First, what to make of the spinal tap/Alzheimer’s news…
If you missed it, researchers reported that doing a spinal tap—a lumbar puncture—and examining the withdrawn fluid for certain proteins can tell who has or will have Alzheimer’s Disease or AD. Last week, enthusiastic commentators fantasized about diagnostic spinal taps becoming as common as mammograms or colonoscopies. Maybe there would be specialty spinal tap clinics. All in all, the media greeted the spinal tap method of obtaining an AD diagnosis as a great step forward.
What got lost in the reporting
One important thing got lost in the headlines and articles—the opinions of consumers. We cottontops are not enthusiastic about spinal taps for any reason, least of all to tell us we are doomed to get a disease with no cure.
Also, spinal taps have a risk, persistent headaches being one of them. And, like other medical procedures, they cost, though a consumer will search in vain on the net for their actual cost, so removed are we from the financing of our medical care. But risks and costs are not the biggest objections I hear from readers.
Their reaction can be summed up this way: Are those researchers nuts? Do they think we want to ruin our present lives with worry over a downer future? Will we want to condemn ourselves to Death Row with a spinal tap?
Well, the standard answer to our questioning is this: knowing ahead of time about AD gives us a chance to prepare for the times to come. But I say we should be prepared with wills, medical directives and plans for our old age no matter what. We shouldn’t need predicted disasters to get us off the dime.
Neglected: Cause and prevention
Truth to tell, it is probably a great help to researchers to have more stable ground, a biomarker spinal fluid test, under their feet, but what I want to know is why the main thrust of research is aimed at a cure. Why not a big push on finding the cause of AD? All things have a cause. What causes AD? And then, how can AD be prevented? But there is profit in selling drugs and procedures once the AD horse is kicking around in the brain barn, and prevention is not likely to inflate anybody’s bottom line.
Anyhow, that’s a consumer take on one of the many unfolding AD research stories. Stay tuned because it’s going to go on and on, including the fascinating possibility of a vaccine.
Humor lives in unexpected places
Last, who would have thunk that people would be able to laugh at Alzheimer’s, but, of course, we as a nation do have a broad funny bone. Jokes like this float around the web:
Doctor: Mr. Green, I don’t like telling you this, but you have cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Mr. Green: Well, at least I don’t have cancer.
There are also many quick one-liners about the benefits of memory loss:
All the wonderful new people you meet every day
A new bed partner every night.
We Americans evidently can find humor in all situations. Mark Twain would be proud.