She sits there either severely sedated or severely struck down with the strange incurable disease.

I gave her a birthday card it said happy birthday from Andrew. She didn’t seem to know what it was. She didn’t seem to know who I was. She said, I have an Andrew as well. I don’t know who she thought I was. She looked at the pictures of the butterflies on the card & pointed to them but she didn’t seem to know what they were. She might have liked the colours. She looked at it but was none the wiser about what it was. She gave it back to me. I said, it’s for you. She did keep hold of it but seemed puzzled. Normally up until now she has been very chatty. Talking nonsense, yes, but chatty nevertheless. She was living in another dimension. She thought she was living in the house she lived in as a child & she thought her mother was living upstairs. She thought she was in charge of the home. All these thoughts seemed completely real to her, apparently. But now these thoughts seem to have left her & she seems to be left with nothing. But she seemed cheerful & still had the same lovely engaging smile.

She has led such an interesting life. She used to be so intelligent. She took part in World War 2.  In 1956 she went to Vienna to help with the refugees from Hungary. She read loads of books, sometimes wrote fiction & some articles mostly on medical matters.

Does life have any meaning for brain damaged individuals if brain damage is what it is? It is almost like anthropomorphising. One just cannot know what is going on in the head of the sufferers in the same way that we can’t know what is going on in the head of dog or a cat. What they do say seems to make no sense except occasionally. When I stood up to go, she said you must come again.

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