The opening of this new group for Memory Health: Alzheimer's Support Group is a prayer answered, a wish fulfilled and a hope restored. In 2012, my neurologist admitted that she had no idea why my memory issues were so deep and felt that I was too young for Alzheimer's. While reading an article in Psychology Today on Jan 18, 2012 written by a Professor from Harvard Medical School, I wrote to the author about his topic on memory deficits and shared a part of my medical record that no one had ever taken the time to explain to me. He suggested that my symptoms were reflective of MCI known as Mild Cognitive Impairment, a memory disorder not related to age or intellect but in the non-progressive group meaning that I have not in 20 years developed any degree of dementia or Alzheimer's.
Since 1980 (I was 25 years old) I have struggled with cognitive difficulties. A Spect scan revealed "mild global cerebral profusion deficits" in 1994. Since then, I have struggled with sporadic episodes of confusion and disorientation, attention, concentration and lived in undiagnosed low grade depression until 44 years of age.
In my medical file, there is a letter from the specialist who sent me for the scan to my primary physician which contains this paragraph, " She certainly seems to be a person who can take the slings and arrows of fate and work with them. She has a committed spiritual life which appears to be of great value to her in sustaining her through these difficult times. I guess what I am saying is that I do not feel that the diagnosis is simple. This is a complex matter. I cannot give you any idea what is going to happen to this woman in the future."
The Professor from Harvard responded to my email with this response: "Yours is a fascinating story. What is especially impressive to me is your description of sitting down and taking stock of your situation and then making a concentrated effort to follow lifestyle habits, including cognitive training, inquiring of neuroplasticity, recognizing the role of severe stress on cognition you know to be associated with healthy living. Clearly, you have been a major force in remaining as mentally fit as possible. Your description of your remarkable efforts to remain mentally vigorous, that famous quote of Albert Schweitzer came to mind: Within every patient there resides a doctor, and we as physicians are at our best when we put our patients in touch with the doctor inside themselves."
He then asked my permission to share some of my thinking about my cognitive issues in a file that he was compiling for teaching purposes. I gave my permission and my case has been taught approximately four times to students at Harvard Medical School during a summer session and once in Australia.
My struggles continue, daily, but it helps for me to have some understanding of what the problem may be and to know that some of what I am doing is helpful.