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Angels in Arms

Greg O’Brien is living with early onset Alzheimer’s. He recently spoke at a provider conference, and recounted the story of his travel home…

I just returned from Scottsdale with Mary Catherine and Conor, from speaking to about 350 medical professionals. MC and Conor on stage afterwards for the Q&A, a moving moment.

FYI (wrote this down so I wouldn’t forget): I had another Larry David moment in Scottsdale heading to the airport Sunday with Mary Catherine and Conor. The “Warden” (aka Mary Catherine) let out too much rope, and asked me to call an Uber to the hotel to take us to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. So I punched in the specifics, noting we were going to Scottsdale Airport, a small plane, community airport…Wrong punch!

Then an Uber shows up at the hotel and asks me if I was the “Slivinsky” party. In my out-of-body confusion, I said I was. So I yelled over to MC and Conor to pile in the car for the ride to Scottsdale Airport; I’m in front seat, MC and Conor in the back. Well, about two miles up the road, MC finally realizes we’re heading in the wrong direction, and the Uber driver’s phone is now ringing off the hook.

So the Uber driver turns the car around, noting that I had plugged in the wrong location; he seemed pissed, and starts heading to Phoenix airport. MC and Conor are rolling their eyes! The Uber driver’s phone keeps ringing, and he finally answers. It’s Slivinsky wondering when the fuck the Uber driver is going to pick him up at the hotel.

The Uber driver apologizes repeatedly to the man on the phone, then turns to me and says, on the lip of anger:

“You’re not Slivinsky!” he says.

“I guess I’m not,” I replied, sheepishly.

“What the fuck?” rings a chorus from the back seat.

At this point, the driver had no choice, and is taking us to the airport. We’re late. Then MC’s phone rings. It’s the hotel. I’ve left my laptop, MY BRAIN, in the lobby. So the Uber driver now has to take us back to the hotel to pick up the laptop. Slivinsky, by the way, has grabbed another Uber, still quite upset. MC and Conor are now yelling at me, and apologizing profusely to the driver.

I sat silently in the front seat.

At the airport, I gave the driver a 50 percent tip, and apologized myself. He said not to worry. I told him I felt really bad, and that I deal with Alzheimer’s.

“I know, I could tell,” the driver said. “It’s in my family, too, and I’m afraid that one day it will attack me. You take care…”

We hugged, manly hugs, and he drove off…

Another angel in arms…

Conor and MC are now calling me “Slivinsky.”



Greg O’Brien, a career journalist, is a member of the board of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. He is author of the international award-winning On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s.


Greg O'Brien

Greg O’Brien is author of On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, the first book written by an investigative journalist embedded inside the mind of Alzheimer’s chronicling the progressions of his own disease. He is a member of the Board of Directors of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

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