We’re off and running again, and facing yet another challenge

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?

8 comments on “We’re off and running again, and facing yet another challenge”

  1. Mike Alsup

    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. Fran Nelson

    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.

  3. Megan Toole-Hall

    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

  4. Dave Osborn

    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.

  5. David Grant

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

  6. Terry Davis

    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. Beverly La Rocque

    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. Mary Fox

    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

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