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If you're new to this blog and want some context for it, read this post from the day I announced my Alzheimer's disease and this post about the day I announced I had lost it. For more info, visit my website with my autobiography and all blog entries in chronological order for easier reading to catch up. There's also a sermon on the spiritual lessons I've learned through this journey through my damaged mind.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Standing Out

There are parts of me, I find it hard to admit, that are actually excited about this diagnosis, parts of me that are not really disappointed, parts, in fact, that even want it.  It’s not the prospect of real dementia or lying drooling in a nursing home bed, of course, but there is something titillating about the present, about being that person who can shock others, who talks honestly about his illness and helps others relate better to it.  It’s sort of like when I shared publicly what my doctor mistakes had been and meant or the fact of my depression and its meaning.  My willingness to talk openly about mistakes and depression—including when I spoke in medical schools and medical conferences—was a contribution to those there.  I got lots of positive feedback.  Others saw it as a special spiritual maturity.

I’ve always liked standing out from others, doing things that few others dare (or want) to do.  It’s been part of my sense of self.  This is such an occasion. 

How strange! 

For the past several years I’ve been restless, even bored.  During most of my adulthood, I’ve moved or otherwise changed my work every seven years or so.  I left Yale for Germany.  I left medical school and went to a tiny, remote town.  I took a year’s sabbatical from medicine to be a house-husband in Marja’s home town in Finland.  We moved to the inner city of Washington so I could practice medicine with the impoverished.  I founded Joseph’s House, a home for homeless men with AIDS, where our family lived for three years.  I left medicine and took another sabbatical to Finland.  I left Joseph’s House to become a full-time advocate and writing.  But now it’s becoming seven or eight years, and I’m restless again.  I’ve known this for several years but haven’t really known what to do, what kind of choice to make.  But now the choice has been made for me.  For these two weeks since the diagnosis, at least, it’s been interesting.  I can write this blog, speak to audiences, perhaps counsel others.  It’s a new life, and some parts of me look forward to it … despite the tragedy that I know is coming.

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