Have you ever wondered what it really must be like to loose your mind?  To open your eyes and look around, and it all be unfamiliar and new?  I was thinking about that today when we went to see one of our patients with Alzheimer’s. There she sat with her pearls around her neck, and a long gold chain medallion and locket adorning her hospital gown. She was looking at her 2 watches both on her left arm next to her ID bracelet. When we entered she said cheerfully, “I hope you can help me… it seems I don’t remember where I’m at or how I got here, but I sure hope I can get home soon.” I was surprised she was so up beat, even though she knew her mind was in trouble.  “I’m having a problem with my memory, I just can’t understand things” she said, smiling, her glasses half way down her nose like a librarian. She had learned to be clever, adapting to her loss.  When asked “Do you know where you are?” She’d quip, “sure I do, I’m where you are” Is that the grace that accompanies the loss of awareness?  That you also don’t know enough to be scared?  I’d think it terrifying, if tomorrow I woke up and didn’t know where I was… nothing familiar- the walls, the bed, the people…my mind would whirl trying to recount the last possible memory I DID have.  If it searched and found nothing…what then? Panic? Despair? Yet how happy and childlike Ms. H was.  Unconcerned, if not a bit entertained by all of us.  Although in 5 minutes time, Ms. H will have forgotten me, I don’t want to forget her, and her pleasant dementia.  Since I didn’t have any camera, I decided to sketch her and those crazy pearls… not as art, but as a reminder.

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