Sunday, April 8, 2012

DEEP BLUE SEA: What is Alzheimer's disease?

Deep Blue Sea: the shark's not quite that big.
I have wanted to blog about this film for a long time. Finally I will get this mother of a medical conundrum off my To Do list! Unfortunately most of the events in this film that make me love it have nothing to do with medicine or body sciences. Although, there is a particularly hilarious laugh-out-loud reference to hemorrhaging that will be discussed in a later post. And sure, when Russell Franklin (Samuel L. Jackson) gets chomped we could say the moment is about the body, but you know what I mean.   

What has driven our mad scientist Dr. Susan McCallister (Saffron Burrows) to create a bunch of shark monsters? One of the Four Spectres Of Old Age(1) - Alzheimer's Disease - that's what!

"We are this close to the reactivation of the human brain cell!"
Her father may have had Alzheimer's but Dr. McCallister is CRAZY!

WHAT A B----!
Dr. McCallister has secretly genetically engineered a race of intelligent super-sharks all for love of her father. Here's what she says to Russell Franklin:

"Have you ever known anyone with Alzheimer's?...By the end all (my father) could do was ask why my mother wasn't home. And each time I told him she was dead I had to watch him take that loss like a car wreck!"

This doctor dragged her father through emotional upheaval again and again because he suffered from an organic brain disease. What a nasty thing to do to someone! Advanced Alzheimer's patients have profound memory loss and its likely that her father forgot his grief after each re-experience of it, but c'mon! My father has advanced dementia and my mother is dead and there's NO WAY I'm going to wrench my dad's heart out on a regular schedule. That's just mean! 

Janice Higgins (Jaqueline McKenzie) tells us that sharks never
experience loss of mental function with advanced age.
Is that true? How old does a shark get, anyway?

Oh, yeah... Alzheimer's disease! What is it? Alzheimer's is a degenerative progressive brain disease causing dementia, and emotional and behavioral changes. The disease usually appears in older persons (65 and up) but there is a small percentage of people who develop the disease earlier in life. At this point there is no cure for it, but there are treatments to lessen symptoms to some degree. There are also things a patient and their friends and family can do to cope with the progressive loss of function that occurs. I speak from experience here, not just from reading the Merck Manual. If you have experience with Alzheimer's you know it's a B----!

I say this from experience too - you don't break your father's heart every time he asks about your dead mother and you don't go breeding a bunch of man-eating-super-sharks because you're feeling guilty about your father's disease!

How does Alzheimer's effect the brain (of humans, not sharks)? How can we use monster sharks to cure this disease? Stay tuned...

1. I made up that "Four Spectres Of Old Age" phrase, but I imagine them to be cancer, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease.


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