A CDS Special: Alzheimer’s patient ‘has heard of Jeremy Lin’

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Health Correspondent

CHARLOTTE (China Daily Show) – A woman in the terminal stages of Alzheimer’s disease has surprised doctors with a newfound enthusiasm for NBA player Jeremy Lin.

Sarah Mae Wilson, 69, had long been considered a lost cause at the Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) in Charlotte, and her family had been making preparations to transfer her into full-time care.

But that was until last Tuesday night. According to eyewitnesses in the CMC community room, the New York Knicks’ Lin had just made a three-point jump shot to give his team a 90-87 win over the Toronto Raptors when a normally sedate Ms. Wilson unexpectedly reacted with a series of expletive-filled remarks.

Since then, Ms Wilson’s intimate knowledge of the Asian-American point guard has shattered almost everything the medical community believes it knew about a disease that claims nearly 30 million sufferers worldwide.

“In her condition, there’s no expectation of even basic motor skills, much less the cognitive plasticity to take a word like ‘winning’ and combine it with the surname ‘Lin’ to form the neologism ‘Linning,’” explained Dr Frank Jeffries, head of the geriatrics ward at CMC.

Indeed, perhaps even more inexplicable than Ms. Wilson’s recovery is her enthusiastic embrace of the bizarre phenomenon known as “Lin-guistics” – the relentless quest for puns on Jeremy Lin’s name.

“Super Lintendo – she claims to have coined that one,” said duty nurse Elizabeth Madison, who has been looking after Ms. Wilson the last four years. “Her newborn enthusiasm and love of wordplay is both incredibly inspiring and highly irritating.”

Ms Wilson’s improvement has reportedly been as rapid, and just as dramatic, as Lin’s own rise to superstardom. The morning after the Raptors game, she reportedly asked a nurse to open a “lindow,” and at lunch that day asked fellow diners to pass the “condlinments.”

“That one maybe wasn’t so good,” Madison said. “But to give her  credit, when Sarah saw me struggling with another patient yesterday, she called out, ‘Betty, don’t be so goddam Linient! Just shove those pills down her throat.’ I laughed so hard I nearly dropped my armlock.”

There’s even evidence to suggest Ms. Wilson may not be alone in having suddenly heard of Jeremy Lin. Professor Karl Snieder, a longtime Alzheimer’s researcher, says he learned about the curious case of Sarah Mae Wilson last Thursday. Failing to find any medical literature to explain her revival, he visited other patients he knew to be New York basketball fans.

Sure enough, some had also shown marked improvements.

“Lin’s dunk against the Washington Wizards last week has prompted a remarkable response from several otherwise senile Knicks fans,” Professor Snieder told China Daily Show.

He cited Anthony Scagnetti, 82, an Alzheimer’s sufferer for 15 years. “The doctors were ready to pull the plug on him – the last rites had been administered by the family priest – when he suddenly asked them to ‘turn up the damned TV.’”

Apparently Lin’s dunk had made Scagnetti remember a $50 bet he had on the game.

Medical professionals in San Francisco, Chicago and St. Louis have also reported improvements in patients, all with late-stage Alzheimer’s and almost all of them white.

“It’s as if Jeremy Lin has awaken something primal, something primitive in the human brain,” Snieder said. “What these cases demonstrate is that the medical community, despite billions spent on research, really knows very little about the way the mind works. If a sport can rescue lost souls and allow them to wallow in infantilism, injecting them with purpose, what can’t be accomplished?

“‘Linpossible is nothing,’ if you will.”

It remains to be seen whether these improvements have staying power. So far the evidence is mixed. Ms. Wilson, for example, remains unable to recall the names or recognize the faces of anyone in her immediate family.

Worse still, a day after the Knicks lost to the New Orleans Hornets, Ms. Wilson told fellow residents they “can’t Lin ‘em all.”  Doctors say they didn’t have the heart to tell her the phrase was utterly devoid of originality, having been used twice that morning in an Associated Press lede.

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