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SW: Feature Report Channel
Reported May 2, 2012

I'm Not Crazy! Alzheimer's Or Something Else

LOS ANGELES (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- What if you were told you had Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but in reality it was something else, something treatable? We’ll tell you about one woman’s journey from losing her mind to getting it back again.

You’re told you are losing your mind and you’ll never get it back again.

"I couldn’t believe it," Marie Hornstein, a woman who was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s told Ivanhoe.

That’s exactly what happened to Marie. After surviving the Auschwitz death camp, and losing most of his family in the Holocaust, Marie’s husband couldn’t imagine living life without his beloved wife.

"I was a lost soul after the war. There was something missing in my life," Jerry Hornstein told Ivanhoe.

That something was love. He met Marie, married and 54 years later the life they built together was threatened.

"Even now when they tell me how I was I can’t believe it," Marie said,

Doctors diagnosed Marie with Alzheimer’s disease, but she had NPH or normal pressure hydrocephalus. The condition causes a build-up of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Some experts believe as many as 400,000 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but really are suffering from NPH. The difference is that NPH is curable.

One of the most common symptoms of NPH is short-term memory loss, not unlike Alzheimer’s or dementia. Another symptom is incontinence, but some say they can recognize the main difference by how the person walks. NPH patients shuffle their feet, while Alzheimer’s do not. Once properly diagnosed, a shunt was placed in Marie’s skull to help drain the fluid. That’s when things started to turn around.

"There are other patients we’ve taken from unable to get out of bed, to 15 years later, completely independent," Dr. Marvin Bergsneider a Professor of neurosurgery, UCLA told Ivanhoe.

Now walking on her own, Marie doesn’t remember anything about her time with NPH. Only that her husband did all he could to make sure she got better.

"He’ll fight for me and he’ll do for me," Marie concluded.

What causes NPH? Normal pressure hydrocephalus is when there is too much fluid in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the brain every day and the bloodstream absorbs the same amount of fluid. When an imbalance occurs, pressure builds up and the symptoms worsen.

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