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Dad's Not All There Any More


Dad's Not All There Any More

Dad's Not All There Any More back

Alex Demetris

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Page 45 Review by Jonathan

"I remembered Muhammad Ali on TV back in 1996."
...
"This is sad. But it looks like he's having a wank!"
"Dad! You can't say that!"
...
"Maybe the Gods overheard that comment. Mind you, Dad never got this kind of body tremor."

Oh that is so, so wrong but it did make me laugh. Still, I think humour in the face of adversity is one of the best medicines there is. Or indeed palliatives in the face of terminal illness which is what John's Dad Pete is facing now that he also has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. And whilst Pete fortunately hasn't developed the tremors typically associated with the condition that Muhammad Ali so bravely put on show to the entire world whilst he held the Olympic torch aloft, he has developed dementia. A very specific sort of dementia linked with Parkinson's known as Lewy body dementia.

Named after the neuroscientist Friedrich Lewy, who discovered abnormal protein deposits in the brains of a small proportion of deceased Parkinson's sufferers, this form of dementia is sadly just as pernicious as the more well known types. Thus we see Pete's story unfold from his diagnosis through to his current state in nursing care. His son John recounts the sad degeneration from spritely retiree to a mentally befuddled, physically incapacitated wreck. I should also add this comic is based directly on creator Alex Demetris and his family's experiences with his own father's Lewy body dementia, so whilst it is ostensibly fiction, I'm sure what you're reading is most heartfelt and extremely personal to some considerable degree.

I have to say, though, for a comic dealing with such a tragic personal story (and topic generally), there is a surprising degree of levity to be found. It is some consolation to John that his dad - and this is certainly not for the case for all dementia sufferers - seems fairly content, despite all his problems. As John puts it, just below a pair of panels with a ribald joke from his dad too rude to repeat here, "His mind may be misfiring, but his personality is still very evident." It's one of the great mysteries of dementia isn't it? How someone can be fully present one moment, conversing with loved ones, then gone again the next? Another excellent medically orientated publication from Singing Dragon who are to be wholly commended for their efforts in championing this genre of material.

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