Sunday October 26, 2008



Now you can understand my email address!

Check out the new category at the top of the page. It describes another side of me other than just being a physician — The Knitting Doctor.

I think knitting is one of those things I’ve always done which may have helped me more than I’ll ever know. Maybe it actually prevented me from developing Lewy Body Disease early on! It’s one of those visuospatial crafts which stimulates a certain part of the brain. And each and every craft works on a different part of the brain! So, get out the needles, the hooks, some thread, some yarn or some rope! Yes, rope. Making knots for all those boats and ships……..yes, they help to keep the brain active!

The little picture here is from Beth Brown-Reinsel’s book calledKnitting Ganseysshown on her Knittingtraditions website. I made this about 3 years ago for my nephew in New Hampshire. Ironically, his looks are very similar. I remember well having tremors at the time but I kept plugging along with the sweater just thinking that I needed to relax more. Little did I know Lewy was snaking his way in and I didn’t even know it. That is the time that I was the moderator for the Gansey List on Yahoo. 

For years, I knit on a daily basis. It was good for me. But………knowing what I know now………..I should have also been doing other hobbies and crafts along the way. Since each activity stimulates a unique portion of the brain, I had only been working on one of them. But this part of my brain is probably over developed since knitting is second nature to me. For the past 1-2 years, though, I lost some interest in knitting. Guess what? Yes, I just thought it was stress since I didn’t feel any depression. Looking back, I blamed every one of my symptoms of LBD to ‘stress.’ How pathetic that I didn’t know any better. But then no one around me did either. I now realize that I was suffering from apathy, a common symptom of dementia.

Since I’ve been on the Aricept and the Namenda, the apathetic days are fewer and fewer. I’ve been able to resume knitting but not as intensely as in the past. I am currently working on a pastel green reversible cable baby blanket. Big deal! Well, actually it is. I’m very happy that I can now knit again and look forward to continuing to do it for many years to come.

However, David, don’t get to complacent. There are other crafts and 120 other ways to increase my brain power. Let me think now. I’m able to resume the computer again…..another ingrained activity. I should probably review my Spanish which I learned during the 4 years living in Guadalajara, Mexico. But there isn’t anyone around here who speaks Spanish. I could review it on the web but it just isn’t the same as speaking another language in real life. Think now. You’ve added various puzzles to your list of new activities, thinking out loud with this blog. Guess I’ll take a look at that 120 list and see what might interest me. But, be careful. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. You have a tendency to want to do so much but then you get tired and feel guilty whenever you don’t immediately follow through with your own expectations.

Margo and Stein………….you guys were a breath of fresh air yesterday! Thanks for visiting us. We love you guys. You and your family have been a Rock of Gibraltar to me over the years. Margo, I remember so clearly the first time we met. I wanted to interview you to be my administrative assistant when I opened up my private practice right out of residency training. It seems like this past week but it really was in 1982. That’s why you still seem so young to me. Happy Birthday this week. You are still in your 40s to me. You hold your age of 70 uncommonly well!! You’re so energetic, vibrant and full of life! I used to think that 70 was ‘old.’ Now I know better.

It’s been a quiet low key day today. atching football, knitting and playing with the dogs. Pam is tired. We just found out that both her potassium and iron are both low. I’m worried about her. I remember when the joke was just to give someone some “Geritol.” I don’t know if they even sell that stuff anymore. Those were the days~~

Enough for today.



5 Responses

  1. David, maybe this is why I feel a compulsion to crochet. It is totally outside any frame of reference I have in my life, but the repetiveness of it is so satisfying. My Dad had Lewy Body, my mother has Alzheimer’s and as the nurse at the hospital a couple of weeks ago told me, I’m screwed genetically.

    I sure hope not!

  2. Dear David,

    I share your enthusiasm over Namenda and how it returned some of your interest in arts and crafts. When I began Aricept, it helped a great deal with being able to complete tasks with multiple steps to be taken over time. I think of it as a serviceable, functional improvement.

    And then I began on Namenda, and it was as if I had been given some of my creativity back. I quickly developed a confernece plan and wrote the materials. And once again I was able to look at an arrangements of photographs and not only understand them individually, but see the “larger” message in their grouping together. What had simply been my best friend’s pictures of her three grandchildren was now a deliberate juxtaposition yielding a commentary on the proclivities of teenaged girls. It was magical, I thought, that I had reclaimed even the tiniest bit of my old artistic vision.

    Sadly for me, however, most of my damage is in the right hemisphere, so my impaired visuo-spatial skills, my loss of a sense of spatial relationships, and my lack of eye-hand coordination have defeated my ability to actually DO any of the arts and crafts that I enjoyed in the past. I never knitted, but I did crewel work and embroidery and sketched and painted.

    I’ve tried since I developed dementia, but I am embarrassed at the pitiful works I create. I even took a “One Stroke Tole Painting” class and failed miserably at the first session. It didn’t help in the least that the teacher painted and demonstrated the “one stroke” and its variations with her right hand, and I had to try to mentally and physically convert the instructions for my left hand.

    So knit on and enjoy!

    Carole M.

  3. Hi David,
    I loved reading your post today. I, too, am a knitter! The sweater you knit for your nephew is just wonderful! I also dabble in other crafts – sometimes I get bored with one thing, move on to something else, but I always come back to knitting. Unfortuantely, I also have about 10 projects going on at one time…. I do love to crochet also – most recently I’ve taken up beading too…. I’m glad you’ve returned to knitting! There are some wonderful on line websites to order great yarns from – I can send you that info if you like!
    Never give up – may you be knitting happily for many more years to come!

  4. Even in your area, there are probably a lot of spanish-speaking people showing up for services for the poor. Would you be up to being a translator at your local free medical clinic? Or could you and Pam volunteer at the nearest shelter for the homeless or soup kitchen a couple of times a month?

  5. Hello, Do something for help the hungry people from Africa or India,
    I added this blog about that subject:

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