A few years ago, John Searle thought his life as he knew it was over.
His body had slowly stopped working. He had trouble walking, he was falling down, he had bad short-term memory and, at 69, he was incontinent.
It was a pattern of decline the retired Canadian engineer from Brantford, Ontario was all too familiar with. His own sister had died of Alzheimer’s in her 50s. His father had died of dementia in his early 80s. So he began to start planning for a future he would not be able to participate in.
“You kind of wonder where you’re going. You start thinking, is this it?” he says.
Doctors could not give him a definitive diagnosis, which only infuriated the retired engineer more. Parkinson’s treatment had no effect, he didn’t have Alzheimer’s but something was clearly not right. By 2018, he needed a wheelchair to go outside, and a walking frame inside his own home.
“There was no hope, I was sitting in the window watching life go by.”
“He was angry – he was beyond angry,” his wife Barbara chimes in. “There were nights when I was laying in bed thinking maybe I’ll have to sell the house… because I had to do everything.”
But that changed when he met Dr Alfonso Fasano, a neurologist at the Movement Disorders Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital, who diagnosed him with a condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus, or NPH.