Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a very powerful book. Reading about alzheimer’s isn’t easy, and at times it’s enough to scare you half to death. That little voice in your head is saying … “please, please don’t let this happen to me”. When Alice visits her neurologist and they do all those memory tests on her and you’re thinking geeze – I couldn’t remember that either… it scares the heck out of you. No I’m not neurotic – just gettin’ older. Anyway, this is a story about one woman’s journey through early onset alzheimers. But Dr. Alice Howland is no ordinary woman – she’s a 50 year old Prof from Harvard University, a linguistics Prof of all things. Language is her specialty and she’s slowly losing the capability of distinguishing what people say to her, and finding the right words in her mind to respond. How sad is that! As the seasons change so does her understanding of the world she lives in, and her ability to manage on a day to day level. It’s gut-wrenching. One of the best parts of the book is when Alice stands up in front of a room full of medical people at a conference on alzheimers when she is well on the road to forgetting her past. Easy right… she’s used to lecturing at Harvard. Think again – she has alzheimers and can hardly follow the words on the paper she’s reading from. She tells the audience what it’s like from a patient’s perspective… “My yesterdays are disappearing and my tomorrows are uncertain”.  That’s it in one simple sentence. Her friends and co-workers become strangers, and her BlackBerry becomes her best friend. And her children step up to the plate and have the patience and fortitude necessary to look after an adult who needs the attention of a child. This book has received lots of attention and is well up there on the best-seller lists. It’s different from any of this nature I’ve ever read, thanks in part to the fact that Lisa Genova holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Harvard and is a columnist for the National Alzheimer’s Association. She knows the subject and she writes about it really well.

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