Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat

Oliver Sachs wrote this wonderful book about various neurological problems dealing with perception and memory. He didn't intentionally write about Alzheimers but ...

Today Bob's brother called; it's been perhaps a month since Bob's talked to anyone on the phone and those of us close have seen major decline in the past weeks.

I wasn't quite ready for the difficulty of the phone call. First Bob had trouble getting the phone to his ear; then he came over to me but was unable to ask a question -- brother wanted to see if there were other phones off the hook or something as he had a terrible connection. Problem solved finally: Bob's physical response to the phone was to use it as a razor. and since he doesn't shave on the weekend, he's got a healthy beard. Voila! static!

But the troubles continued. Bob was totally unable to have a conversation; he held the phone on his lap, shaved with it, tried to set it down; he talked in a quiet, whisper voice as well. When I attempted to intervene to help, he accused me of trying to keep him from talking to his brother.

Then Paul asked a question about music and suddenly full voice, Bob broke into song, "Hello, my friend, hello, my friend."

The brain and how it can disconnect.

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