Saturday, March 25, 2006

64 invitation, more articles, vet visit

My parents are excited. The person running the study at Yale has invited them, out of all the people enrolled in the study, to speak to some student doctors about what it's like to live with Alzheimer's. I am hoping to be able to go with them. I'll let you know.
I had mentioned to my mother about that article with the hormone Pin1, and she mentioned to the people at the study, and they hadn't heard of it. Wow. You think they'd be more up on the literature than me, huh? So we printed out a copy and she mailed it out to one of the people there who'd expressed interest.
While we were searching for the article, I found a couple of more. Actually found a good source, better than what I was using, for articles.

The first one is about a eye test to diagnose extremely early stage AD.
Goldstein and colleagues have developed two tests that have grown out of recent stunning findings that Alzheimer's disease can be detected early by looking for amyloid beta proteins - a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease found in the brain - in the lens of the eye and its surrounding fluid. The researchers also discovered that the amyloid beta proteins in the lens produce a very unusual cataract, formed in a different place in the eye than common cataracts (which are not at all associated with Alzheimer's. ...

Okay, that is very interesting. Not that it helps my dad, but maybe they can look in his eyes and see if he's got either or both of these things. They've already taken his blood for DNA sampling, right?

Then it goes on to say:
These two technologies could someday be used to develop new tests for rapidly detecting amyloid plaques resulting from prion diseases, including mad cow, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans.

Wait, the amyloid plaque can also be caused by mad cow disease? And isn't Creutzfeldt-Jacob what you get from being a cannibal? That's a little scary.

The second article is also interesting. It posits that AD is actually Type 3 Diabetes!

By depleting insulin and its related proteins in the rodent's brains, the researchers say they have been able to replicate the progression of Alzheimer's disease. This included amyloid plaque deposits, neurofibrillary "tangles," impaired cognitive functioning, cell loss, and overall brain deterioration. All of these are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

"True Alzheimer's disease is a kind of insulin resistance in the brain," concluded lead researcher Dr. Suzanne M. de la Monte, a neuropathologist at Rhode Island Hospital and a professor of pathology and clinical neuroscience at Brown Medical School, in Providence, R.I. ... Whether restoring insulin to the brain can slow or reverse the progression of Alzheimer's is something that de la Monte's team is looking at now in animals. "The results are under review," she said. ...De la Monte is convinced that what doctors call Alzheimer's is really several different conditions under one umbrella. "We will have to develop ways to be certain who has what kind of neurodegeneration," she said.

Well, I'm no doctor, scientist or researcher. But it seems obvious to me how to check this. Do diabetics on insulin get AD?

So yesterday I took my four surviving parrots to the vet. I bring all of them every spring and fall to get their beaks, wings and nails trimmed--April and October, or thereabouts. Of course I had to have Dad's help, if only to get him out of Mom's hair.
I met them for lunch as usual. I was going to suggest a quick lunch, but my mom did it first-she said Wendy's. Fine with me. I get there about 12:10 and there's two empty school buses in the parking lot. My mother walks over to me and says all the children from those two buses are inside Wendy's. There's a good reason not to go inside right there! The noise, the lines, the lack of seats...She suggested walking a couple of doors down to KFC. Fine with me, I love KFC.
My dad immediately starts fretting about the car being locked. He keeps trying the door and looking back. He can't stand that we're leaving the car out of sight. Walk five feet. "Is it looked?" Worried glance back. "Yes, it's locked." Walk five more feet. Worried glance backward. "Is it okay? did you lock it?" "Yes, I locked it." Worried glance. Walk three feet. "Did you check to make sure it's locked?" "Yes, Bob, it's locked."
You can guess what happens. We walk into KFC and my dad says, accurately, "I haven' t been here before." He squints at the menu. I establish that he wants a grilled chicken sandwich. I ask if he'd rather have fries, mashed potatoes or beans. "I don't want all that. I don't want a biscuit." He waves at the menu board. "You don't have to have a biscuit, dad. But do you want french fries? Or do you want some mashed potatoes? How about some green beans?" Too many choices. "I don't want any of that. I don't want a biscuit." Fine, just a sandwich and a soda. I take the empty cups to the soda fountain. He follows me while my mother explains to the bewildered cashier about the AD. I start filling a cup with diet pepsi for myself. "I don't want that." "That's for me and Mommy, do you want orange soda? You like orange soda." (noise of exasperation from dad) "I don't know." "Or do you want regular Pepsi? They don't have Coke." People behind us in line are looking at us like we're a family of lunatics. My dad ignores me trying to pour his soda and looks back at the menu. "Oh, I didn't see all that," he exclaims. My mom pauses in the act of paying, "Do you want something else, Bob?" "Oh, I don't know, I guess not." I fill his cup with orange soda and we go sit down.
There's not enough napkins to keep my dad happy (we get those little sporks in the packet with a small folded napkin.) My mom gets up, gets more napkins. She pours her potato wedges out. My father looks at them. "Are those mine?" She tells him to take them, rolls her eyes at me. I eat half of my mashed potatoes and pass the rest to him. He thanks me and eats them. He finishes the potato wedges. He eats a few pieces of my popcorn chicken. "How much was all this?" "Probably cheaper than Wendy's," I say. My mom tells him: $18. He freaks, we calm him down, I explain how much fast food costs these days.
A couple of hours later, after my workout, I go home, catch my birds ( always fun without help) and load them into the car. Then I pick up my dad and arrange the boxes of birds on his lap. He's always fascinated that Lance is my "original" bird and still alive. (He's 18 years old.) Being a dutiful and kind daughter, I try to make conversation. Seeing the dark clouds, I say, logically, "Do you think it's going to rain?" "Yesterday, " he says, and falls silent. Since it didn't rain yesterday, I'm not sure what he's trying to tell me. "I watered the lawn." he says finally. "That always happens, doesn't it? You water and then it rains. " "Yeah," he says, happy that I understood.
"Is this the way we're going?" He asks me. "Yes." I don't even go there to ask what that could possibly mean.
I start another conversation. "Do you think someday when it's warmer out you can wash my car?" Too many words, too many options. No answer. "Can you wash my car sometime?" Nothing. Unlike my mom, I give up when he doesn't answer.
We get to the vet early. It's busy. A guy comes out crying, a cloth bird carrier crushed in his hand. I think that his bird has died or been put to sleep and have sympathy--my loss of Goober is still fresh and sharp. A week earlier I was crying at that same counter, hugging a plastic bag containing my beautiful sweet baby wrapped in wet paper towels. But I hear them talking about surgery, and then the girl who cried with me over Goober last week comes out and says that the doctor had to do emergency surgery on a baby conure and she'll be a few minutes late. I hope that man's baby gets to live 15 years like Goober did.
We go in only five minutes late, not bad at all. The pathology report is back from Goober's necropsy. She had congenitally defective kidneys. Whether she inherited them from Scarlett (the doctor checks Scarlett's necropsy report but sees no notes of deformed kidneys) or it's because she was a hybrid, the doctor can't say. I look at Zeebo, Goober's brother. "What if his kidneys are bad too?" The vet says she wants to do some blood tests on him and then we can decide what to do, if anything needs doing. We scoop Zeebo out from his box, and I turn my back. I can't do blood, even on a pet, not needles taking blood. The vet says, "When did he start doing this?" and I turn to see him having a massive seizure. I pick him up and put him back into the box and pet him and talk to him. His seizure went on a very long time and he went so limp at the end I thought I'd lost him too. The vet says the seizure will have screwed up some of the bloodwork. Great. She takes care of the little green birds and then we're onto Lance. Predictably, he has a seizure also. I hug him and kiss him and pet him only because I can never do those things unless he's knocked out or seizing. She goes back to Zeebo, extracts his blood, cuts his parts, and he's okay, back in the box. Lance stops his fit and glares at me. He knows that I have taken advantage of him and touched him. He's a funny boy. He'll sit on my shoulder and lean against my face and lick my cheek but god forbid I should pet him anywhere but on his beak.
Zeebo has a couple of siezures on the way home but there's nothing I can do, I'm driving and he's in his box. As we are going down route 5, almost home, my father says, "I can sell some time to do that to your car."
He was answering my question "Can you wash my car sometime?" from two hours earlier.
When I got home, Will took the birds inside. I left Lance in the bathroom so we could have some cuddle time. The little green birds eagerly hopped from the box back into their cage but Zeebo had another siezure. Will didn't know what to do. He just thrust the box at me. I petted Zeebo and talked to him until he calmed down. Trying not to cry, I said, "That's what I was going to do with Goober last week. Just pet her until she came out of it." But she was dead when I got downstairs. Will said Goober's final seizure hadn't been as violent as Zeebo's. Zeebo was so whacked from so many seizures he couldn't even get out of his box. I put the whole box in his half of the cage and went to have cuddle time with Lance. (In the bathroom, away from his cage, he'll sit on me, lick me, and let me pet his beak.) Lance wasn't up for cuddling--he probably still remembered that I took unfair advantage of his seizure--so I let him ride on my head from the bathroom to the birdroom. By then Zeebo had climbed from his box so I took that out too.
Then I went back over my parents' house and did a puzzle. My father put two pieces together. He kept leaving to watch TV so I didn't spend much time with him that night.

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