My Name is Mario
My Name is Mario (Story and photos by Giovanni Mereghetti)
My name is Mario and I have Alzheimer's.
What time is it? Where we are? This evening I ate pasta, salami, two steaks, an apple, a tangerine and an orange.
Maybe I'm in a hospital. Indeed, I'm in a hospital. I'm not wrong. There are high ceilings, but the sky cannot be seen. My nephew caresses my hand and makes me cuddly. It's nice, it relaxes me. I cannot sleep, my mind wanders in memories. What time is it? Who's in that bed? Let's go home.
My name is Mario, since I was a young man I was a trader in skins. Can you show me your shoes? Fine, they are Clarks. If you are comfortable you are fine and you have no problems. Are they comfortable? Who's in that bed? What time is it? How long does it take to go home?
My hand hurts. The nurses have put a needle with the tap where several times a day they insert the drip liquid. They are caring for me. Maybe. I'm thinking of dying. But if I turn to the left there is the window and I see the street over the hospital wall. I have to fight, it's worth it. Outside is the life that awaits me.
Today, my friend Paolo was supposed to come, but I did not see him. Why did not he come? There is an unreal silence in the corridors of the medical department right now. The nurses are having their dinner. But then, after they finish, chaos will break out as it does every night. They will play ball in the corridors and you will not be able to sleep.
What time is it? Who's in that bed? How long does it take to go home? How old are you? In my opinion, you look about thirty-two. Go home now, you have a tired face. You have to go to school tomorrow. I'm not tired. I want to sleep but I can not. What day is today? It's Christmas Eve. One day like another. Let's go home?
They have given me another bottle of transparent liquid, a drip. I do not have glasses, but I can read the caps that describe the content: NaCl. The weather in this room from the sky blue walls never passes. A drop drops every second. I spend time counting drops: two, three, four, five ... every sixty drops go one minute. For one hour, it takes three hundred and sixty drops. They say these drops will make me heal. It's not true. Every drop only marks the pace of time. Just like the clock hands. It's as if every drop that falls into the barrel of the doser, under the transparent rubber tube, takes away a bit of the time I have to live. My time is related to a fluid entering my veins. A kind of magic potion that extends life. But not an elixir for a better life.
What time is it? Who's in that bed? How long does it take to go home? I've heard that this disease does not go away. I was told that Alzheimer's is a disabling and degenerative dementia affecting older people over the age of 65. Not everyone though.
To date, there is no valid therapy, and the emotional impact that falls on people close to the sick makes it one of the most serious social impacts. Moreover, for how our society is structured, there is no room for those who can no longer "give". Yet when I was young I always made my contribution. I feel like an old locomotive, as I have also lost strength to snore. I'm letting go to my fate, helpless, without seeing the future after the next sunset.
The time that has erased unmistakable empires and past history is now destroying my cells. I do not know how many more I still have. I wonder that at least one still works. But what do I think?
What time is it? Is the war over? If the average age of Alzheimer’s patients continues, there will be more and more patients in the years ahead. Approximately 700 billion dollars are spent worldwide to cure us. A statistical estimate, according to Lancet, says that in 2030 the disease could increase by 85%, making this disease a serious economic burden worldwide. Despite this, scientific research on dementia is seriously under-funded. At present, there are no drugs or psychosocial interventions that heal or stop the disease. The treatment of Alzheimer's is still in its infancy. Yet it was in 1901 when the German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, while interviewing a patient, discovered this disease.
They say that the pills they give me improve the quality of my life and slow down the course of the initial and intermediate stages of the disease. But what's in these tablets? Why is the sky no longer blue? Why do I hear voices distant and out of tune? Why did the fog come into my house? Why do I hear the world burst? My heart beats fast. Even my breathing is faster. Where are my loved ones?
My name is Mario.