I am doomed. If I thought I was going to do figure eights around Alzheimer’s Disease, taking first the inner edge then the outer of a perfect pair of white figure skates, laughing knowingly at my age peers stringing little beads together around a table where adolescent recreational therapists tried to keep them happy and oriented to date and time, I was completely, totally, absolutely fucking wrong. Because today, my friends, the ubiquitous hearing aid ad in the paper proclaimed: People with untreated hearing loss have 2 to 3 X the risk of having Alzheimer’s Disease.
I saw the ad, dropped the newspaper on the bed, covered my ears, and yelped. How is it possible that my hearing loss which is, itself, driving me utterly crazy and draping me with hearing aids and electronic streamers and unanswered phone calls and personal space violations galore, how is it that, in addition to becoming an official member of the halt and the lame, that I now have to lose my mind to Alzheimer’s. I call it piling on. That’s what it is. True, my hearing loss is hardly untreated. I’ve spent thousands to mitigate my hearing loss. But there are times when the comfort of my own head unadorned with mechanical assists, noiseless except for the constant sound of gently running water which is my tinnitus, is so peaceful that I would gladly forget time and place to float away somewhere. And string beads, maybe. Pretty beads.
I look at the ad again and add my hearing loss to the growing list of things that increase my chances of having Alzheimer’s Disease, my mother top of the list. Next up is having used deodorant with aluminum, having periods of depression, probably drinking too much, doing crossword puzzles that are too easy, not eating enough broccoli, watching too much Kukla, Fran and Ollie, using Ipana toothpaste, and huffing Emeraude (not on purpose, just as a consequence of attending a 9th grade dance in 1962). I figure now my chances of having Alzheimer’s at 500% – that I will have it in this life and the next four.
I wonder how it will manifest. I wonder how it will go. What will be the last thought out my mind’s eye? Will it be the beautiful day my mother noticed when she said to a man on our walk around the neighborhood that “You are such a nice outside today.” Or will I find happiness putting Christmas bows on little daintily arranged stacks of canned goods in the pantry like my mother did? Or will I put a single pea in a spoon and threaten to fling it at my husband like my mother did, giving a coy look like she did at the dinner table decades before when she’d fire one off at one of us kids. She didn’t hear me when I told her to put the spoon down.
Now I get it.