Thursday, October 25, 2007

I must be more tired than I thought today because it has taken me forever to figure out how to log into this blog to post. But, now that I am here.....

The fourth and fifth part of my friend Rich's interview can now be found on Alzforum at this link

I've taken this out of the fourth installment because this hit so close to home for me.

Alzforum: People with high IQ tend to be more difficult to diagnose because they compensate so well.

RB: Yes, the "cognitive reserve" again. I take that to mean that people who had a high degree of intelligence, or high degree of functioning, have to lose more for it to either bother them, or become noticeable to the point where someone thinks, "Okay, something is clearly wrong with Joe." I remember when I got my diagnosis, a good friend said, "Well, you were always too smart anyway. Now you'll be just like the rest of us."
That was meant as a compliment, but it's not very comforting. My friend W. and I often talk about how people will say to us, "Oh, you don't have it." He also had a very high-functioning career. So although he notices his deficits and that he is not functioning the way he once did, others don't see it much, because he is not what people have in their mind as the stereotype of a person with dementia.
To get back to my diagnosis, seeing the results of my neuropsych exam was heartbreaking. My reading comprehension was grade-school level. She had to keep giving me simpler and simpler passages to read. I think I read a seventh-grade passage and got every question wrong. And what did I do for a living? I was an editor. Do you think someone would ever allow me to work in publishing again if I couldn't read a simple passage and retain its meaning? Thankfully, no one is testing me after it takes me 10 times to read an article in the newspaper before some small part of it sinks in."

Rich says things so eloquently. I remember reading my neuropsych evaluation and my heart sank. Not only was this the first time that I saw the words "probably Alzheimer's disease" but it showed my IQ as being very very low. I knew I had a relatively high IQ at one point and I felt stupid. I know I'm not stupid, but I've said many times that this disease makes you feel stupid, because once simple tasks are so hard to do. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not stupid -- the disease is making me do stupid things.

Thanks again Rich for your interview. I know it was a long process but you said everything so well. Best of luck on your conference this weekend.


Dee said...

Thanks for the link to this interview -- I have shared the link on my blog also, and with others. Fascinating interview. The brain is utterly amazing. I found it so helpful to be able to understand what my mom is going through. Let's pray that researchers can find out how to stave off this disease. D

Richard said...

Thank you very much, Kris, for your kind words about the Q&A that the Alzheimer Research Forum did with me.
Please know that the managing editor Gabrielle Strobel contacted me last April 4 and it was not put "live" online until after more than six months of back and forth emails. Again, I appreciate your kind praise. Please be aware that it took great pains and a lengthy process to where it was ready.
Thank you, Dee, for your comments, too.
Thank you very much.
Best Regards --