Monday, April 22, 2013

Not a Ghost of A Chance -- An Alzheimer's Disease Out of the Box Moment

This lead me to think the same thing every time -- the Alzheimer's box is bigger then I ever thought or imagined.

By +Bob DeMarco 
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

While Dotty and I were watching -- TREME on HBO (the show is set in post Katrina New Orleans), One of the main characters Antoine (Wendell Pierce) was walking down Bourbon street when he came up on characters Sonny (keyboard) and Annie (violin).

They were playing a song that I had never heard.

Antoine starts singing the song. As he does this on TV, Dotty starts singing along with him. I was so stunned I kinda short circuited. I asked Dotty, do you know that song? She said yes. I asked, do you know the name and she said no.

Last night I decided to see if I could find the segment on YouTube. I did.

I brought Dotty over to the computer and said listen to this. As Antoine started singing I said to Dotty -- sing it. She started singing -- "but I don't stand a ghost of a chance with you."

Second time around she sang in perfect tune and continued even after I clicked the stop button on YouTube -- "I love you oh so madly and I don't stand a ghost of a chance with you."

I asked her again do you know that song? She said, was that Frank Sinatra? I did some research. A Ghost of a Chance was written in 1932. It was first sung and made famous by Billie Holiday. Later it was modernized and re-recorded by Frank Sinatra.

I am not sure if my sister Joanne knows this. Dotty sings in a much higher (not louder) voice then her conversation voice. She has a really sweet voice.

In this case and others, she sings right in tune with the music. There is no doubt in my mind that Dotty was singing the Billy Holiday version.

I continue to believe that many of the patients suffering from Alzheimer's are capable of more then most people can or ever could imagine. For me this is fascinating.

This belief helped me when I wanted to push the "envelop" with Dotty. I was convinced early on that there was "more" with my mother. It was the exercise, the pattern I saw in the exercise, that set me on to the right path.

Over the years, I saw or read about someone with Alzheimer's disease that was doing "more" in one way or another. I just kept thinking in reference to Dotty -- there is more in there.

When Laurry Harmon introduced me to what Judy Berry was doing at Lakeview Ranch -- turning around the toughest of Alzheimer's patients -- it really sent me into another gear.

I'm lucky. I never saw my mother as a victim.

I never saw myself as a victim. Instead, I gradually became fascinated by Alzheimer's disease.

I became curious about what could be accomplished.

 I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking it is a bed of roses here in Delray Beach. It is not.

 On the other hand, every once in a while Dotty does something that is out of the Alzheimer's Box.

This lead me to think the same thing every time -- the Alzheimer's box is bigger then I ever thought or imagined.

Start singing and Get out of the box.

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room
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