Casey’s Slope

Apr 22, 2022 | In Medicine

Casey’s slope

Stage I
name: Casey Jones
age: 61
witty, independent
good-spirited and fun 
inspired with visions of pending retirement 
35 years of good will at the steel mill coming to a close
and opening – precious time with 
precious grandkids, children
Marjorie, his wife 
absent of impairment

a nice and simple life

Stage II
set for enjoying the golden years 
for Casey, everything is in place 
except his watch
– which lately has been hiding its face

where did it go? the good one – you know?

friends assure him that memory declines with time 
don’t worry; everything is fine 
although impractical
forgetfulness with ageing is quite natural

Stage III
a visit to the doctor 
at Marjorie’s request 
was a battle 
but only partially against his will

other than the odd botched word 
everything is fine – don’t you concur? 
count backwards, you ask? 
an easy task – 75, 74, 71…
no – 72, 73… 
that’s not right…

his facial muscles tight 
muscles in prolonged contraction 
burn with lactic acid
as the doctor leaves the room 
Casey waits for a reaction
back in with a firm breath

Alzheimer’s disease? progressive degeneration?
that’s an oxymoronic sort of way to say 
I’ll drive myself insane 
through self-mutilation; desecration of my own brain

Stage IV
his head loses weight 
as alpha helices turn to pleated beta sheets 
and as they build 
pills endeavor to conceal what is real – 
dense, plaque deposits 
deterioration of cognition 
something is choking the living daylights out of him 
he wonders, would ignorance be bliss?

forgetting to fret would be a kiss on my face 
where is that feckng…wotch, anywy?

his reason wilts and exudes on him a guilt 
that he will be a burden 
on society 
his family tree

as scientists search for a cure 
a magic little vial 
from in vitro to clinical trials 
it looks like this may take a while

Stage V
a need for assistance with the mundane 
periodic feelings that he’s verging on insane 
his mind a myriad of dysfunctional molecules

wear ess that…what’s it called?

the missing watch becomes a wrong name becomes an unfamiliar face 
“Casey, she’s your daughter her name is Grace.”

the MRI says his brain will die
it’s shrinking in size
“Moderately severe cognitive decline.”

I’d say my brain works 25% of the time

aggregated amyloids gain armloads of power in numbers 
daggers to neurons 
acetylcholine – minimal.
memory and cognition – low.
but there still exists a familiar glow 
relationships hold strong and grow

Stage VI
with pajamas over clothes 
and shoes on wrong feet 
Casey wandered down the street 
Marjoree had no clue 
what she would do 
is he safe? Is he alive?

five miles away 
found hours later by police 
in the park, at night 
feeding ducks on the lake 
with a smile on his face.

same person, different life 
different day? Same wife.
needing care for 24 hours(more or less)
absence, apathy, happiness, 
cureless, careless, carless, sick

making love has taken on new meaning – 
caring for incontinence and spoon-feeding

who is bathing me? 
she looks familiar – could she be my wife? 
I don’t know, but she is very nice.

Stage VII
age: 75
not entirely alive 
monosyllabic, senseless
but not useless words 
I kreng kawfe mer jow 
leaves his mouth 
enters down a knowing earpath 
communication in emotions of the face 
smiling deep eyes, worried lips 
recognition of expression 
as a thrilling level of cognition 
meaning in moments

in death, 
an avalanche of memories of
love, flesh, colour, sin 
collide, collapse and conquer him
rise over run 
to the end of Casey’s slope

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