Excerpt 7 – Glimmer of Hope – 1995
My Journey to a
Next Generation Treatment
Donald E. Moss, Ph.D.
[Setting and Summary by Jim Summerton, Ph.D.]
[ Setting and Summary: Fred was the first Alzheimer's patient treated with MSF. Initially he had been given a low dose three times per week. After several weeks of this treatment Fred had failed to show any noticeable improvement. Therefore, his dosage was raised 50% and treatment was continued at this higher dose. A week later Drs. Moss and Berlanga (Pati), along with Fred and his wife, who was caring for him, attended a concert by the Chihuahua Symphony. Unfortunately, after the concert the evening was cut short by Fred's frightened response to the crowds as they strolled along the street - a fright response which is typical of Alzheimer's patients.
However, only three days later, at the new higher treatment dose Fred was now on, he began to show the first compelling signs of improvement in his memory and social interactions. ]
………………………………. As we exited the old building, the night life of Chihuahua was beginning to ramp up to full swing. Pati suggested that we stroll over to a nearby coffee house to enjoy the evening a little longer before we went home. People laughed and talked as they bumped along the sidewalk under the street lights. When Fred saw all the people and the bustle of the crowd, he panicked and tugged at Helen’s arm.
“I want to go home,” he said glancing around like a cornered animal. “I’ll get a taxi. I don’t like all these people.”
“Of course we’ll go home,” Pati said nodding to Helen.
Helen took his hand and held it up to her face. “Yes, we’ll go home.”
The events the evening of the symphony program were pretty much what can be expected with a demented patient. An evening out with strangers, in an unfamiliar venue, and immersed in a foreign language is stressful. What happened after that night was not expected.
* * *
The Monday morning that followed the concert, Helen brought Fred into the clinic earlier than usual, right after Pati had first opened the door. I was working in the lab making up capsules for the patients that day and heard them come in. Pati was greeting them as I came out to join everyone.
“Fred remembers the concert Friday night and he talked about it all day yesterday and then again this morning,” Helen exclaimed. “He even remembers being afraid of the crowd and trying to get a taxi to come home.” Helen was talking fast and beaming from ear to ear, gesturing with her hands. “He hasn’t been able to remember things like that for months!”
I needed to hear something like that. It made my heart beat a little faster and I felt a real lift. I also tried, without much success, to remind myself that one patient doesn’t really mean all that much. Sometimes they have good days and sometimes they have bad days. Maybe Fred had a random good day?
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t convince myself that Fred’s sudden improvement was a fluke. Even though I struggled to keep myself from getting too excited, I slept that night without worrying quite as much.