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A Neurologist's Battle With Alzheimer's

From Audio: Dr Daniel Gibbs - A Neurologist’s Personal Battle Against Alzheimer’s

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station description Alzheimer's Speaks Radio gives voice to all, sharing resources, tools, and products... read more
Alzheimer's Speaks Radio - Lori La Bey
Duration: 08:29
Dr. Daniel Gibbs spent twenty-five years of his life treating patients with Alzheimer's until realizing that he himself has the disease. Despite no diagnosis nor serious cognitive decline has occurred yet, Dr. Gibbs recognized the other signs of early-onset Alzheimer's.
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Dr. Daniel Gibbs spent twenty-five years of his life treating patients with Alzheimer's until realizing that he himself has the disease. Despite no diagnosis nor serious cognitive decline has occurred yet, Dr. Gibbs recognized the other signs of early-onset Alzheimer's.
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And Doctor Daniel gives is one of 50 million people worldwide with Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. And he's one of 5.8 million right here in America living with the disease. The difference is the Doctor gives is a neurologist who has spent 25 years caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease himself. He realizes that he too uh might have the disease, even though there's no official diagnosis or serious signs of cognitive decline um had had occurred. So how did he come to that conclusion? We're gonna find out um we will find out today as he tells us his story, We're also going to hear about his book title, a tattoo on my brain, a neurologist, personal battle against Alzheimer's disease. Doctor gives um stories are gonna warm your heart and inspire you as he shares how one scientist reckons with the disease, he has spent most of his life studying from the outside, looking in and now he finds himself with a front row seat on the inside of the disease. So welcome Doctor Gibbs, thank you so much for taking time to be with us today. I really appreciate it. Oh, I'm happy, I'm happy to be here with you now, I always ask that you know everybody and this is kind of funny if you've been personally touched in your own family or circle of friends with dementia. And I'd still like to know that if it if you've been surrounded by that. But then also when did you start noticing signs yourself that that concerns you? Well, I I had no obvious uh family members with uh Alzheimer's, but both of my parents died early on my, my dad died of cancer at age 60. And my mother was in her early seventies. So it really wasn't on my radar screen with a with a little um post hoc digging that I did once I had my diagnosis, I did discover more distant relatives that almost certainly had Alzheimer's. Um but as I say, it wasn't on my radar screen. Um in retrospect, my first symptoms of Alzheimer's uh probably occurred about 15 years ago. Uh When I first uh started to lose my sense of smell. Um Although at the time uh I had no idea that that might be related to Alzheimer's. Um and it was very very subtle at first I just uh uh actually remember the very first time I was walking the dog with my wife. Uh and uh I bent over to smell some roses and somebody's front yard. And I commented to my wife that boy, this is a beautiful rose, but it doesn't have much of a of a cent. And she smelled it says, yeah, it smells great. So that was just kind of a curiosity uh then about a year later uh these weird loser very smells called um they're pretty rare uh and not known to be associated with Alzheimer's but I would smell uh in older, that was always the same. Uh But with nothing in the real world making that smell, and it was always the smell of baking bread, mixed with perfume, very pleasant. Uh Actually if you read about phantasm is in the medical literature, um most of them are unpleasant, but mine were very pleasant uh they would last a couple of minutes or maybe up to an hour. And as I said, there was no obvious uh uh real uh olfactory stimulus. Uh And again, this is just a curiosity at the time I I was working full time I had uh no cognitive impairment. Uh And it wasn't until another six years later that I started to nose notice just some very mild um cognitive issues that I wouldn't have thought uh much about it all, by that time I was in my early sixties from mid sixties, um I had I had uh a occasional trouble remembering the names of colleagues. Uh I moved to a new office and I never could uh learn the the phone number of my new office or the address of my new office, but again uh uh I wasn't particularly concerned except by that time I I had accidentally learned that I have two copies of the April before which I knew uh you know, greatly increase my chance of having Alzheimer's disease. Um And the reason that I accidentally found that out was that uh my wife who is uh loves to do geological searches uh uh suggested that we get our DNA tested. And uh back in those days they they uh had a lock box uh in the results of your DNA uh that uh for a couple of neurological jeans. And uh I was interested in unlocking that box and looking because one of the jeans was a a gene for Parkinson's disease. And I and I knew the Parkinson's disease was associated with loss of sense of smell. And I wondered, you know, well maybe I'm gonna get Parkinson's disease someday. Uh with that gene was normal, I didn't have that, but the other gene was the April jean. And uh uh I was flabbergasted to find that I had two copies of the equal before, which gave me a very high chance of having Alzheimer's disease uh by the time I was 17 or a 50% chance I should save for 100% chance by age. At um so all of a sudden alzheimer's was on my radar screen and uh I uh had a friend who was a neurologist uh dementia specialist, and I asked him to do some off the record, cognitive testing with a computerized program and and uh I did that and uh I did very well in most areas uh in the 95th percentile, which means I did better than 95% of the people who took that test. Uh But in verbal memory uh I was only in the 50th percentile, so just about average, which so it's still normal, but there was just a hint there that something was not quite right with my verbal memory. So a couple of years later I uh had a little bit more cognitive impairment. So I volunteered for a study this would have been in 2015 um at nurse of California SAn Francisco. That was a neuro imaging study looking at a then new uh pet scan for uh looking for evidence of Alzheimer's for the february single of the neural february tangles that have abnormal protein in the brain. Um And so as part of that study uh I had uh an android pet scan, a pet scan MRI scan and two days of cognitive testing. And at the end of the week uh I was able to look at the scans and uh there was abnormal employed there, which was consistent with early Alzheimer's and there also was uh which is the the uh which appears later in the disease um more about the time that cognitive impairment sets in, but I still had essentially normal cognitive testing. So it was in the mild cognitive impairment range but the the pet scans were uh consistent with early Alzheimer's disease. And as the years have going on since then I've got a little bit
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