My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease (see an update), first noticed in 1998, and for many years lived in a memory/assisted living center. I’ve studied the disease, interviewed professionals, and blog about her on occasion, in hopes of helping myself, and others, learn about this horrible “long good-bye” disease. From the heartbreak of losing Mom, to the heartbreak and frustration of watching my dad cope with her decline, to participating in the Alzheimer’s Foundation fundraising walks, my sisters and I so often felt helpless.
In February 2006, in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the lead character’s mother “woke up” from her Alzheimer’s Disease. I blogged about it at the time.
In my post, I stated that I could find no other reference anywhere online that cited an Alzheimer’s patient experiencing hours of lucidity.
Then, a few days ago, I heard from Loretta. I was stunned at her email. (Shared below.)
It seems, in fact, that this awakening, this seemingly unbelievable “coming to,” may not be unheard of after all. Is it possible that it happens more frequently than we think? If there is nothing in the literature, can it be possible that researchers or scientists don’t know anything about it?
This possibility raises dozens of questions…. some of which we may explore on this page. I offer it as a resource for those of us who want to ask these questions, and perhaps find some answers, and to create a central location where we can begin learning more.
Please contact me, or comment below, if you’d like to join this discussion. I believe there may be others out there who have had this experience with their loved ones, but have somehow been told it wasn’t important, or it didn’t really happen — anything — to discount it.
I believe we can learn from them, although I’m not sure how. Maybe YOUR responses will give us some clues.
If you have had such an experience please write to me at blog(at)EPadvocate.com
So we’ll begin here, with Loretta’s story:
I was doing some research on the Internet re: the possibility of a temporary “awakening” of an Alzheimer’s patient and came upon your blog. (Typed in “Grey’s Anatomy Alzheimer’s”). In your blog for Feb. 6, 2007 you stated that: “Nowhere in my research could I find anything that says an Alzheimer’s patient can redevelop the clarity that Ellis Grey did on the TV show.”
You are correct in stating that there is nothing in the medical literature that we can find online that documents this phenomenon, but I am here to tell you that this DID happen to my Mom for about 10 hours on July 21, 2007. We actually videotaped her, and it truly was a mind-boggling event for all of us.
Just wanted you to know for the record that our entire family lived through this incredible experience and we have the tapes to prove it…. read more from Loretta…
Then we heard from Francesco in Italy about his mother, too:
Last week on an Italian TV Network they broadcasted the episode “Wishin’ and Hopin’ ” from the serial Grey’s Anatomy. I watched it and I was deeply moved from what happened to Ellis Grey, the mother of the main character. Afterwards I surfed the Net for answers or comments and the only serious notes I could find about this issue was on your blog.
The fact is that ten years ago my mother was diagnosed with Senile Dementia after two episodes of Ischemia and then she kept on getting worse over the years and now she can barely walk (with help), she can’t take care of herself, she doesn’t speak and she even doesn’t recognise me or my brother and sister at times. Two years ago she was taken to the hospital due to a Renal Colic and there, because she was not able to eat or drink and her pressure was collapsing, they put her on a drip filled with Saline solution and Amino acids. After the second bottle of the phleboclysis she started to speak as she used to do when she wasn’t ill and she remembered every detail of her life before getting the disease. She started to complain about my clothes (I always ride my bicycle to move in town so I can’t wear a suit…) and about my sister’s hair like she always used to do in the past!… read more from Francesco….
Now we have a third documentation from Suzanne:
My mom was diagnosed three years ago and for the past 8 months has been non communicative. Her conversation was limited to nods, yes, no or same. Her Neuropsychologist indicated that the disease was progressing quickly. All of the medications were not slowing the progression as anticipated. It was difficult to see her at almost a vegetative state.
It was 9/28 and my mom and I were invited to eat at my daughters. While sitting in her dining room, my mom commented on how pretty the room was. Surprised but shrugging it off, we went home. Then it began and my husband and I could not ignore how my mom actually started a conversation, joking, laughing and asked to stay home the next day. Stated that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself etc. The conversation continued and I hated to go to bed. We finally did and I woke expecting her to have reverted back but NO, she was alert and lucid. It was like a miracle…. read more from Suzanne…
Readers? Comments? Let’s get this conversation started!
Please write to me at blog(at)epadvocate.com