welcome to the organic green doctor blog

i am a family physician who was diagnosed with
early mild cognitive impairment(mci) amnestic type on december 21, 2010
this is a precursor to alzheimers disease
because of this diagnosis i have opted to stop practicing medicine
this blog will be about my journey with this disease
please feel free to follow me along this path
i will continue blogging on organic gardening, green living,
solar power, rainwater collection, and healthy living
i will blog on these plus other things noted to be interesting

Monday, November 30, 2015

my story revisited

last week as we were driving up to dallas to the alzheimers research center
at ut southwestern
thats where all this started five years ago
unsuspecting i was then
i thought about how i felt driving up in 2010
compared to a few weeks later
compared to how i felt driving up last week
compared to how i feel today writing this blog

8 years ago i underwent a mental testing for my long term care insurance
that took about 30 minutes
i got all the answers correct
normal is to even miss a few
i didnt

5 years ago i volunteered for the adni study
to be followed yearly at the alzheimers research center
because of my familys history of alzheimers disease
i was to be in the normal control group of the study
as i sat taking the memory test
some questions similar to the ones i had answered 3 years previously
all correct
now those answers were just not there that day
when i realized there was a problem

a few weeks later i met with a neurologist
received the diagnosis of amnestic mild cognitive impairment
known as amnestic  mci
the precursor usually to full blown alzheimers disease

thinking back
it was a devastating diagnosis to me
to my wife she and my family
i immediately stopped practicing never to return
it turned my life our life upside down

all i could think was the terrible awful fight my mother
and younger brother had with the disease
i and we werent ready to be there yet
later that year a lengthy lengthy several hour evaluation by
our long term disability insurance confirmed the diagnosis again

so what did i do
what would you have done
luckily finances were not an issue with us

in regards to finances i put all my investments in our iras into a
target date fund only one making it easy for my wife she
to manage whenever i could not do it anymore
before with the help of my financial planner rainwater brother
my investments were more complicated and required more
regular interventions
so i simplified them knowing my wife she would never figure it out

i made sure all our legal documents were done
will power of attorney power of attorney for health care living will
no cpr when the time comes

now if i pass out
dear my wife she remember that time is not here yet

i did lots and lots of reading on alzheimers
i at times realize i know more about whats happening in alzheimers
research than many neurologists and most primary care doctors

i decided to find those things that have been possibly shown to
make me better make this disease process slow down
if you had noticed the problems i had the first time i did the memory
tests at the alzheimers center in yourself
you would have been very very concerned about having dementia
there was no doubt in my mind after that day that
my time had arrived

so heres what i did
i decided to be actively involved with the alzheimers association in
their walks to end alzheimers
knowing they were the big fund raisers for the fight against this disease
our government had drastically cut funding for this disease
actually delaying potential treatments by several years
i decided to be up front and personal with this disease
talking freely about my diagnosis what i feel about it
about my families fight with this disease
mother father brothers aunts uncles now maybe myself

i decided to do talks and answer questions about this disease
for folks seeking answers
ive done lots and lots of these over the last few years
as well as
helping families navigate the medical system to get the proper workup
diagnosis and treatment

i decided to be active socially mentally and physically
so i volunteer at meals on wheels habitat for humanity alzheimers association
and help with some school gardens
as well as maintain my own garden and ten acres
i decided to get aggressive with my health
get max control of my blood pressure
get max control of my cholesterol
get active doing my country n aerobics
get my blog to write at least once a week on alzheimers disease
for others to read and learn
get my weight and diet under good control
which ive maintain a normal weight and an almost vegetarian diet
the mind diet
get the most of life out of each day that i can without being too ocd
about it
i rarely sit around wasting time
sometimes i think i need to do more of that
get myself to relax and meditate some
i do this commonly when i work outside

then with the consultation with my neurologist
i decided to take aricept or donepezil for the possibility of this
being alzheimers disease

now ive had the side effects
initially they were severe but most are tolerable now
i mostly just shrug them off
nausea dizziness blurred vision leg cramps burst of energy in the am
loss of energy in the afternoon and evening restless sleep
real vivid non disturbing dreams
the worst side effect
the one that makes me at time not want to take the aricept
the lack of sleep it causes every night
as i told my wife she this weekend
imagine if you got only 5 hours of sleep a night
i know what you would be doing
riding a broom is what you would be doing

now i compensate for that loss of sleep by taking afternoon naps
without them i would be a zombie
now i have had bad zombie dreams where they were about to
get me but those have gotten better

i have incorporated these naps into my life
sometimes they interfere with things
thats a sacrifice ive made
knowing what could happen if i stopped the aricept or donepezil
i might come crashing down to a lower level of mental capability
that i would not recover from

for people like me with amnestic mci who carry the double barrel
apoe 4 gene
the gene that puts you at risk for late onset alzheimers
taking aricept or donepezil early on may delay the onset for several
the onset of that drop off a cliff that eventually occurs with alzheimers

those without the apoe 4 dont get as much benefit
i guess thats one good way to look at having the double apoe4 gene
i guess

this last week as i was taking my memory test
the same or similar ones ive taken before
i knew as i was taking it that i was definitely better than 5 years before

lets put a number on it
30 being perfect
for my long term care evaluation i was a 30
for my intial memory test at the alzheimers center i was a 23
trust me if your result was this low it would bother you
5 years late my score is 27 which is consider in the normal range

so basically i have returned back to a normal evaluation

i think its because of all the things ive done to improve my health
both my wife she and i agree that it may be partially due to the
benefit of the aricept or donepezil
i take 12 different supplements that have been implied to possibly
help with improvement of cognition or memory
basing it on a recent research study form the alzheimers center
at ucla

so putting it all together
i feel like i probably have early early alzheimers disease
based on going from normal to abnormal memory over 3 years
having a strong strong family history of the disease
having the double apoe 4 gene that puts me at risk
having low beta amyloid in the spinal fluid and elevated tau protein
in the spinal fluid both are associated with alzheimers disease
to be done in jan or feb a amyloid pet scan which if positive
means that what i have is more likely alzheimers disease

so my wife she and i have some hope now compared to 5 years ago
hope that this thing has been slowed down some
actually hopefully a lot
making our future more promising

we have hope for the future

thanks to all of you who have supported us over the last few years
thanks to all of you who read my blog and share it
help spread to the word on alzheimers
my wife she and i
had a very happy thanksgiving

the organicgreen doctor


  1. Lucky ME!
    PROUD to be...
    my wife she
    P.S. Occasional broom-rider? Guilty!

  2. So thrilled for these good results. You both worked hard to earn them.

  3. Glad to see you're doing so well and living such a healthy and full life. Rachel and Brian