Wednesday, January 27, 2010

what would you do if you knew?

If you knew that your time here was fleeting. Not just that you might have an illness or a disease, but that your mind was slipping. Your knowledge of your own life would be gone in a matter of months really.

I'd like to think that I'd do everything that I'd always meant to do. That's the cliche, isn't it? Skydive? Run a marathon? Run the chainsaw on my own? But actually, I'd just like to savor what I already have....maybe slow down a little. Definitely spend more time with family. With friends. And a lot of time in coffeeshops with my notebook. And I'd eat only things that I absolutely loved.

It's a scary thought and one that most of us don't want to even contemplate. We can chalk Alzheimer's up as an "old person' disease" but that wouldn't be the truth. About 4 million people are living with Alzheimer's disease and 5% of them develop symptoms before age 60.

In Lisa Genova's novel "Still Alice" we come to know what it would actually be like to be diagnosed at 50 and live with the disease. If you knew the end would come and by then you wouldn't realize it, would you take the steps to do something? Lisa Genova has a PhD in neuroscience and in her research of people with early onset Alzheimer's disease ALL of the people she talked with had contemplated ending their own lives before it became too late. She found that staggering. I think I understand it, don't you?

Lisa is my guest this week on Realgoodwords. Check out this video on "Still Alice"....


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