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Losing My Mind : An Intimate Look at Life…

Losing My Mind : An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's

by Thomas DeBaggio

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I was a young boy when my great-grandmother moved in with my grandparents, and was told she had Alzheimer's. I remember being amused with her confusing the Saturday Night Live Weekend Updates with the news, and later still tickled when she would ask your name, inevitably remark 'that is an easy name to remember', and then five minute later have her ask your name again. It was less amusing when the same disease manifested in her son, my grandfather.

It took him too. Like many spouses, my grandmother acted as an absolute saint, keeping him home as long as she could. It is quite possible, possibly probable, that the same hidden bomb lurks in my mother, her siblings, and me. None so far have had early onset, and for that we can all be grateful.

I loved this memoir. I liked how it moved in and out of the present and past, recursively. I truly felt like Tom was sharing his stream of consciousness with us.

I knew how it ended before I picked up the book, and loved it the same. ( )
  kcshankd | Feb 21, 2016 |
I was just getting in to audio books the first time I 'read' this. Listening to an audio book compared to reading print seems to me the difference between having a pizza base, a selection of toppings, plus cheese, sauce and herbs, and you put it together how you want and then bake it and eat it. All the components were given to you and there is a certain set order to placing them, but still two people wouldn't turn out with quite the same pizza. An audio book is like being handed a ready-made slice on a plate.

However, I did like this book better than the first one I listened to, Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain. In part because Tom DeBaggio is a far superior writer to Proulx, who is one-dimensional by comparison.

I don't think I would have got through this book in print. Because of the author's Alzheimer's of which this is a true chronicle, it was too repetitious, jumped around from his past to his present and worries for his future, included medical reports and all sorts of odd snippets, all of which worked in audio, but I personally would have found tedious to read.

[a:Thomas DeBaggio|182519|Thomas DeBaggio|http://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/nophoto-M-50x66-e07624dc012f2cce49c7d9aa6500c6c0.jpg]'s story is an interesting one, there is possibly a great film in there. Tom was the son of hard-working Italian immigrants. He was a devotee of Holden Caulfield's hobby of spotting fake people which tied in nicely with his job - a muck-raking journalist. Later he married an artist and the pair of the became real children of the 60s anti-Vietnam movement married to an artist before finally settling on being a commercial herb nurseryman and publishing several acclaimed books on herb farming. Not that kind of herb. It's not the 60s any more! His story of early-onset Alzheimer's, he was diagnosed at 57, is frantic with anger and worries for what comes next in the progress of this dreadful disease. Despite the repetitions it is told well. At the end, the last few words, my eyes burned with tears. (But then came some mawkish music which spoiled the mood).

I read up on the author. He's written another book, [b:When It Gets Dark: An Enlightened Reflection on Life with Alzheimer's|6985321|When It Gets Dark An Enlightened Reflection on Life with Alzheimer's|Thomas DeBaggio|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1255623465s/6985321.jpg|2517814], I can't bear to read it. He died in 2011 after having spent the last few years in an institution where he deteriorated to not being able to speak, move his hands or even recognise his wife. Nothing but a shell left and if there were any human desires that still vibrated within the ever-frailer human shell, they remained locked inside - who was to know? A cruel and tortuous death. So sad. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
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Memory is hunger. - - Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast
I am going to tell the story of my life in an alphabet of ashes. - - Blas de Otero in Twenty Poems
To my wife, Joyce, may she always remember our good days. And to my son, Francesco, who made every day worth remembering. And in memory of Connie and Carl who made me, and left too soon. Thanks for the time of my life.
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That January, my fifty-seventh birthday, was pleasant and eventful and I began to adjust to middle age.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743205669, Paperback)

This first-person account of Alzheimer's ties several powerful stories together. Losing My Mind blends personal history with the fear and pain of developing the disease at the age of 57; it is both a sadly fascinating account of Alzheimer's progression and an attempt for the writer to remember his past before it is gone for good.

While his history is recounted in chronological order, these memories--of his childhood; marriage to his wife, Joyce; their years in writing and politics; his passion for herbs and the growing of a successful business--are interspersed with unrelated musings on everything from his cat's sudden deafness to losing his wallet. Clips from articles on Alzheimer's research are sprinkled around, and statistics like the $174,000 that a patient spends on the disease over a lifetime are sobering. Throughout the book, he clearly speaks of his diagnosis as a "sentence"; the lack of a cure is dwelt on in many sections, and a story about an accidental overdose of his prescriptions is particularly grim.

This is not a book that supplies any "power of positive thinking" messages, but instead shows the daily struggle of a man coming to terms with a terrible disease. Poignant and thoughtful, DeBaggio's life will hold meaning for anyone who has been touched by Alzheimer's. --Jill Lightner

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:08 -0400)

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The author's account of his daily struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, diagnosed at age 57.

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