June 13, 2006

Warning: Mad Cow Crossing

Six months ago my grandmother died from Alzheimer’s disease. The reason I mention it is because now that Alzheimer’s disease has been spotted in the family, I must take heed.

I came across an article that gave a dozen warning signs to the possibility of Alzheimer’s. Adult children are supposed to apply these red flags to their aging parents. As self-involved as I am I mostly worry about myself, and went through the list to see what symptoms I may have.

The article said if you notice three or four symptoms, action should be taken.

1. Weight loss or weight gain. My answer: yes. I’ve been having a steady weight gain since I turned 35. Slower metabolism and disdain for physical activity? I think not.

2. Neglects personal grooming. My answer: yes. I don’t always floss my teeth, and I certainly don’t take the time to exfoliate my skin the way I should. Could my lack of glowing skin be a sign that I’m losing my mind?

3. A home that’s not clean. My answer: yes. I noticed a cob web floating above a lamp the other day, and there was some lint on the stairway carpet. I used to attribute these to a 40-hour work week and an active social life. Not any more.

4. Spoiled food in the refrigerator or insufficient food in the house. My answer: yes. I noticed a correlation between this item and item number 1 and decided that my weight gain coupled with insufficient food in the house are not due to the fact that I’m eating the food faster than I can buy it, but due to the fact that I have plaques and tangles.

5. Piles of unopened mail or unread newspapers. My answer: yes. Again I attributed my 40-hour work week and booming social life to the scads of unread magazines in the house. Yikes – little did I know…

6. Missed bill payments or changes in finances. My answer: no. This doesn’t ease my mind, though, because Boyfriend is the one who is completely anally-compulsive about paying bills. If it were left up to me, we’d probably be living without water or electricity, judging from the red flags waving from the previous five items.

7. Change in judgment. My answer: yes. For example, I judged Mustang Sally and Sweet Melissa to be good friends, true friends, and friends to the end. I now judge one as a psycho pig bitch from hell and the other a back-stabbing manipulator. Until today, I thought my new judgments of them were well-informed and accurate, but now know that Mad Cow is setting in.

8. Quits activities he or she once enjoyed. My answer: yes. I used to enjoy sucking my own toes and drinking from a human breast. No longer.

9. Friends or neighbors notice a change. My answer: don’t know, don’t care.

10. Unusual physical problems. My answer: yes. Under-developed chest.

11. Can’t manage daily tasks. My answer: no. If they mean can I pee by myself or can I put on my own socks, then I guess I’m doing all right in this item. However, if they mean exfoliating myself, paying bills, and vacuuming the lint off the stairway carpet, I must again answer “yes.”

12. Unable to get help. My answer: no. I’m perfectly capable of getting help, but I’m sure this capacity is quickly diminishing with the erosion of my brain.

I answered “yes” to eight out of twelve warning signs. I’m doomed. Is Boyfriend ready to take on the duties of care-giver? When the day comes (and it will) that all I can do is stare blankly out the window, I hope Boyfriend will at the very least keep that window clean.

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