Dad At Thanksgiving

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Many years ago I found a picture of my dad taken when he was eight years old.  The wide eyes were already bright with the razor-sharp intelligence that would largely define the image of him I had growing up.  But I saw something else in those eyes as well, something not quite so familiar:  sweetness.  I was looking at the emotional, loving little boy everyone called Ronny. 

Ronny grew up in a five-room house on the blue-collar side of town, sharing a small bedroom with his older brother.  Unlike my girls, he and his brother weren’t friends.  They fought constantly.  Ronny, three years younger, lost those fights.  His father, a railroad worker, was a functioning alcoholic stuck in a bitter, loveless marriage held together primarily by the Catholic Church’s prohibition against divorce.  Ronny remembered seeing his parents kiss exactly once in his life.

As often happens with the children of bitter marriages, he absorbed much of the emotional fallout.  He stuttered when he spoke, so he spoke little.  Sweet little Ronny became Ron and grew a hard shell he opened only for a few people, and even then only partway.  As an adult, he could be charming and generous and witty … but also hot-tempered, critical, defensive and aloof.  He only said “I love you” to his sons when the shell was pried open by several glasses of scotch.

Ron was able to attend college because his mother had, for years, been stealing money from his dad’s wallet whenever the old man came home and passed out after a night at the tavern.  During the summers, Ron worked on a railroad section gang, hauling railroad ties on his shoulders.  He came home grimy and exhausted, but developed stronger muscles than he’d ever had before.

Despite his innate shyness and ever-present fear of stuttering, he succeeded as an office-equipment salesman after college — because he had to.  By age 24, he was married with two sons.  He saved every nickel, then bought his own business at age 36 and expanded it rapidly.  The expansion halted during the deep recession of 1981-1982, when he often lay awake at night, wondering if he’d have to close the doors.  He studied for a real estate license just in case.  Meanwhile, he refused to lay off any of his employees and paid himself a dollar per year for three years.  He’d been a child during the Great Depression and remembered the constant fear of unemployment.  He wouldn’t put anyone through that if he could help it.

Then in the mid-1980s his business came roaring back to life.  He retired as someone his father would’ve considered a wealthy man — just in time to be battered by heart disease, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s.  He had stents put in his arteries.  He underwent two rounds of cancer surgery and chemotherapy.  The oncologist told my mother, “He’s a lot tougher than you think.  Most men his age can’t finish one round of chemo.  He finished two.”  But he was weak afterwards and never recovered his strength.

We first suspected he was developing Alzheimer’s when he was around 72, but as I noted in a previous post, the warning signs were there years earlier.  Recently my best friend Bob’s wife told me that when she and Bob greeted my dad at my wedding, he wasn’t sure who they were.  And Bob wasn’t just my best friend growing up; he spent a lot of nights at our house when we both attended the same junior college.  We played in a band together, and my parents often came out to watch.  They referred to him as their third son.  And yet, at age 65, my dad couldn’t remember Bob’s name.

My grandmother developed Alzheimer’s in her 80s, so the genetic risk factor was there.  But what could cause my father to succumb so much younger?  I can’t prove it, but I blame Lipitor, which he took for 20-some years.  Twice in his 60s, he suffered day-long episodes of what I’ve since learned is called transient global amnesia.  He babbled nonsense and couldn’t remember much besides his own name.  Both times he seemed to recover the next day.  The doctors couldn’t explain what had happened, despite running a battery of tests.

So you can only imagine my reaction when I first heard of Dr. Duane Graveline, a former NASA astronaut and doctor who also suffered bouts of amnesia while taking Lipitor.  (You can listen to Jimmy Moore’s recent interview with him here.)  After tracing both his amnesia and his sudden muscle weakness to the Lipitor, Dr. Graveline made it his life’s mission to discover and expose the side-effects of statin drugs.  He’s since learned that roughly one of every 200 people who take Lipitor will suffer bouts of amnesia.  Others suffer a slow decline in memory and cognitive ability, and for many — but not all — the effects are permanent, even after quitting the drugs.

Hoping they wouldn’t be permanent in my dad’s case, I flooded my mom with emails and links to articles about statins.  She was eventually convinced, and my dad stopped taking Lipitor.  His cardiologist went ballistic and said it was just plain stupid for a man with heart disease to stop taking such a wonderful drug.  I reminded my mom the Lipitor didn’t prevent Dad’s arteries from clogging up in the first place and offered to fly to Illinois to go toe-to-toe with the cardiologist myself, since she seemed a bit intimidated.  (I also suggested I’d happily shove several hundred pages of research up his colon, if that’s what it took.)

During one of his more lucid moments, Dad announced he’d rather not take Lipitor anymore, saying he’d rather die of a sudden heart attack than fade slowly from Alzheimer’s, and that settled the issue.  But whether the Lipitor was to blame or not, it was too late.  Within a year, he was asking my mom who she was. 

When he began putting clothes on over his pajamas and wandering out of the house in the middle of the night, my mom hired a nurse who arrived late in the afternoon and stayed through most of the night.  Mom would wake up to hear the nurse telling my dad, “No, your friend Duke is not picking you up right now.  No, it’s not morning, it’s the middle of the night, so you should go back to bed.  Yes, this is your house.”

Eventually Dad could no longer dress himself, wash himself, or do much of anything else himself, and Mom accepted that it was time for him to live in a nursing home. Thanks to his success in business, they can afford a private facility with nice rooms and an attentive staff.  My mom, despite everything that’s happened, considers them fortunate.  That’s her nature.

When I drove home for Thanksgiving last week, I hadn’t seen my dad in a year.  I’d spoken to him on the phone, and while he tried to play along, I could tell he didn’t know who I was.  During one conversation, he set down the phone but continued talking to me.  I could hear my mom trying to explain to him that he needed to hold the phone to his ear.  He wasn’t grasping any of it.

As my sister and I went to pick him up at the nursing home, I was bracing myself for the worst.  But it wasn’t the traumatic experience I’d feared.  He was sitting in a chair in the lobby, hopelessly confused as a gentle giant of an orderly tried to explain that he needed to put his shoes on before going outside.  But when he saw me, he brightened and exclaimed, “Oh, hi!  How are you?” 

He didn’t call me by name.  I don’t believe he knew my name.  But he was clearly happy to see me and gave me a hug.  He shuffled outside to the van with my sister guiding him.  It took me a few minutes to get his safety harness in place because he thought I was dressing him and kept raising his arms.  As I was helping him out of the van and into my mom’s house, he squeezed my forearm and said, “It’s good to see you.  I love you, you know.”

Little else he said all day made sense, but I responded as best I could.  Twice, he asked how I like living here, meaning in Illinois.  I said it’s fine.  The second time, he replied, “Yes, it’s good, because you can go that way and be right there, or you can go over there, or you can go down to … uh … that other place.”  I think he meant St. Louis, where he and my mom used to drive for weekend getaways. 

Meanwhile, he smiled at my girls, he hugged them, and he chuckled at some of their antics.  When Alana cackled about something, he turned to me and said, “There’s nothing like the sound of a little girl laughing, is there?  They’re so precious.”  During dinner, he turned to my mother, waved his arm across the table to indicate all of us seated there and said, “I just love this.  I love seeing all of this.”

He needed help getting out of his chair, and after he shuffled back to the bathroom, I had to help him get dressed again — he couldn’t remember how to get his pants up or buckle his belt.  I discovered that he didn’t understand it was Thanksgiving Day, and he thinks he has an office at the nursing home, with a job selling walkers.  He expects to do quite well at it.

In the early evening, the girls gave him goodbye hugs and kisses.  As my sister and I walked Dad outside, Alana turned to my mom and said, “Grandpa’s brain is sick, but we still love him, don’t we?”  At the nursing home, I had to half-lift him out of the van because he didn’t remember how to step down.  I managed to get him on his feet and, for the first time in my life, I kissed him on the forehead.

“Goodbye, Dad.  I’ll see you soon.”

“Okay.  Good to see you.  I love you.”

“I love you too, Dad.”

I wanted to explain to him that I live in Tennessee now and we’re happy there.  I wanted to tell him I acted in an outstanding play recently, that I produced a film, that I’m writing every week, that I’ve started doing standup again and will be appearing at a club right there in his town in two weeks, that his friends have already bought tickets.  But I knew he wouldn’t grasp any of it, much less remember it.

He smiled at me before my sister took his arm and walked him inside … and that’s when I thought of the photograph I found so many years ago.  His hair has long since turned white, his hands are spotted, and his face is wrinkled and weathered, but it was all right there, in the eyes.

My father, the complicated man who raised me, is mostly gone.  But for a couple of days, I got to spend some time with Ronny.  And since it was Thanksgiving weekend, I gave thanks for the chance to know him.


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34 thoughts on “Dad At Thanksgiving

  1. Jason

    Thanks for writing this and sharing it.
    My grandmother developed Alzheimer’s, and after she moved into the nursing home, she thanked her son for buying her such a big house with such nice people in it. She was lovely to the end.

    Amazing how the mind creates those happy thoughts, isn’t it? I was pleased to know my Dad thinks he’s working.

    Reply
  2. Ellen

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m reading this in bed on my phone with tears streaming down my face. I’m remembering the last great times with my Grandpa when he was on that road…I’ve never commented before, but it just felt like the right time. I wish you and your entire family all the best in the world.

    I appreciate the good wishes.

    Reply
  3. Tim

    Hi Tom,

    This was really moving to read, thank you. My dad passed last Spring and prior to that only had a few “lucid moments” as he had dementia. But those moments, when he *kind of* got what was going on, or vaguely who it was that was visiting – including his grandkids, were precious.

    Those are precious moments. It was a relief to realize he still experiences the love and joy of seeing his family, even if he can’t remember the name or the exact relationship. I guess that’s why his best friend (a prince of a man) still picks him up and takes him out for coffee. He probably sees it makes Dad happy.

    Reply
  4. Cathryn

    I quit taking my cholesterol medication as well. I had started hearing how once on it, you can’t get off without losing your life. I didn’t want to be on that kind of medication. I was having trouble with my memory and some cognition issues–and I’m better since I quit.

    I’m touched by your story. Please accept my sympathy–It is not easy to see our loved ones–complicated as they are–lose themselves. I’m glad you got to know the young boy your father was and still is inside. Many of us never get to know that side of our parents.

    That’s the silver lining. Everyone in the family noticed he’s become this sweet, friendly guy, and he seems happy.

    Reply
  5. Jim

    Wow, Tom; that was wonderful. I can relate to some of it… my Dad took a statin (I guess Lipitor, don’t remember) forever. Kept eating his bread and potatoes and sweet desserts, never had any heart problems, but slowly developed diabetes, the complications of which eventually killed him. I never could get through to him about diet. He had been a medic in the army and my Mom had been a RN, so they believed anything a doctor told them. Like your Dad, he had a tough childhood that scarred him emotionally, but he was always an optimist and quite an entertainer to my two brothers and me.

    Glad you’re doing stand-up again… hope it goes great! My favorite program on Comedy Channel back in the ’90s was “Stand-up Stand-up”.

    I think people in our parents’ generation were inclined to believe the white-coat crowd is infallible. I had a couple of doctors write emails about statins side-effects and send them to me so I could pass them on to Mom — now she’s hearing about them from doctors, not just me.

    Reply
  6. tina

    I am so sorry Tom. I have a coworker who thinks her mother may be getting the first symptoms of Alzheimers. She asked her the other day what year is was. I asked about statins and yep she started taking Lipitor a few weeks ago. I will show her your post and maybe she can do something before it gets worse.

    Please, please, please, get her to read Dr. Graveline’s book or visit the spacedoc.net website and read some articles. If Lipitor is causing or aggravating the symptoms, the sooner she gets off of them the better.

    Statins are worse than worthless for women anyway.

    Reply
  7. Josh

    Tom,
    Thanks for one of the best reads I’ve had in a long time. What a wonderfully moving story. Thank you for sharing.

    Josh

    Thanks, Josh.

    Reply
  8. nonegiven

    My Grandma thought she was away at school when she was in the nursing home. Whenever my mother went to see her, she thought Mother was her older sister and called her by that name. She carried stuffed animals around and when she was eating in the cafeteria she thought she was at a restaurant.

    It’s a relief to see how the mind finds these happy places to go as it’s failing. Because being weak and confused and living in a nursing home sounds miserable to me, I expected to see Dad feeling miserable. But in his mind, he’s working and meeting with people and doing well. Thank God for that.

    Reply
  9. Debbie

    Aw, this one brought tears to my eyes. I lost my mom to Alzheimer’s complications in 2004. Sadly, in her case, her deterioration seemed to bring out her nasty side more than her sweet side – calling me nasty names, telling my sister get out of her life and stay out, doing things like telling my 7-year-old-son that he had destroyed her life and her marriage and she wished he’d never been born. Even telling a child that grandma’s brain is sick does not take away the sting of words like that.

    Thanksgiving week I drove to North Carolina to see my own dad for Thanksgiving. My son (now 31) and his wife and my new 12-week-old grandson came along too. My grandson is a cutie (how could he not be, LOL) and is named after my dad, so dad was so thrilled to see and hold him, but kept mourning that my mom was no longer with us to see him as well.

    But as my mom progressed deeper and deeper into the disease her nastiness eased, and she did become more sweet and malleable. But by then she had no idea who any of us were (except my dad, who took care of her 24×7 until the end – and in the last few years she had no idea who he was either. She was just an empty husk by then)

    Alzheimer’s is such a cruel disease, robbing of of everything that makes us ourselves, and I wonder what is going on back there behind the eyeballs. In my mom’s early stages she realized that she was losing herself, and would break down sobbing, asking why was this happening to her?

    Yet even after she stopped being able to speak you would sometimes see an odd spark in her eye and wonder what it meant. I got a new puppy at one point. Mom had not spoken for a year or more at that point, but when I went to NC to visit I put the puppy in her lap, as Mom had always been an avid dog lover.

    She stuttered badly, but the words came out, “oh he’s cute, he’s just so cute”. That was 9 years before she passed away, but those were the last words I ever heard her speak. She never spoke again. And yet something had sparked in her brain when that puppy was put in her lap. I do wish I could have put my grandson in her lap also.

    Your story was so moving Tom. My heartfelt best wishes to you and your dad and your entire family (and BTW, I look forward to meeting you on the Low Carb Cruise in March!)

    Dad also went through an angry phase when his mind first started going. Fortunately it didn’t last long.

    Reply
  10. Ursa Major

    This post reminds me why I love the rise of the blogosphere. Good on you, Tom, for focusing on what matters. I hope and believe that by the time your daughters reach an age to worry about their genetic legacy, Alzheimers will be a non-issue.

    I hope so, for everyone’s sake. And even if there’s no cure soon, I know to avoid statins and keep my insulin down. When my dad quit smoking, he began eating too much sugary/starchy junk.

    If I develop dementia when I’m 100, so be it, but when I’m 72, my daughters will be in their 20s. I think about that when I’m tempted to eat junk.

    Reply
  11. Dave

    Seems natural they’d be angry at first, when there’s enough left to know they’re missing things, but unable to figure out what or why.

    I know I’d be frustrated.

    Reply
  12. Spork

    Let me echo the others in saying “thanks for that.” I’m going through a similar scenario with Mom. She hasn’t taken statins, though has done 30+ years of low fat, transfat frankenfood. I’d love to see some scientific studies done on the effects of low fat on brain aging.

    If not low-fat per se, I think it’s obvious high insulin levels are a factor in dementia. Insulin competes with the enzyme that removes plaque from the brain.

    Reply
  13. Steve Parker, M.D.

    I’m sorry to hear of your father’s diagnosis. It’s harder on the relatives than on the patient. Thankfully, your father seems happy.

    I was not aware of the high rate of cognitive impairment with statins. Most physicians will have your father’s cardiologist reaction.

    I see internal medicine patients in the hospital only. About half of the over-65 inpatients seem to be on a statin. And the trend is for increasing usage. The maker of Crestor is in the midst of a comprehensive plan to have doctors prescribe even more. Google “JUPITER study” for details.

    -Steve

    The pharmaceutical companies aren’t exactly trumpeting the cognitive effects, of course. As a doctor, you’d be interested in Dr. Graveline’s research.

    Reply
  14. April

    Tom, you are a very gifted writer. It’s not often one can make people laugh and cry 🙂

    You know, my grandpa was on statins for years, and now he is showing signs of dementia. He was an alcoholic as well, but now I wonder if that had something to do with it too!

    You mentioned doing standup again, do you plan on coming to the Detroit area at all? Hopefully you will post your tour dates!

    I’m just getting started again. I’d like to get out a lot more, but with two kids, I’m not up for long tours anymore. I used to be on the road six weeks at a time. I will post my tour dates when they come along.

    Reply
  15. Susan

    My dad has felt a little distant over the past few years, struggling to remember things or to use the right word.

    I’ve been sending him information on statins.

    A few months ago, he seemed much more clear. I didn’t ask, but he mentioned that he’d only been taking the statin every other day. I told him that I definitely noticed the difference.

    Maybe this Christmas I can get him to stop taking them entirely… and to buy some sugar free things at minimum. He’s the most hopelessly carb addicted person I know.

    And may I say, as a fellow writer, that I think you write beautifully.

    I appreciate that and wish you the best with your dad. Some docs are calling Alzheimer’s type III diabetes now, so the fewer simple carbs, the better.

    Reply
  16. Paula

    God bless you and your family. What a moving tribute to your dad. I’m sorry your family is going through this, but by writing it out, you could help someone else. In fact, tonight, I’m going to mention to my parents, who both take statins, that statins have an increase in dementia. That’s their biggest fear.

    Send them to http://www.spacedoc.net to read Dr. Graveline’s articles.

    Reply
  17. Dr.A

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for sharing that. I have watched several people sink into Alzheimer’s and it is heart breaking when someone who knew you for years suddenly doesn’t know you any more. I have been trying to stop my mom from taking statins for years, but she trusts her doctors more. She has become increasingly aggressive and abusive since taking them and recently spent several hours screaming at me that she wished I’d never been born. Her reaction to the drug seems to be senile delinquency instead of senile dementia. Equally painful, though.
    My husband has just found out that his dad has cancer and is going to try to convince him to cut the carbs for that, but, of course, the doctors will win out there also.

    It just fries me when I hear about women taking statins. There isn’t a single study that shows a benefit for women. I’ve managed to talk my mom, mother-in-law, sister and a good friend into getting rid of them. My mom was suffering muscle pains, but of course her doctor didn’t connect them to the statins.

    Can you at least get your father-in-law to take vitamin D? Perhaps you can get him to watch this video:


    Reply
  18. Valerie

    My grandmother has Alzheimer. She doesn’t know who I am anymore. She does, however, remember taking care of my sister, my brother and myself about 25 years ago. She remembers the 4-year-old me, but doesn’t recognize the today me.

    Five years ago, her children noticed that she seemed confused sometimes. They insisted that she get tested for dementia (she was living alone). She needed someone to accompany her to those tests. I went with her and even in the 20 minutes or so while we waited in the waiting room, she repeated the same stories over and over.

    I didn’t see her right away when she got out of the doctor’s office, and we spent a few minutes looking for each other in the building. We eventually found each other, talked a bit, and went back home each in our car as she didn’t need help. When I got home, there was a message on my answering machine from my grandmother saying that she didn’t see me when she got out of the doctor’s office, but that she was now home and hoped I didn’t waste too much time looking for her. She didn’t remember that we did find each other before we left.

    That day, the doctor said she was fine and didn’t show any sign of dementia. I can’t help but think that if the doctor had done a better job on those tests, something might have been done the prevent further loss of memory, and she might know who I am today.

    Perhaps. But even when Dad was diagnosed — and he was still mostly lucid at the time — nothing prevented the further decline.

    Reply
  19. Dan

    I’m sorry to hear about your dad. I’m dealing with aging parents with health problems and my mom isn’t expected to live much longer. At least she is still alert and I am enjoying what time she has left. I hope you can enjoy more quality visits.

    My mother in law took lipitor and had muscle pains. She got off them, but now she has a limp. I can’t say for sure it was permanent damage from lipitor, but you can’t rule it out either. When my doctor prescibed lipitor a few years ago, I came across Dr. Graveline’s site and decided not to get the prescription filled. I depend on my brain to make a living. Now I’m ignoring a simvastatin presciption and will have a showdown with my doctor next month. No way am I taking that crap.

    It’s tragic that half of seniors that Dr. Parker sees are on statins. Statins provide no benefit for the elderly and only cause adverse effects. It’s shameful that the relentless pursuit of profit is ruining people’s lives.

    Dr. Graveline also had difficulty walking after the Lipitor. I believe some decades from now, statins will be viewed as the mistake they are, ranking up there with bleeding with the patient.

    Reply
  20. Dave, RN

    Don’t know the “bleeding”. There are health benefits to giving blood, especially for men, by keeping iron levels in check.
    Don’t overlook the fluoride – aluminum link to Alzheimers. It’s why I have a whole house water filter to get rid of the fluoride.
    Here is but one link: http://www.garynull.com/Documents/Dental/Fluoride/fluoride_index.htm
    Fluoride is poison, pure and simple.

    I was referring to the practice of bleeding the patient to let out the bad humours. It’s what hastened Washington’s death; doctors bled out about a third of his blood.

    Reply
  21. Dave, RN

    A word of explanation. I know that the above website is by Gary Null, who is a vegetarian. He and I disagree on that of course. He’s right on about the fluoride though.
    Oh, and I should have said “Don’t knock the bleeding”.
    Lets all just eat right, drink right a be the generation where Alzheimers decreases.

    I agree that we don’t need flouride in our water to avoid tooth decay; we just need to avoid coating our teeth with sugar and simple starches. Anthropology should’ve taught us that lesson.

    Reply
  22. Deborah M

    Thank you for that story, Tom. I am glad you are still getting quality time with your father – and that he himself is happy.

    My father in law is on a low dose of lipitor. Luckily I recently showed him Fathead, and he is now eating low-carb! He had already been on moderate-carb, convinced of the low-carb way in general, but having watched Fathead he is a full convert.

    I wanted to ask you, if you know, is there one article on Dr Graveline’s site that would be a good introduction for me to send him to? I find it far more likely that people will ‘listen’ if you give them a link to one summarizing article than a whole website of stuff.

    Incidentally, a friend of mine – a woman in her mid-thirties, with young children, planning to have more – has high cholesterol, and the top cardiologist at a reputable hospital told her to go on statins. I spent one of our 40 minute commutes telling her all about the evils of statins, how high cholesterol is NO problem for women, etc etc… she didn’t want to go on the statin, so I’ve given her enough ammo to not go on them. Can you imagine? Putting a healthy woman in her thirties on statins because of high cholesterol?

    It’s an outrage that any woman is put on statins. Congrats on talking her out of them.

    This is a good place to start with Dr. Graveline; it’s a list of articles on various side effects. Whichever scares your father-in-law the most, send him that one.

    http://www.spacedoc.net/statin_side_effects

    Reply
  23. Saku

    Thanks for posting this, it really spoke to me. It’s funny but I had a pretty poor relationship w/my father until he got Alzheimer’s. And I think it’s for the reason you mention – he had a hard shell, and the disease has allowed me to meet the emotional boy he once was.

    It seems almost contradictory to be grateful towards such a horrible illness, but I suppose there really is a silver lining to every cloud.

    Yup. I think in his childhood he learned that being emotional and vulnerable was dangerous. Now he’s forgotten all that.

    Reply
  24. JaneM

    What a sweet story, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    I took Lipitor for 5 years and finally had the sense to get off of it. I had problems with my memory. You see, I am a singer, and could no longer memorize music. I also had severe, sudden bouts of anger that cost me a job. After I stopped the Lipitor my memory mostly came back and the anger issues just melted away. My husband took Vytorin for 6 months and became impotent. I convinced him to get off it, and although he’s not quite as good as he was, he is able to function that way. I just had a really unsatisfactory visit with my doctor who berated me for my high LDL and can’t understand why I won’t take a statin drug. She’s trying to convince me to try statins other than Lipitor, but won’t accept that the side effects are due to the drug. She makes me feel like I’m going to die any momentt. The disappointing thing was my A1C went down to 6.0 from 6.3 and there was nary a congratulation or word of encouragement.

    How do I find a more sympathetic doctor? Does anybody know any good doctors in Central Massachusetts?

    I don’t, but Jimmy Moore keeps a list:

    http://lowcarbdoctors.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  25. W Preston Crook Juror #11

    Tom, What a great story. My Dad passed away in 1998 just after Christmas. That just brought back so many good memories. I wish you, Chareva, and the girls ( I think I remember you having two) a Merry Christmas. Break a leg in Springfield.

    Thanks, Preston. I plan to get back to town in time for the Christmas party at the theater. See you then.

    Reply
  26. Johnny O

    Great article Tom. I lost my Dad three years ago and was honored to see him take his last breath and know he lived a full life and was successful at it.

    That’s the point I’m at now: remembering and honoring his life. It makes a difference.

    Reply
  27. bo

    Hi Tom,

    Sorry about your dad. I don’t know if this would be helpful to your father, but maybe it would be for others. Are you aware a ketogenic diet has been shown to be helpful to Alzheimer patients? The brain can use two things for fuel, glucose or ketones. Apparently with Alzheimer’s patients, the glucose receptors don’t work well so these individuals are not getting enough brain fuel. If they have ketones to draw on, they can get back some (a lot?) of brain function fairly quickly–in hours even. I should also note that coconut oil is a source of ketones (though if there is too much glucose in the body, you can’t guarantee that the brain will use the coconut ketones). A medical doctor found that coconut oil really helped her husband and she’s done a long interview on her research.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iScs0uzQZFk

    Other people around the web report serious success with a low carb diet.

    I think if we’d changed his diet earlier, it may indeed have helped. Mom tried coconut oil and dietary changes a year or so ago at my suggestion, but didn’t notice any difference. Too far gone, I guess.

    Reply
  28. Dan

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now, ever since my copy of “Fat Head” arrived shortly after the new year. It’s ironic that I had been discussing statins with my 77 year old father recently when I happened upon this post. Although he still adheres to the low fat diet mentality that’s been forced upon us all, he decided on his own several months ago to stop taking his prescribed statins. Apparently, he’d heard somewhere that they’d been “over prescribed” and just didn’t like how they made him feel. If I could only convince him to abandon the sugar and all the other carbs he consumes thinking he’s doing the right thing.

    “Good Calories, Bad Calories” is probably a bit much to ask him to read, but “The Vegetarian Myth” covers some of the same territory, as does “Primal Body, Primal Mind.” I hope you convince him to cut back on the carbs, but giving up statins is a big step in the right direction.

    Reply

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