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Excerpt: 'When It Gets Dark'

Cover of 'When It Gets Dark'

Following is an excerpt from the book When It Gets Dark, DeBaggio's second book on Alzheimer's:

Joyce and I have talked several times about taking trips, flying away to happy, interesting foreign lands and unusual places. I see a man with Alzheimer's swirl off to play and travel, a last chance to carry on and have fun. It is something I have never done and the idea has an almost irresistible charm. Yet, I hem and haw and roll my head in the sand. We go nowhere.

What I have been unable to tell Joyce clearly is that I don't want to wander outside my deteriorating brain. With the onset of Alzheimer's, I saw new revelations and visited places I had never been. They have turned out to be as useful, frightening, pleasant and beautiful as anything I could have wished. The real reason we haven't gone anywhere is that I am afraid of getting lost. I need the familiar around me to give me comfort and stability. I am at such a tender point in life now that I worry when I head out for the grocery store five blocks away. I get angry if a chair is moved in the house.

I wanted to chart this world of memory I've discovered inside my brain but I am beginning the exploration too late. The fires of Alzheimer's have nearly destroyed my short-term memory. My long-term memory is left battered; trying to find moments of the past is like fishing with a dull, rusting hook without bait.

From When It Gets Dark by Thomas DeBaggio. Copyright 2003 by Thomas DeBaggio. Reprinted by permission of The Free Press/Simon & Schuster Inc.

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Thomas DeBaggio