Wednesday 27 August 2014

Ask Me Anything

Sir Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2007. What would you do if you found out that you, too, suffered 'The Embuggerance'?

   I actually only found out that Terry Pratchett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 3 or 4 years ago. I've never read his works, but I do hold a great respect for him, and I've seen the TV adaptations of The Colour of Magic and The Hogfather and enjoyed them very much. He has a unique style and he's doubtlessly contributed a lot to the fantasy literature scene.
   Since I found out he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I've been unable to view it in another other than a creative perspective, and it's actually been because of that that I work harder and longer on my own writing now. You don't know what will happen to you in the future, you have no way of knowing at all, and that's scary, but it spurs me on. On lazy days where my brain won't work, instead of writing perfectly I write my book in note form to make sure I get some work done, and it usually comes out quite well and is often what I need to turn my brain on, at which point I go back and rewrite the notes properly with narrative. Funnily enough, it's when I work that way that I feel I work best.

   But, if I found out...I really don't know what I'd do. I support euthenasia, I always have, especially because of my mother's condition - no one has the right to tell us what we can and cannot do with our lives like that - and I respect his position on it, too. But to be put in that situation myself...
   Seeg's grandmother has Alzheimer's. I met her once. She doesn't speak any English, and I don't really speak Dutch, so I sat quietly and politely, answering questions translated by his parents and otherwise hanging back so that Seeg could see his grandmother. We were with her for about two hours and we lost count of how many times she asked who everyone was. I didn't really find the situation too awkward because of my experience with my mum - she often forgets who she is - but I did find it sad.

   Alzheimer's would take a massive toll on anyone, most certainly, your mind just slips away, and as a writer - an activity that requires attention, great thought and memory - it would destroy your career. Terry Pratchett has done well despite it over recent years, as he said it's a slow moving disease, but it does move, and it seems that it's only started to affect him recently, especially with his need to cancel his appearance at the International Discworld Convention.

   ...In short, I don't know what I'd do. I hope I never suffer in such a way, but there's little you can do to prevent it. Keeping fit and healthy can reduce the likeliness of certain things, but I don't believe that Alzheimer's is one of them.
   "...rather than let Alzheimer's take me, I would take it. I would live my life as ever to the full and die, before the disease mounted its last attack, in my own home, in a chair on the lawn, with a brandy in my hand to wash down whatever modern version of the 'Brompton cocktail' some helpful medic could supply. And with Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death."

   One could hope.


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