Thursday, July 19, 2007

What do you mean I'm not immortal?

I've always suffered from the pathological belief in my own immortality. I can remember clearly as a thinking to myself: "I won't grow old. I won't die." A part of me has never really believed that a time would come when I would be feeble, or even more, that my consciousness would cease to exist. I can only assume that this feeling of mine isn't THAT out of the ordinary. That other people find it hard to believe their day will come. Assuming you aren't the first in your family and personal circle to bite the dust, the deaths of growing numbers of those around you as you grow older probably helps drive the point home.
But now here I am suddenly faced the possibility that I won't live forever, that I am, after all, only a mortal. Fuck. This Alzheimer's thing is fucking with my head.
I did some research online tonight about Early Onset Alzheimer's. It seems that where it runs in a family - as it seems to with my family: my father and uncle both suffer from Alzheimer's - the children of sufferers have a 50-50 chance of contracting the disease. It's a dominant gene on the 14th chromosome, so if you got it, well, baby, you got it. Fuck.
And the scary part of this is that it can develop any time between your mid-30s and 65, though it most commonly strikes people in their 50s. I'm 40. Am I shitting my pants? Yep.
What's more it's making me think about all the things in life I wanted to achieve. Stuff I wanted to spend the next 40-50 years experiencing. We want to have a child next year and I wanted to see them graduate university some day. My wife, who I love more and more every day, is 12 years younger than me. I wanted the opportunity to grow old with her - not to have her have to wipe my ass for me before she's even 50 years old.
My writing. I just got into the Canadian Film Centre's writing program. It's taken me close to ten years of focused development of my craft to reach the point where I could get some professional recognition. I can see my lifelong dream of a writing career - FINALLY! - opening up before me. And now I can see it's end as well. The brutal, amoral unfairness of it all is almost too much to bear. I feel a great anger, not at my father for his faulty genes, but at nature and even more so at the shameful waste of resources that could otherwise be spent trying to find a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer's. Instead a billions of dollars every week is spent bombing and shooting people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Countries and drug corporations compete with one another rather than collaborating and sharing resources. It's madness.
And I'm angry that the very last of my childhood illusions has been utterly shattered. Does age spare us nothing?
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