Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Glen Campbell, RIP

Image result for dementia with lewy bodies + images

So Glen Campbell has finally succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease - a terrible condition which my mother suffered from in the last years of her life.

I think my favourite Glen Campbell song of all time is 'Galveston', another Jimmy Webb composition which I wrote about on the blog site a couple of years ago.

Haunting, beautiful yet curiously uplifting - all at the same time.  


Galveston (02/05/15)

I didn't appreciate until recently that the song 'Galveston' made famous by Glen Campbell was actually an anti-war song which had its words subtly changed in the version which became a big hit.

Apparently 'Galveston' was sung originally by a chap called Don Ho and the words tell of a soldier waiting to go into battle while thinking of his sweetheart back home in Galveston, Texas.

But the original words "Wonder if she could forget me, I'd go home if they would let me, put down this gun and go to Galveston" were replaced with "I still hear your sea waves crashing/while I watch the cannons flashing/I clean my gun/And dream of Galveston."

In this YouTube video Glen Campbell discusses the song and a slower delivery with the songwriter, Jimmy Webb, who penned a whole number of big hits including MacArthur Park.

True Grit (26/02/17)

As Oscar night approaches, I think it's worth pointing out that while John Wayne was a legendary figure in American cinema, the Duke also enjoyed a very well-deserved reputation for being on the right of American politics.

But in accepting his one and only Oscar for the movie 'True Grit', Wayne displayed the kind of grace and humility that you could never imagine from a self-obsessed narcissist like Donald J Trump.


Living Nightmare (09/11/15)

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I can identify with this report from the BBC in which Susan Williams explains that the last period of her husband's life was a living nightmare, as he struggled with anxiety, depression and the slow death of his brain.

Because my mother suffered from a similar condition and there's nothing worse than watching someone you love fade away right in front of your eyes.

Robin Williams' widow says his health was 'a nightmare'

BBC Entertainment & Arts

Image copyright - AP Image caption - Susan Williams said her husband was 'the bravest man I've ever known'

Comedian Robin Williams had health problems that would have killed him within three years if he had not ended his own life, his widow has said.

In her first interview since the actor died last August, Susan Williams said her husband was "disintegrating before my eyes" in the weeks before his death.

"We were living a nightmare," she told ABC's Good Morning America.

He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and had signs of a condition known as dementia with Lewy bodies.

The condition is caused by deposits of an abnormal protein called Lewy bodies inside brain cells, which disrupt the brain's normal functions.

It can interfere with memory, judgement, movement, concentration and visual perception, according to the NHS.

"If Robin was lucky, he would've had maybe three years left," Mrs Williams said. "And they would've been hard years. And it's a good chance he would've been locked up."

Image copyright - Getty ImagesImage caption - Williams won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998

Williams was "completely clean and sober" when he died, his widow said, but was struggling with depression and anxiety.

His physical symptoms included stiffness, slumping, a shuffling gait and "losing his ability in his voice", she said.

"It's one minute, totally lucid… And then five minutes later, he would say something that wasn't... it didn't match."

The actor was dealing with his problems as well as he could, she said, describing him as "the bravest man I've ever known".

"But the last month he could not. It was like the dam broke."

'I don't blame him'

Asked whether her husband's suicide was his way of taking back control, she replied: "In my opinion, oh, yeah.

"I mean, there are many reasons. Believe me. I've thought about this. Of what was going on in his mind, what made him ultimately commit... you know, to do that act.

"And I think he was just saying, 'No.' And I don't blame him one bit. I don't blame him one bit."

Robin Williams was one of America's most popular comedians and actors, thanks to roles in films like Mrs Doubtfire, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting. He was 63.

Lewy Body Dementia (19/08/15)

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I read an intriguing article in The Sunday Times recently which focused on the sad death of the comedian Robin Williams who took his own life in August 2014.

Now apart from my fondness for Williams and his great body of work cover the years, the other thing that really interested me was the fact that the comedian appears to have been misdiagnosed as suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

When according to the ST article Williams was more likely to have been afflicted by a form of dementia, known as LBD (Lewy Body Dementia), a degenerative condition which causes hallucinations along with other Parkinson-like symptoms.  

The reason for my intrigue is that my dear Mum was diagnosed with Parkinson's many years ago, but before she died the diagnosis was changed to one of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia with suspected LDB which rang true of course because in the last years of her life my mother experienced very vivid hallucinations. 

The hallucinations started out benignly enough with visions of the family growing and my dad, who was long dead, although they got worse as my Mum thought of herself as 14 years old again, getting up at 6am in the morning before setting off for Glasgow where she had a job as a seamstress.

In those days, education and schooling for young girls stopped at age 14 whereas young boys continued at school until 16. 

Anyway the point is that the hallucinations became dangerous and that was the point that 24 hour care became necessary, but having read the article about Robin Williams I am troubled by the fact that my Mum was receiving Parkinson's medication for years that was probably doing her more harm rather than good. 

The ST article said that a definite diagnosis of LBD can only be made after death because only an autopsy can tell for that the Lewy bodies (which seem to cause the hallucinations) exist for sure within a person's brain.

Which I find rather odd I have to say because with all the fancy medical scanners available these days, you would have thought one was sophisticated enough to show the presence of the tiny 'clumps' of matter within the brain that seem to cause LBD.   

My Mum had good days and and bad days right to the end, but she always took a great interest in the work I was doing, in particular the big, ongoing battle for equal pay with Action 4 Equality Scotland because, in her time, my Mum did a variety of low paid jobs with her own local council.

No one knows for sure, of course, but the thrust of The Sunday Times article is that LBD played a big part in Robin Williams' suicide and I imagine that if my Mum could have I'm pretty certain she would have brought her own life to a different, more peaceful end as well.