Monday, August 14, 2006

91 Vacation-all I never wanted & plaque news

My parents are back from their vacation.
It's destined to be their last vacation.
Two years ago, the year he was diagnosed with AD, my dad complained constantly that he wanted to go home and he had a bad time. Last year we went with them and he complained less. This year I couldn't go because I just took a week off to go to Vegas for the wedding disaster. So my parents took my mom's best friend.
She hurt her leg and couldn't walk. So my parents didn't walk on the beach as much as they like or uptown. Now, they left me behind, or forced me to walk with them, but apparently that's not okay with a friend, just a daughter.
My mom said when my father had to go to the bathroom during the night he'd go out in the balcony instead of into the bathroom (I guess he didn't pee out there, he realized his mistake, but still). He was very confused by everything. Without his newspapers he didn't know what day it was. (I don't know why my mom didn't just buy him a paper--they have newspapers in Massachusetts!). They had a great time on the whale watch--they saw some outrageous number of whales, like fifty, breaching and sounding and even a baby and mommy finback. Did they bring the camera? No.
My father told my mother "no more water" and that he didn't like it there and didn't want to anymore (the beach). My dad's whole reason for going used to be to walk on the beach. I feel sad but at the same time I don't. I tried to explain it to my mom. Yes, he loved the beach. But if he's forgotten he loved it, he won't miss it. Right? Is that mean?
The dog was happy to see them & be home. When I went over Friday night all he wanted to do was play fetch with his toy, the "Baby". My dad was happy to be home too. He even came and worked on the puzzle with us.
But he is clearly fading.
Yesterday we took him out for his birthday, to the Pacific Buffet, where he can get a plethora of "shells" (steamed clams-stinky and yuckky) and shrimp (double yuck). He ate plates and plates of each, dipped in probably a pint total of "red sauce" (cocktail sauce). But he was confused there too, wandering with an empty plate in his hand, even taking the wrong food and being unhappy with it sometimes. I had a plate of fruit, a plate of vegetable lo mein, vegetable fried rice and chicken fingers and then another plate of mashed potatoes with a bun, and half a piece of cake. Me, my husband and my mom had finished eating (including dessert) and paid the bill and my dad was still going back for more shrimp and shells. He eats so much yet he's down to around 150 lbs. My husband said it's because my dad eats mostly protein and fat and hardly any carbs so he's basically on a form of Atkins. That might explain the farts too. Although they haven't been quite as bad lately.
For supper at grandma's he complained when my mother put chicken on his plate. "I said I only wanted green things." And of course my mother had forgotten the salad. Actually she asked HIM to carry the salad and he walked away without it. He ate his warm veggies and the rest of the potatoes (drenched in gravy) and then my mom got him to eat a little chicken.
I took some new pictures of my dad yesterday (look in the sidebar) and looking at them brings on the same feeling of loss and unfairness as looking at a picture of my beloved Zen-zen cat who died 13 days ago. Taken too soon. Not fair. Why should I have to bear all this loss? My husband never knew his father, who died in a car accident when he was 14 months old. I asked him which he would rather have--to watch his father be eaten, or to have him die quickly like he did. He couldn't answer, he said, because he didn't know his father. I asked him about his mother. He said she's already crazy (which she is, but it's benign) but he wouldn't want her to be in any pain. That really didn't answer the question. My dad might not be physical pain but he is in great mental anguish.

Alzheimer's news today:
Scientists have discovered molecular janitors that clear away a sticky gunk blamed for Alzheimer's disease until they get old and quit sweeping up. The finding helps explain why Alzheimer's is a disease of aging. More importantly, it suggests a new weapon: drugs that give nature's cleanup crews a boost..... Nor does anyone know what causes Alzheimer's. The lead suspect is a gooey protein called beta-amyloid. All brains contain it, although healthy cells somehow get rid of excess amounts. But beta-amyloid builds up in Alzheimer's patients, both inside their brain cells and forming clumps that coat the cells (in the) plaque that is the disease's hallmark. Thursday's study reveals one way that cells fend off amyloid buildup, and that natural aging gradually erodes that detoxification process.... So in slowing down normal aging, something also slowed the buildup of toxic amyloid. But what? Enter those cellular janitors, two proteins in that gene pathway. One, named HSF-1, breaks apart amyloid and disposes of it, the researchers discovered. Natural aging slows HSF-1, so it can't keep up with the necessary detoxification. Another protein called DAF-16 jumps in to help buy a little more time, by clumping extra amyloid together in a way that makes it less toxic....Until recently, scientists thought amyloid clumps, or plaques, were the bigger problem. His research supports more recent findings that smaller amyloid tendrils inside cells are the really poisonous form....By the time you see the plaques, it's too late.
Of course, right now, the only way to see the plaque is in the autopsy. Talk about "too late." :(

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