Local columnist who previously wrote for the local corporate team on poverty, race and people with disabilities.
Andres Martin, a 31 -year-old navy, is treated at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a rare form…
Andres Martin lay on the couch in his native Maryland, surrounded by his family when he began to talk about how people see Alzheimer’s.
They think about 70-year-olds and 80-year-olds, he said. They think of people who have already lived their entire lives. People who have already had children and maybe grandchildren.
“It’s not what it is,” Martin said.
“This,” he said, stating his little daughter-in-law, who had previously blown kisses, “is Alzheimer’s here.”
Not yet 2 years old, she looked at him and smiled and did not know he was talking about his deepest fear of her.
“Weeeee!” She said she was on a ride.
Martin’s daughter, Alexis, has not been tested yet to see if she is wearing a gene that makes it likely that she will get the progressive brain. But the 31-year-old dad has reason to fear the worst: he has it. His father had it. And his daughter has a 50 percent chance of developing it.
“I’m doing it to my personal struggle, my personal mission to find a cure for Alexis,” Martin said. “Before I leave this world, Alexis will be in a good place.”
“Everything, he says” is for Alexis. “
More knowledge generally means fewer unknowns. It’s not true to the Martin family. For them, the answers have been more questions.
Last year, Martin was a pilot for Marine Corps, stationed in Hawaii, where his sister sent an article and suddenly changed his life. He stopped flying helicopters. eventually to Maryland to be closer to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. And he took a new mission: to give awareness to Alzheimer’s.
This article was about the “Jalisco mutation”, a genetic mutation that affects people with roots in the region of Mexico and has been linked to Alzheimer’s beginning. When Martin read, he finally understood His father, in the 40’s, began to forget things to the point that he had to quit his job as a welders and no longer drive known stretches without being confused. He finally understood why his father had died at the age of 51.
Shortly after reading the article, Martin decided to be tested for the gene. In September 2017, he and his wife Amanda met a doctor to hear the results.
She was optimistic. He confirmed for the worst.
The test confirmed their fear and let them wonder about her daughter, who is not tested until she is 18.
“It was the least for us,” said Amanda Martin. “Just knowing that it’s possible for my husband and daughter to get really sick is difficult. Ten years from now or five years from now, how will our life change? Will he get completely sick? It’s possible. years from now it will be he is not here and we are told she has it? “
It has also raised questions for Martine’s two sisters, who can also bear the gene. His sister, Elizabeth Martin, is a 24-year-old police in California. She is not married and has no children, but if she has the mutation, she said she must consider whether her future will include a family.
“I’m not afraid it’s yes,” she said about her test results. “I’m afraid of the decisions I’ll have to make after that.”
The Martin family wanted to share their history because they believe in their best chance of combating the disease – and preferably finding a cure before Alexis is an adult – will come through consciousness. They believe that in order for science to get there, more people – and especially Latinos – must start participating in clinical studies.
Martin has created a Facebook group for people to discuss the Alzheimer’s and Jalisco genes that begin to begin. Earlier this year he also helped organize a conference that led US-based Alzheimer’s experts to Mexico to discuss the disease.
It was the first time some people realized what they and their relatives died from, he said.
“It is such an undermined health disorder among Latin America,” said Jason Resendez, CEO of Latinos Against Alzheimer’s. “We have really made great efforts to deal with things like heart disease and diabetes. Alzheimer’s just is not in the same conversation.”
Latinos in the United States are 50 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-Latin wits, yet they are underrepresented in clinical trials, he said.
“Mexican Americans present symptoms seven years earlier than other ethnic groups,” said Resendez. “Why is it?” We do not have big answers to these questions than because of the lack of focus on understanding Alzheimer’s risks among different ethnicities. “
Martin has participated in a clinical trial. He was also part of a clinical study at the University of Southern California, where John Ringman is an Alzheimer’s researcher and expert on the Jalisco mutation.
Ringman said his team has identified about 70 different families so far who have the mutation. Among them was the youngest who experienced symptom 33 and the oldest was 54. More commonly, he said, is that symptoms occur when people are in the 40’s.
According to his father’s experience, Martin considers that he has 10 years before his family notices changes in him.
In an effort to extend that timeline and keep his brain healthier further, he has begun to undergo a common transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment at Walter Reed, learning French and playing games through apps that help stimulate mental activity.
He also tries to not think of what he can not control. His wife said she had asked him how he knew about the future and if he was afraid of death, but he tells him not to worry about it.
“I already have something trying to kill me,” he explained. “Why help it?” If I’m depressed, I’ll help it. If I’m not sleeping, I’ll help. “
He would rather, he said, focus on what he can do.
What he can do is let people know that a little girl with red hair who loves to make ballerina twirls and can count on three in English and Spanish could one day, without cure or a way to slow down the disease progression, be lost against Alzheimer’s.
What he can do is pick her up, put her arms in her arms as she giggles and feel grateful that he is still healthy at the moment to enjoy that moment.