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Forgetting Today But Waking To 45 Years Ago
Nobody said Alzheimer’s makes sense
Text and photo by Tom Hintz
Posted - 4-1-2015
It is becoming apparent to me that the differences in our personalities means that individual experiences with Alzheimer’s will differ as well. What stands out to me is how the brain, even in the midst of some level of dysfunction can thrust images and emotions from 45 years ago into tonight’s nightmares with a frightening level of realism. There are studies that say Vietnam veterans with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) are perhaps twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as other folks. 45 years of waking in the midst of a few Vietnam experiences makes me think that I may have some level of PTSD. One of the hallmarks of PTSD is the recalling of war time experiences and I have been doing that consistently since about 1970.
If it turns out that there really is a link between PTSD and Alzheimer’s not being able to find a cell phone I set down minutes ago yet recalling a fire fight from 45 years ago with moment by moment clarity is easier to accept. The combination of forgetting what I am doing today while waking up in Vietnam 45 years ago makes me wonder if these are separate diseases that in some way enhance each other.
Confusing the issue for me is knowing that when I spend full days at the flying field and get very tired I hardly ever have the Vietnam-based nightmares. At the same time getting over tired increases the forgetfulness, often in a big way. Recently after working at our field cutting trees I began losing track of where I was on the way home. It is that ability to forget today while at the same time reliving 45 years ago that makes me wonder just how much even the medical community really knows about Alzheimer’s or PTSD.
What is becoming ever more clear is that I am already doing something that even my neurologist thinks is the most effective at slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s. During the last two visits to the neurologist she flatly told me to “fly all I can” as that seems to be doing the most good for me. I agree with that because I feel the best when I can accomplish building a plane, flying a new maneuver or writing a new flying related story for my sites. It would be wonderful if they would come up with a pill that does more than antagonize my stomach and I am sure that eventually medicine will make that breakthrough. However, I am equally certain that such advancements are years down the road so I have to focus on what works now and hope that I can keep pushing this disease back until somebody finds a way to fix it.
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