Mike and Carmen Henle

The Mad Dog Blog/by Mike Henle

Date: Jan. 17, 2021

While walking down Fremont Street during the Mint 400 race week events in downtown Las Vegas in March of 2020, my wife noticed that I couldn’t find my car. I really didn’t think much of the situation for many reasons; thinking that my age at the time I was 69. I can forget things. I’m getting older.

We all make fun of ourselves when we start aging, so you know the routine ranging from being clumsy to simply making fun of one another.

However, my wife, Carmen of almost 49 years wasn’t taking this particular incident lightly. Something told her that this was no joke and the next thing I knew I was in the office of a neurologist for an EEG, MRI, MRA and other tests. After receiving those test results, a follow up visit with a neuropsychologist was ordered and I was in the middle of a memory test used to measure various neurological aspects.

Surely, this had to be a mistake, considering I stay very active.

Several hours later, I was somewhat peeved with the final results of the test that indicated that I was in the midst of health issue related to the brain.

Mild Cognitive Impairment was suspected. I also didn’t want to accept the diagnosis, so we decided to go to the Cleveland Clinic, Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health for a second opinion. And yes, after a PET scan the diagnosis was correct.

My brain issues began when I was a nine-month-old infant, I was rushed to a Woodland, California hospital where I was hospitalized and remained in a coma for a week.

I was released from the hospital and sent home with my mom and dad. According to doctors, I was fine, as far as my parents knew.

The coma was related to a mosquito that carried the encephalitis virus and infected me at my grandparents’ home in Woodland, Calif. As soon as local officials learned about the mosquitoes, a short news article was run in the Woodland Democrat to make others aware of the situation.

Everything seemed to be going well when we all moved to North Las Vegas seeking a new life. Everything was fine until I started have dizzy spells and a local doctor said I had petit mall epilepsy.

In Dec. 6, 1994, I underwent brain surgery to remove the damaged brain matter so that my brain could heal and the seizures could be eliminated.

The surgery was conducted at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California in what was termed the perfect procedure. It was called a right temporal lobectomy.

When I was escorted to my bed on the gurney, Dr. Waltz apologized for the time it took to complete the surgery, which actually took as much as 30 percent of the right temporal lobe and eliminated my seizures. For several years, all was fine until it was determined that I would be challenged by news that the epilepsy surgery was still reacting well although new areas of the brain were suffering.

Here we go again. I had thought many years ago that I was done with the surgery and went home seizure free, only to hear now that I again had a new challenge dealing with Early Stage Alzheimer’s disease.

So, you all ask me what going to do now?

I’m going to get strong, and I’m not going to give up. In the words of Dr. Aaron Ritter at Cleveland Clinic, we don’t know how to give up.

Ritter told me earlier that I stood a chance in this battle, as long as I was aggressive and refused to give up in yet another battle, this time at the age of 70. He also said the most important thing I could do is to continue writing. Writing helps the memory and exercise the brain.

Medication is important as is support from family and friends is more important.

I’ll continue writing and giving updates on my journey and progress.

I don’t give up. Giving up is not in my character.

News at 11 will be watching.

NEXT UP: How do we deal with memory loss?

13 Responses

  1. You have the wise, caring, and tough as nails Carmen, so 3/4 of the battle is won.
    The other 1/4 is you, so we know who is winning that battle.
    Stay safe, enjoy life, and keep the pen handy!

  2. Mike you have been thru so much in life and have maintained a positive attitude. Having your wife and family by your side is truly a gift.

    1. Hi Fran, and thanks very much for your comments. In my opinion, I really think that considering that many of us are old auto racing fans — and with the Cleveland Clinic now in Las Vegas — we have now stepped up to the Top Fuel of the the medical profession. Las Vegas has a new set the standard right here in Las Vegas and thanks to that, we can proceed with our lives without worrying about the wheels falling off at mid range.

  3. John & Becky had shared your story with my family. I like reading it from your perspective. In life we face many peaks and valleys. Along those travels can also come with challenges. Those challenges make us who we are as people and give us a story. I can’t imagine anyone with the nickname of “mad dog” not to be a fighter. I will be rooting for you and can’t wait to hear more of your story. Xo Meg

    1. Thanks so much, Megan! The nickname came from R-J Desk Man, Tom Brown, who gave me the nickname because I never gave up, no matter what the challenge or who the individuals. I would run through the R-J looking for an desk man editor when Tom would yell out “Here Comes Mad Dog Henle! Go Get Em,!” Tom was a real character back in the 1970s
      so I placed the name “Mad Dog” Henle!” on my business cards. People seem to love the history of the name “Mad Dog Henle!”. In fact, I interviewed with someone other day, and he called it a very cool marketing tool, too.” My company — “The Idea Company” fits in very well.

  4. Mike:

    Will be praying for you and your wife about the near and distant future, that all of this moves slowly. I agree that your excellent writing will continue to help you with your battle. My wife (of 55 years) and I will pray daily for both of you. God bless you.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments, Dave. I’m told that things should be OK, as long as I stay busy. With that in mind, I’m at the gym working no lesser than 3 times every week, so I’m giving the devil a run for his money, too. What I really appreciate about this is that Las Vegas now has the First-Class medical in the Cleveland Clinic people, so there is some very respected people working every day to help the the rest of us. I vividly remember the old days when people would head for the hills in Las Vegas simply trying to survive the medical profession in Las Vegas. However, with the arrival of the Cleveland Clinic, we have all been blessed with some of the best medical experts in the world, and now there is simply no reason to chase the profession all over the world, simply because the people of the Cleveland Clinic are now in Las Vegas and a short distance from wherever help is needed. I know that I personally appreciate the changes here now, we have been in La Vegas since the 1960s.It was a long-time coming, but each and every one now now needn’t worry because the best is here now and we can all sleep at night.

  5. Thinking of you Mike. Power of Prayer is amazing. You are a fighter and survivor. There is nothing stronger than the human will.

    1. You’re so right, David. We can’t ever give up these challenges, so I’m confident that help is on the way. I have been battling one illness after another for decades, and I simply won’t give up the battle dating back to when I was diagnosed with Sleeping Sickness when I was only 9 months old (which led to the Encephalitis). The memory issue is especially important simply because there are so many of us that can be affected; and it hits so quickly. I was stunned when I got the information and it’s so good to see so many others all fighting the cause.

  6. Mike you are an inspiration to me and many others. Who thought any of us would still be alive in 2021. Long way from Rancho High and teachers locking us behind steel doors so we wouldn’t be injured or killed by our fellow students. Riding in race cars so fast that occasionally we would be upside down and on fire. If I can do anything for you or my childhood neighbor and friend Carmen, please let me know. Dougie you know

  7. Hello Mike Alan & I are with you all the way! My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer disease almost 10 years ago at the age of 75. She had also had some brain seizure events at age 50-54. They stopped by 55yrs. but she suffered short term memory loss and lived an independent life by using a day planner everyday for the next 25 years. She has lived in an assisted living for the last 8+ years after the Cleveland Clinic diagnosis of Alzheimer disease. She is 85 now and still knows Alan & I. She can function independently in her little apartment but now has more time issues, (day, month, year) because of the Covid lockdown that was mandated by Heritage Springs Assisted Living for the past 10 months.
    Cleveland Clinic is a wonderful place! Mother has been taking Galantimine & Namenda since her diagnosis. I often wonder if these meds have extended her functions to live independently and not be in memory care.
    We love you Mike and will pray for your success in dealing with your diagnosis. You have the best caregiver/advocate in Carmen, plus she is a wonderful chef! I look forward to your updates.
    Beverly and Alan La Rocque ❤️🙏🏻

  8. I’m so glad you are sharing your journey Mike❤️ I worked at Walgreens for 15 years and throughout that time people would unload there fears and concerns about their loved one or friends. I know this is a tough diagnosis and I also know you and Carmen are fighters ‼️ My prayers are with you and Carmen and the rest of your family ❤️Much love, Mary Fox

    1. Thanks so much for this, Mary. I was absolutely stunned when I received the word simply because I had so many other health challenges over the years. I’d get one notice, and I’d get hit with another issue. The memory challenge is yet another issue, and it’s simply so mind-boggling. I’m told that help is on the way, (thank God).