Inside Alzheimer’s Disease
By Michael Cook
As family members and friends, we can research A.D. and find out the facts and the implications on how the disease can impact on the sufferer. So I decided to look at the disease from the sufferer’s perspective. This was the challenge because nobody knows what the sufferer is thinking. It’s like asking the question what Heaven will be like. Until somebody returns then we only speculate? When I started marinating the idea of writing this, the first thing that came to mind was it had to be disjointed. It had to have as you might say a lack of concentration. Then came the imagery, I saw myself sitting on the patio in a nursing home suffering in the later stages of the disease. Family were visiting, strangers all of them talking over me as though I’m not there. I’m not there is the keystone to the piece.
It wasn’t long after 10 years gone that Midas came to visit me He was a wizened figure with hanging skin on a skeletal frame and a lifeless white face with horizontal lips that never would allow the corners to rise to indicate a smile.
“I am here for you he said I am your lodger. Do you mind if l stay a while?”
I enquired about his associate, a man in black with a ring of white around his neck.
“Does he have a name your priest?”
“I speak for him. His name is Catharsis, he is here for you because he will become your muse.”
“This visitation or disease is not what I need right now so get out you f— Jackals, I might be wounded but I will heal myself and I don’t need a partition, grill and 5 Hail Mary’s and crucifix to hang myself if I so choose. Don’t you circle me, salivating at the thought that I have no resilience to see you leave this house.”
“Just take a step backwards Michael, you have no muse because you are bemusing and confusing. Are you not bewildering like the beast the jackals seek to feast. You are weak. Your fat is no more when 17 pounds and 10 years exited the door. You smoke like Dachau and drink like a man who has dipped his toe in hell. Your mind is rapidly becoming a Mary Celeste devoid of a future. The priest is waiting… Don’t walk away when I am talking to you. Wrapping yourself in a bouquet of barbed wire really helps doesn’t it? Come on say the words think back to when you were 10 sitting with 12 disciples with somber faces holding their rosary beads, the smell of stale copal hanging in the air like a dead man on the gallows.”
“What do you want me to say Midas, Catharsis, Loneliness, Isolation or whatever the f— you call yourself? Bless me father for I have sinned that I feel so happy I could s—. It’s a start I guess.”
“How often are you this happy when you spend 10 hours asleep on a funeral pyre and the rest of the time sat on the pan listening to your life drop into an ocean of chaos?”
“You know, Midas, you have changed your modus operandi because everything I touch turns to s—. Is this all that’s left in this God forsaken brain? When did my life become an egg timer and how long can the search go on?”
“You will have a good—”
“What day! Pray tell when that will be and how long will that last five minutes, 20 minutes. I don’t have time for mind games. I’m on borrowed time that’s why I don’t sleep because if l sleep I will wake up and I don’t remember.”
“The people who love you will remember.”
Yeah right! You’re such a condescending piece of s—. I can hear them now. Oh it’s genetic you know, it was such a shame to see him like that.”
I put my pen down I am devoid of ideas and three margaritas have addled my brain I will in time, if time is kind, return back to this if I can remember where my bedroom is.
Bless me father it’s been four weeks since my last confession. I have once again picked up my pen and its midnight plus 20 I have now once again picked up my pen and it is midnight plus five. You see if I really concentrate I can remember. What the hell who am I All I know is that I have a shrinking life Do I have a WIFE? And what’s love and who are these people that look at me so forlorn.”
“Michael, Michael, I am here I am not an apparition. I feel your anger, your frustration your inability to process a split second recall. I am your damage limitation.”
“Why the priest Midas? Is it my time or is it my hatred of religion that I disbelieve. You can lie to me because tomorrow I will have no recollection.”
“Michael, listen for a while and try to remember why. If I give you images will you stay a little while? Are you listening to me?”
“Is it time for the chocolate cake?”
“Look at the plate, what do you see?”
“Does that answer your question?”
“Who the f— ate that? I have been here all the time?”
“Let’s scan, Michael. Tell me what you recall?”
“Why is this tea still hot? It’s been sitting here forever?”
“Michael, Michael, your time is near, it’s coming, it’s in your leg and it’s heading north.”
“You’re smiling, Michael, what do you see?”
“A cemetery, a tombstone of love and parents. I see them vividly Mum and Dad and me.
“Michael, what do you see?”
“A log fire, mesquite and a bottle of Bacardi.”
“It could have been journeys end but like you, Midas, I touched it and I froze, how long? I like this—it’s like packing a suitcase of all the best memories in your life.”
“It’s reached your femoral vein.”
“Do I need the priest, have I still got time to do some more packing before I leave. It’s only a small suitcase but if time permits I want to cram it full of good memories to take me to the other side. I am getting chilly. STOP! I see my sister and I am aged nine in the coal house, rubbing our faces, arms and legs with coal because Mum said that we didn’t need a bath. That one has to go into the suitcase. I’m getting tired; I feel something’s going on. Why are they leaving, stay, stay a little while longer, come back, come back to me, come back to me.”
“Michael, don’t close your eyes, it’s in your jugular artery. Look at me. What do you want me to say.”
“Bless me, father, I can’t remember anything.”