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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Terry Pratchett has Altzheimer's but still his imagination is vivid

Last year the bestselling author of the Discworld fantasies was finally diagnosed with Altzheimer's: Terry Pratchett, 59, was convinced something was wrong, but it was not until December 2007 that it was confirmed that he has a form of the disease, Posterior Cortical Atrophy, or PCA.

Assured by medics that he did not have any form of mental degeneration, Pratchett remained convinced that all was not well.

"We had what I called a Clapham Junction day, when you know the phones were ringing. There were lots of things to do and I was just kind of flat-lining almost. I just couldn't deal with it and I thought there's more, there's more."

Because of his panic, he was referred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where the diagnosis was finally made.

While the most common form of Altzheimer's is loss of memory, PCA affects vision and motor skills. Though his imagination is as fertile as ever, it has had a disastrous effect on his typing. Formerly a touch-typist, Pratchett now has to hunt and peck, "and there will be a moment sometimes when the letter A just totally vanishes and I don't quite know what happens.

"It's as if the keyboard closes up and the letter A is not there any more." He blinks a few times, and the letter magically reappears.

The prospect of the day when the letters vanish for ever must be bleakly depressing. Pratchett's many thousands of fans are hoping and praying that that day never happens.

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