Tag Archives: FTD

The Lost Wife

She stares at me, owl-eyed, empty. There is no embarrassment when time ticks on. She stares. A sound breaks her gaze and her eyes lock on to a new target. She is nowhere to be found. The old her, that is. The woman who showed such immense joy and love as a mother is gone. Her husband moves her around the streets of their city like he is pulling a 100-pound weight on wheels in his hand. She goes with the flow. He and the children have built a life around this new woman – this wife and mother who is lost to a genetic disease that has stolen everything human about her. She is only 38 years old. She no longer speaks. She stares. She is led to the bathroom, to the shower, to the table where they put a fork or spoon in her hand for her to eat. Read more

The Puzzle of Language

There was an unspoken script in a young girl’s life growing up in a cultured family in Brescia, Italy in the 1970s that she would go on to a university to study the humanities. But this young girl had no interest in the arts or classics – she did poorly in Latin and Greek – and she had her sites set for medicine. Her mom grew up in a transitional generation in the early 1960s but observed feminism through a telescope. She knew she wanted something different for her only daughter, but she was still trapped in the tradition that etched out life for an Italian girl. Read more

Genetics of Frontotemporal Dementia: A Family Story

Almost 30 years ago, a middle-aged man traveled to an Alzheimer’s Association meeting with a copy of his mother’s autopsy in his bag. It read simply: dementia lacking distinct characteristics. He’d had his mother’s brain sent cross-country to try to figure out why she – and her two brothers and a cousin – died with a dementia that caused them to act impulsively and irrationally. It wasn’t just the bizarre behavior he was curious and concerned about. In illness, his mother’s brain was shrinking, and she’d lost so much of who she had been in her younger years. (She was 50 when people began noticing something very odd about her behavior.) But as her cognitive skills diminished she gained something rather remarkable: an exquisite talent for painting gazelles and churches and people. Read more