I’ve been away all week at the Salt Lake City International Street Medicine Conference. My talk went as well as I could expect … even a standing ovation. Many of the older participants and even some of the younger ones had read my books and some even mentioned my positive influence on their careers. I felt something of a rock star.
On the other hand, I became even more aware of my increasing disability. The brief question-and-answer period after the talk went well enough. That’s ordinarily my favorite part of these speaking invitations, but this time I was anxious ahead of time. But I really felt out of it in the social events afterwards. I just wasn’t able to participate in the conversations. Given the anxiety this whole process has engendered, I don’t think I should accept speaking engagements to large groups anymore although I still feel like I can work with smaller groups.
I couldn’t easily find my way around the college campus where the conference was held. The lecture room was probably no more than a seven-minute walk from the hotel, but I had to ask for directions on perhaps six different trips before I got the route straight.
Someone yesterday mentioned his mother who had had Alzheimer’s for ten years. I had somehow been thinking two years or so of being aware of what was going on, a year or two of needing help and then perhaps death in the fifth year. To live so much of my life with this progressive disease seems intolerable. Sometimes the recognition of what is happening to me is a knife wound in my chest. Tears aren’t particularly close, but I wish they were.