The envelope arrived today from the UC Irvine Institute for Brain Aging with the report on the pathology of Mom's brain. Her doctors had encouraged us to participate in a program of full physical and mental testing, followed by donating her brain after death, to assess the accuracy of the diagnosis they had given her and to improve future diagnoses of others.
I trembled to open it.
Dear Ms. Eggebroten,
The neuropathological evaluation of your late mother, Evelyn Eggebroten, has been completed. According to our neuropathologist's observations, the final diagnosis is consistent with ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. I have enclosed a more detailed report.
If you have any questions, or if we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 949-824-5032.
With sincere thanks,
Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia Tissue Repository
The full page report inside says, in part, "Neuritic plaque formation... isch;emic cell change... No Lewy bodies, Pick bodies, or achromasic neurons are observed."
I was stunned. The doctors had been saying that her probable diagnosis was Lewy Body Disease, but there were none of these bodies in her brain. Instead there was the long threads of plaque called Alzheimer's, along with "ischemic cell change," which means cell damage caused by mini-strokes.
She seemed to have so many Lewy Body characteristics... she never lost her ability to speak in full sentences, to recognize her children...
It is a mystery. But this information will be helpful when the next generation--Bill, Jim, Emily and I--reach that stage of life.