That’s a title that should get some attention, but it’s not what you think. As Ryan Reynolds once said in the hilarious sit-com Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place (1998-2001) “Come, sit, admire my big brain!”
I didn’t talk about this back in the Spring when it happened, but last April, out of nowhere, I had a massive migraine headache. I had never had one before, and the symptoms of this particular one were more like the symptoms you might have if you had a stroke, and that’s how they evaluated me at the hospital.
At one point after a brain scan a tech mentioned “some brain shrinkage” and off-handedly said “But that’s normal.” First, no guy wants shrinkage, especially George Costanza. Who remembers that episode?
Following the ER visit where they decided that it was only a migraine headache, I was determined not to end up like my father. I began reading about Alzheimer’s, how and why it occurs, and possible behavioral/nutritional interventions to minimize my chances of forgetting all of you wonderful online friends over the next twenty years.
I’ve decreased my alcohol consumption. I’ve gone back to playing table tennis. I just signed up for piano lessons. I exercise every day. I’ve altered my diet, minimizing sugar intake and increasing fruits, vegetables and plant proteins, as well as intermittent fasting 2-3 times a week. I also have a half-caff cup of coffee once in the morning and once in the afternoon. All those things have added up to me feeling like my brain is sharper every day.
Because of a previous cancellation, yesterday was my first follow up with the neurologist. He was interested in whether I had any more migraine symptoms since the ER visit. I told him that I had some very mild symptoms now and then. Nothing that impairs my functioning or even bothers me much. I told him that my bigger concern was Alzheimer’s. I told him about my father and my genetic testing.
He pulled up my brain scans on his laptop and said that there was not really any shrinkage and couldn’t understand why the tech had said that. He looked at an image of my brain and actually said, “That’s a great looking brain.” And he emphasized that it almost appeared as if my brain could barely fit inside my skull.
I walked out of that appointment feeling like I was floating on a cloud. A weight that I didn’t realize I was carrying was suddenly off my shoulders. I know though that I can’t let my guard down. Alzheimer’s is in my genes and it could get me if I’m not careful. At the end of the day though, all I’m thinking about, with a smile on my face, is that I don’t have any “shrinkage” and I have “a great looking brain.”
Don’t take anything for granted and have a great weekend! ~Phil
So glad that you are good, Phil. A pox on that tech. Here I sit at 80 years having spent the better part of my life practicing good nutrition and exercise. The things you listed are the things I do regularly. I do have a glass of wine a day at dinner as I have for the last 55 years. (I recommend it) Health is all about paying attention to signals and getting a physical annually. So stay healthy.
Thanks John! I’m working hard at staying healthy.
Good for you.