Im learning a lot from my seatmates on this trip to meet with Dads doctors. On the puddle-jumper flight from Charlotte to Greenville, I sat next to a cardiovascular surgeon. He had come to North Carolina from Wisconsin to learn how to use the new robot his hospital had bought for heart surgery.
What brings you to Greenville? he asked. I told him I was looking for answers on my Dads dementia, and that his doctors were presenting the results of his autopsy.
Dont expect a lot of answers, he warned me. We just dont know much about the brain.
But I thought you could get a definitive answer about whether someone had Alzheimers by looking for plaques and tangles in the brain during an autopsy.
Well, the problem is that when you do an autopsy, you see the endpoint, but you dont see the process. The endpoint might look the same for a lot of different diseases.
Hmm, so maybe Dads autopsy would show plaques and atrophy whether he had Alzheimers Disease, vascular disease, or something else?
Yes, possibly, but Im not a neurologist. I got the feeling he was happy to be working on hearts rather than brains.