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Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  70 reviews
When Tom DeBaggio turned fifty-seven in 1999, he thought he was about to embark on the relaxing golden years of retirement -- time to spend with his family, his friends, the herb garden he had spent decades cultivating and from which he made a living. Then, one winter day, he mentioned to his doctor during a routine exam that he had been stumbling into forgetfulness, makin ...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published March 5th 2002 by Free Press (first published March 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Petra-X Off having adventures
Thomas DeBaggio was the son of hard-working Italian immigrants. He was a devotee of Holden Caulfield's hobby of spotting fake people which tied in nicely with his job - a muck-raking journalist. Later he married an artist and the pair of the became real children of the 60s anti-Vietnam movement before finally settling on being a commercial herb nurseryman and publishing several acclaimed books on herb farming. (view spoiler) ...more
Trish
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book a couple years ago after learning my mom had Alzheimer's and seeing an interview with DeBaggio's wife on the Today show. I read a little into it and was soooo confused that I put it down and didn't pick it up again until this summer. My mom's Alzheimer's has progressed into Stage 5/6 and I'm learning more about the disease and understanding whats happening to her. I started the book from the beginning again and now completely understand DeBaggio's frame of mind!!! The confusion o ...more
Jafar
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the upper-middle and higher classes of modern wealthy countries where war and poverty and hunger are only seen on TV happening to others, and the sick and the elderly are pushed out of sight, and a long healthy life is considered a birthright, the reaction to death or the news of a terminal illness is not just fear and sadness; it’s also anger, bewilderment, self-pity, and a feeling that one has been wronged. There’s a fantasy and illusion that death itself is almost a lifestyle choice. All ...more
Jim
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is now the fourth book in a row I’ve read about Alzheimer’s and the first by an actual sufferer; the novel I read was written from the perspective of a sufferer but the author didn’t have the disease and so it was a more polished and structured book than this although not a bad book and clearly well-researched. This book is the real deal and a much harder read. It’s not a hard read in the sense of it being an upsetting book; it focuses on his experiences whilst in the early stages of the di ...more
Karyl
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
My grandfather was diagnosed with dementia in his 80s. Even though he had lived a long, full life, it was still devastating to him and to our family. A dapper and intelligent man with a PhD who had taught history at a private university, he was definitely not himself by the time he passed away. As a bookworm myself, the saddest part for me when my mom told me that he could no longer read a book because he couldn't remember the top of the page by the time he reached the end of it. I was spared mo ...more
Kate
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Thomas DeBaggio's Losing My Mind is written by a man with Alzheimer's. It's a fascinating, devastating book.

I listened online to a few of his NPR interviews as well. He wants to take the taboo out of the disease. He wants people with the disease to state out loud that they have it and to tell people what it's like. He thinks this will help propel a cure.

Amazingly enough, he wrote a second book after this one, which I have on order. I learned that now, however, he no longer reads or writes. He
...more
Tee Minn
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a tough book to read initially because the author has Alzheimer's and the flow is from his perspective. After I got a sense of his confusion, I appreciated his struggle more and the pain is then stronger. What passion he had to explain his loss. He repeats how sad he is that his wife is now saddled with his loss, and you know how that is heavy on his mind. It is interesting to see how the long term memories fade slowly, but visual and language skills -the short term memories - are the b ...more
Terry Perrel
Jul 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir that starts with the testing of a 57-year-old man's for Early Onset Alzheimer's and how the diagnosis changes his thinking/perceptions and the lives of those he loves the most. Also, distinguishes between normal aging of the brain versus disease and considers genetics/undiagnosed ancestors in the role of early onset.
The book is a combination of research abstracts, memoir, brief passages of stream of consciousness, and reflection.
Ten years after the diagnosis, the author, who often appea
...more
Kathy
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kathy-s-shelf
The author can write so beautifully
'Dear Joyce, When you can't hear my voice anymore, will you be able to feel my love?'
so heartbreakingly
'Once in a while I hear the wind whistling through my brain'
such perspicacity
'There are still a lot of children dressed as adults in politics'
But there are times when I could not follow his line of thought. I don't know if it was I or if (as he said) it was him writing the way his brain was working.
...more
Pam
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a courageous first person account of living with Alzheimer’s. It is a glimpse inside the head and heart of someone living with the disease. It is a gift to the rest of us that Thomas DiBaggio is a writer and so writing was his way of processing his experience after the diagnosis.
This may be a difficult read for some but it is very powerful.
Sharon
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First hand account of what it fees like to have Alzheimer's, told by a writer who developed early-onset Alzheimer's dementia at the age of 58. Interspersed with citations of new treatments being explored. ...more
Kate Gutes
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great use of structure to try and emulate how a mind falling apart would look.
Kate
Seemed self-involved even before the illness. Just couldn’t relate to him and the value to the public he so earnestly attributed to his writing of this book.
Ben Griffiths
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insight into the mind of an Alzheimer’s sufferer.
Keeley
Absolutely fantastic. One of the most moving personal accounts of dementia I've ever read. ...more
HR-ML
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Thomas was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's at age
57 and lived to age 78. I made it to pg 142 of of 207 pages
(hardback edition). It was too sad to continue. I may go
back eventually.

Thomas worked as a journalist & wrote short stories and
poems. He & his wife became: commercial herb growers.
in their greenhouse. They had 1200+ (mail-order)
customers. He wrote several books on herbs.

Thomas shared his Alzheimer's diagnosis, his reaction
and that of his wife and grown son. He recounted memor
...more
Erin
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-illness
Disjoined, like the disease. Well crafted. Tragic. Compelling.
Ashley
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You must be able to appreciate, or at least tolerate, slightly tangential prose influenced by associative thinking to get through this. But hey, associative thinking and making new connections between seemingly disparate things is the hallmark of creativity (the latest buzz in pop-psych as if it hasn’t been appreciated for centuries…) but anyway, not to mimic DeBaggio’s digressive writing… as mentioned elsewhere, it encompasses three pieces: his memories of his childhood and young adult life, hi ...more
Annabelle
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book, written in the first-person by a 57 year-old man diagnosed with “early stage Alzheimer’s dementia,” was a fascinating, terrifying and sad read. DeBaggio, once a freelance journalist, is an excellent and poetic writer; he writes in an almost sporadic style, flashing between descriptions his present situation, his feelings, clinical information and statistics about Alzheimer’s and memories from his past. These rapid movements between each of these categories really help the reader to ge ...more
Kathy Leland
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Given the subject, I can't really claim that I "really liked" this book, but I found it insightful and sadly instructive. Don't read it if you find yourself prone to depression though. I was grateful for the writer's brutal honesty about this truly hellish disease, an affliction that will always ultimately be impervious to hope or "thinking positive." Yet writing this book helped him come to terms in exactly the way a writer always processes life, by writing it all down, and he does that with gr ...more
Sharon Fawcett
I thought this was a valuable book and I am grateful Thomas DeBaggio dedicated so many months to writing it, in order to give readers rare insight into the thoughts of someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I was saddened, however, at the number of times DeBaggio referred to the disease in ways that depicted it a beast slowly eating him alive. I don't think he saw it as anything other than that.

Another reviewer stated she felt DeBaggio might have benefitted from counselling in those e
...more
Slyv
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The beginning indicated a really good read -- a compilation of memories, medical theory, and personal realizations. Then I got bogged down in the memories, so I started to read only the day-to-day fearful thoughts and science (but it's from 1999). I wanted to know how it feels to be losing your mind, and I found out. It's depressing. What I did learn is that there is some connection between Alzheimer's and the ApoE gene, so I looked that up, and the 4 variants are good and bad. Hm. Maybe I shoul ...more
Jean
It's not the most stylishly or beautifully written book; but its Alzheimer's focus, honesty, and methodical pace add up to a very good book. This memoir came out in 2002. After I finished it, I had to search the internet for "what happened to Thomas DeBaggio". It was sad to see he had died of his disease at age 69, just 9 years after finishing the book. So many times reading the book I had found myself hoping that somehow there had been a mistake in his early onset diagnosis, for though he goes ...more
Tonia
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book and even cried a few times. I have seen several people suffer from Alzheimer's disease but this book was written from a point of view that I cannot fully understand and one I hope I never will have to.

There was a few sections of the book were the paragraphs were almost exact copies such as on pages 48 and 138. I do not know if this is intentional as a reflection of what AD can do to a person or if Mr. DeBaggio really just had the exact same thought twice while writing
...more
Annalisa
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DeBaggio describes, as best he can, what Alzheimer's is like from the inside. He creates an interesting structure, interweaving four kinds of writing: 1. descriptions of his current life with Alzheimer's, 2. memories of his life; 3. extracts from research on Alzheimer's 4. single sentence attempts to express the heart of what he is losing.

The combination makes a delicate balance possible--a continuous description of his struggle with Alzheimer's would be unbearable. The research documents, while
...more
Beth
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to be fair, so I upped my rating on this book from 3 to 4 stars. It was not profound, and did not necessarily inform me of anything I didn't know or at least suspect. But it WAS written in a way that I enjoyed, with the snippets of his earlier life along with his current life. I questioned how the author could right so clearly with the memory loss he was in the midst of, but I guess that was something I just wasn't aware. I was hoping to not be left with gloom and doom, and as it was writ ...more
Annette
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a facinating book, especially when one realizes it was written by the person who was losing his mind. I am very drawn to books about neurological disorders and this one makes the first hand experience very understanable.

This first-person account of Alzheimer's ties several powerful stories together. Losing My Mind blends personal history with the fear and pain of developing the disease at the age of 57; it is both a sadly fascinating account of Alzheimer's progression and an attempt for
...more
Shannon Smith
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This man has a way with words. One of the most well written books I have ever read. He is a poet, just beautiful. My heart thoroughly ached through this book. His insight on what happens to a person with Alzheimer is amazing, like your actually in his head. I felt like I knew him to the point that I looked up online if he had passed away. When I learned that he did ,almost 2 years ago now, I was surprised at myself to feel a genuine loss and sadness like I had lost a friend. A wonderful, sad, en ...more
Leslie

Thomas DeBaggio, an author and herb farmer, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers and chronicles his own demise in LOSING MY MIND. When he is informed by his neurologist that he has early onset Alzheimers, DeBaggio vows to maintain a diary as long as he is able.It started with little things--like not being able to find the keys. It then progressed to not being able to recall his phone number and address. And, then, not being able to find his way home. His memory jumped between his childhood
...more
Joyce
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating memoir written by a man afflicted with Alzheimer's and discussing how he manages to live. While I would have thought that the fear of memory loss would predominate, in DeBaggio's case he ruminates repeatedly over the prospect of his death knowing that the prognosis after diagnosis is a matter of a few years. I read this as an accompaniment to Still Alice, an excellent fictional account of a woman going through the same process, and the two worked perfectly together. ...more
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