Friday, February 03, 2006

The Joys of Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is a tragic, debilitating illness. I spent a year volunteering in a nursing home as part of an Alzheimer’s program, where I helped seniors with the disease attend a weekly art class. Because I’ve spent a good portion of my life helping those with Alzheimer’s, I figure I’m allowed to make fun of it without going straight to hell. It’s like a trade-off. The good points I’ve earned by volunteering balance out the immoralities of what I find hilarious. Which is why I feel like I can share this story with you without being a total shitty-bad person.

I have a friend, or rather, FauxHawk has a friend that I mooch off of him, named TheCrazy. She is the most hilarious person I have ever met in my entire life, hands down. Every minute that I spend with her is a minute where I’m practically pissing myself laughing. She’s also the craziest biotch I know (and I mean biotch in a good way). To help you visualize this, picture this scenario. It’s a Tuesday night. She has hospital rounds the next day at 7am (she’s in the same med-school class as FauxHawk). She invites a few friends over “for a drink”. Fast-forward to 2:45 am, and TheCrazy is chugging a beer…through her nostril. Just to prove that she can. Doesn’t that make you feel good about the quality of care you receive in your local hospital? After hanging out with future doctors for the past year and a half, I can confidently say that the next time I need medical help I will be visiting a tribal healer for some roots.

Anyway, TheCrazy has a grandfather with Alzheimer’s. While she admits that this is very sad, it does have some benefits. In the case of her grandfather, he thinks that every single day is TheCrazy’s birthday. So, every single day she receives a phone call from her grandfather where she picks up and he starts singing “Happy Birthday” with gusto (yes! G-word!). She also receives a big fat birthday cheque from him about once a week in the mail. This has been going on for about a year. She has no intentions to stop it. Do you blame her?

So, TheCrazy’s grandfather gets Alzheimer’s, and she gets enthusiastic phone calls (and who doesn’t love that?) and money on a regular basis. My great-grandfather had Alzheimer’s, and all I got was a pat on the head and told I was a “good boy” because for the last year of his life he thought I was his dog, Lucky.

Life isn’t fair.


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