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I knew revealing my Alzheimer's could get bumpy but it actually spurs me on. And yes, the shaggy hair is an attempt at youth or individuality, I haven't decided yet.
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Not Everyone Plays Nice

The jerk persona in a few people is showing

Text and photo by Tom Hintz

Posted - 6-20-2013

Going public with having Alzheimer's included some level of risk in terms of the thoughts (or lack, of them) some might express in response to the news. While the vast majority of responses have been warm and positive there have been a few who fill out the envelope on the “it takes all kinds” end of humanity. A few advertisers also thought that this was a good time to forget that they know me as well. None of this was completely unexpected.

The anonymity of the Internet let the first few mental giants prove their lack of verbal skills by replacing reasoned thoughts with profanity-laced wishes (and a couple “prayers”) for my swift demise. They were by far the fewest in number which leaves hope for humanity.

Of the roughly 100,000 emails I get each year several in the woodworking community had apparently have been waiting for this excuse to express their wishes for my early and occasionally a specifically painful passing. Oddly, all of these more exuberant detractors appeared to flame out while attempting to sound original in their attempt to invoke the wrath of the Grim Reaper.

More recently I received an email from a fellow who for a few years now has had nurtured a worsening opinion of me. I turned down his offer to let me make him famous (and/or rich) by my endorsing a product he planned to market. Initially that just made me arrogant in his estimation then but that opinion seems to have deteriorated over time. In his most recent email he again recognized my arrogance for not “sharing my influence in the woodworking community” but felt the need to be outright hateful this time.

The complexities of flying RC airplanes is great exercise for my brain. I need all of that kind of brain-flexing that I can get!
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My frustrated detractor assured me that Alzheimer's was God’s way of persecuting me for being so selfish and uncaring towards another human being. I have to assume that he is that human being as I doubt his ego allows him to be aware of the remaining mortals. He also issued something between a wish and an order that “I may as well eat sh%t and die now and get it over with.” I know, not very exhilarating nor the first time I have heard this particular “wish” since revealing my having Alzheimer's.

This particularly hateful email did make me think. I really do have a choice in how I am going to approach Alzheimer's and my life. Things look a little different when someone defines the rest of your life albeit with a hopefully large error factor. Before the diagnosis I knew the end was out there somewhere but now I know that “somewhere” isn’t nearly as far out as I thought and that accelerates my perception of the passing of time.

I certainly could sit back and wait but I chose early on to fight back any way I could. One of the more effective ways of fighting has been my return to radio control flying. The intense concentration required to make planes do things they don’t especially want to do is great exercise for the brain. So along with my work on NewWoodworker.com and my other sites I will continue to pursue flying as hard as I can. Right now it is the most enjoyable way I have to flex my mental muscles and they need all the flexing I can manage.
In a way I hope that little group of people continue their campaign of hate as it spurs me on. It makes me more driven to forestall the advance of Alzheimer's which in turn frustrates their wish for my early demise. I think that I will have more fun in my pursuit than they will in theirs and that makes me a little bit happy.

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