My Best Friend Has Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease

I recently back from stopping in to check on my best friend since high school, Jaime. She lives in Massachusetts.  When I say checking in, that's exactly what I mean.  It's not really visiting anymore, it's to see how far the disease has progressed and to see if there's any thing I can do to make her life a little bit nicer.

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She Was Diagnosed Officially 3 Years Ago

Jaime came to visit me for 10 days in the pandemic in 2020. At that time there was a problem with her being able to remember things here and there, but she thought she just needed a break from THC and everything would be fine.

I didn't really think it was a THC thing, it seemed different.  I wasn't the only one who thought so. Her immediate family also urged her to go to the doctor.

After Many Doctor Visits And Many Tests, She Was Diagnosed

Early Onset Alzheimer's is different than regular Alzheimer's. Generally afflicting people with a family history of Alzheimer's in their 50's or 60's, (Jaime's dad has Alzheimer's) it can sometimes get a person as young as in their 30's.  Jaime was in her early 50's.

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There Are Some Treatments, But There's No Stopping It

She is getting treatment at one of the premier hospitals in the country, Massachusetts General Hospital. Thing about Early Onset Alzheimer's and Alzheimer's is that there is no stopping it.  They can only hope to slow it down.

Jaime is participating in experimental medicine and treatments in the hopes of maybe stopping the disease where it is in her body along with helping other people afflicted with the disease. One of the things she does is regularly getting spinal fluid removed so science can study her.  Anyone who's had a spinal shot knows that's a pretty hard-core situation.

Life expectancy is short.  They say she could live 20 years after diagnosis, but most sources tell you it's about 8 years.

She Was One Of The Smartest People I've Ever Known, Hands-Down

This disease is cruel and unrelenting.  In the short time since her diagnosis, Jaime can no longer do math (she was very good at math), she can no longer do ANYTHING alone, and she can't hold down a job (She was an editor), and sometimes she literally can't even see things that are right in front of her.

Early Onset Alzheimer's has taken away her entire life.  I can't even tell you what it's like to watch. Jaime can't really tell me what it's like to have the disease. She tries, but the words don't come to her anymore.

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Why Am I Telling You This Story?

Watch your friends, watch your family. If there is any kind of history of Alzheimer's, the littlest clues, like forgetting words while talking, can be a big clue in telling you to get to the doctor.

Nothing can stop the disease, and by the time it's diagnosed, it's already taken a toll. But, there are experimental drugs on the horizon. Thanks to Jaime and people like her, if you catch it early enough, you may be able to stop it where it's at.

The first step is admitting it's more than smoking a little too much weed and getting to the doctor.  That's why I'm telling you.

Watching this progress is one of the worst things I've ever seen, and in my 56 years, I've seen some stuff. It's worse than knowing we won't be growing old together sitting on the porch drinking tea and talking like 2 little old ladies do. So. Much. Worse.

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Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls, Montana

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