"the Embuggerance is finally catching up with me"
July 4, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I have been putting off writing this announcement for quite some time and on good days thought I wouldn’t have to write it at all. However, it is with great reluctance that I have to tell you all that I will not be able to attend the upcoming Discworld Convention in Manchester. I am very sorry about this, but I have been dodging the effects of PCA and have been able to write for much longer than any of us ever thought possible, but now The Embuggerance is finally catching up with me, along with other age-related ailments. I know people will have already made plans far in advance and some will be travelling a long way, but this is the first time ever that I have been unable to attend a UK convention and I really am very sorry. They say time marches on, and it does, even though I have been running very fast to keep one step ahead of it. I really was looking forward to seeing your smiley, happy faces. Have fun everyone. Yes, on this occasion, have lots of fun.
After the happy news Tuesday that sir Terry Pratchett was well along with the fifth Tiffany Aching novel, it came as a shock to hear only a day later that he he had to cancel his appearances at the Discworld con because of his Alzheimer's disease.

Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy, a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's in 2007 and has been an outspoken supporter of Alzheimer's research, donating one million dollars to the Alzheimer's Research Trust, as well as being open about living with the disease. He deliberately set out not just to get more funding for research, but also to make the disease less taboo, in a similar way the death of Richard Dimbleby of cancer in 1965 helped bring that disease into the open.

He mentions this comparison in his introduction to his 2010 Richard Dimbleby Lecture, Shaking Hands with Death, read by Tony Robinson. In this lecture Pratchett put forth his argument for the right to die, which he followed up in 2011 with the BBC documentary Choosing to Die, following several people who had indeed decided to end their lives and discussing their reasons for doing so.

Sir Terry Pratchett himself has said that he would end his life before the Alzheimer's could take him:
And so I have vowed that rather than let Alzheimer's take me, I would take it. I would live my life as ever to the full and die, before the disease mounted its last attack, in my own home, in a chair on the lawn, with a brandy in my hand to wash down whatever modern version of the Brompton Cocktail some helpful medic could supply. And with Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death.
posted by MartinWisse (44 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I was so sad to read this. I wish the best for him.
posted by Lynsey at 12:32 PM on July 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

Dammit, dammit, dammit. I'm glad I got to meet him a couple years ago. He said I looked like Parrot.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:42 PM on July 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh man, this is so downheartening. Good luck Mr Pratchett, whatever happens.
posted by marienbad at 12:45 PM on July 4, 2014

posted by Happy Dave at 12:45 PM on July 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

.... I'm literally at a loss for words....

Thanks Martin, for a lovely post about a difficult topic.
posted by schmod at 12:45 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's hoping Death is as gentlemanly to Pterry as he is in the novels.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:48 PM on July 4, 2014 [19 favorites]

I always get a scare when I read Pratchett's name on a post.
posted by Pendragon at 12:51 PM on July 4, 2014 [29 favorites]

Not one book of his has left me without a smile, or something to think about. That's about all I'd wish to give others in this life, and that he was able to do it for millions has got to be gratifying for him on some level. At least I hope it has been.

Take care, Mr Pratchett, and thank you!
posted by droplet at 12:54 PM on July 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is terrible and is going to continue to be terrible until it is the most terrible. I have this fantasy that the subject of the next post about Pratchett will be news of some amazing and unprecedented recovery. I know that is not going to be the subject of the next post about Pratchett.
posted by tzikeh at 1:00 PM on July 4, 2014 [30 favorites]

(I thought we agreed we would title all Pratchett posts "He aten't dead" until such time as that is no longer true.)

I think the saddest part of this is finding out that things had been going better than expected.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:01 PM on July 4, 2014 [16 favorites]

posted by dilettante at 1:01 PM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Always the good guys.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:03 PM on July 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Millennium hand and shrimp.
posted by jferg at 1:06 PM on July 4, 2014 [11 favorites]

Sir Terry Pratchett himself has said that he would end his life before the Alzheimer's could take him

I'm completely on-board with this. From dealing with and watching my mother lose herself to this disease, I'm of the same mind as Sir Terry...End myself before it consumes me.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:14 PM on July 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

I wish him well. His books have brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. It's been a lot of years, but I enjoyed reading them at one point.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:22 PM on July 4, 2014

I hope Sir Pratchett has a really fine vintage of Brandy set aside, and that his supply for the Brompton Cocktail is assured, and that he has his final drink with Death with dignity and in peace, no earlier than necessary but without missing his date.
posted by localroger at 1:26 PM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh and fuck Alzheimer's.
posted by localroger at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Terry Pratchett deserves better than this. The universe disagrees with me, but then, that's a big reason why we read fiction.
posted by JHarris at 1:27 PM on July 4, 2014 [13 favorites]

Sir Terry cancelled his appearance at the 2013 North American Discworld Convention in Baltimore at the last minute. Officially, he had to do it because he was hard at work on Raising Steam, but I think everyone had their suspicions.

He made it up to us, though, by calling in via video chat and answering questions. I was able to thank him for all the good work he's done, and ask him a question that I knew was somber, but it was what I most wanted to know: When Granny Weatherwax meets Death for the final time, what will she have to say to him?

I choked up just a little bit, and so did he, but he answered me: "I think she'll say... 'Thank you.'"
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:32 PM on July 4, 2014 [55 favorites]

Fuck Alzheimer's.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:33 PM on July 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Man, between this post, the Lou Gehrig one, and the Thai commercials one, Metafilter really wants me to spend my 4th of July weeping! I'm gonna be a hell of a lot of fun at the bbq later tonight.
posted by silverstatue at 1:39 PM on July 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Damn. Damn. Damn. Every single aunt on my Mother's side of the family has died of Alzheimer's (or is in the process of doing so), and I try to keep myself from constantly checking her for signs of the disease, but it's hard.
posted by xingcat at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

No great fan of Pratchett's work, but I admire him. My father's side of the family has very probably left me with a high likelihood of getting Alzheimer's. I saw it take him, his sister and his mother very lengthily and horribly. I intend to find a way to off myself before it takes me if, as seems almost inevitable, I start to go that way.

As an aside, people who oppose euthanasia are monsters. They may not think they are, but they are, and their utterly bogus justifications for denying their fellow human beings the same basic decency they would not hesitate to grant their dog make me sick and furious.
posted by Decani at 3:20 PM on July 4, 2014 [27 favorites]

Oh, goddammit. I am too drunk right now to process this.

posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:48 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

No. Just, no.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:23 PM on July 4, 2014

I have been hoping against hope that this day would always come later... tomorrow... just a week later.

Alzheimer's is one of my worst fears. I too would likely end things before it fully took me if I got diagnosed.
posted by metaquarry at 4:52 PM on July 4, 2014

Pratchett has a sword made from meteoric iron. I keep hoping he'll use it to destroy the Embuggerance once and for all.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:43 PM on July 4, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh, goddammit. I am too drunk right now to process this.

Alas, all the rum I drank has now worn off.

posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on July 4, 2014

More than any other single author, Terry Pratchett has brought joy into my life, and made me think more than a bit, too. How can you repay a debt like that? Here's to miracle cures or, if those are not forthcoming, to exiting on his own terms.
posted by maxwelton at 6:26 PM on July 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

I would shake hands with Death.

And He will come in person for you, as he does for all Wizards.

I hope that meeting is still some time away. But I know how horrid Alzheimer's is, and trust in his decisions about it. Meet Death on your own terms, good sir.
posted by nubs at 6:28 PM on July 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

Science, please hurry up.
posted by humanfont at 6:51 PM on July 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sir Terry, we rejoice in your life.
posted by SPrintF at 6:57 PM on July 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

MTL, last late summer, somewhere in Mile End, Neil Gaiman's "last" book signing tour:

It's late-ish (around 10:30/11 pm), Neil has read a selection of things from his most recent novel, some bits from his newest kid-friendly novel, and some old crowd favorites from his various works. Then comes the signing line. The longest line that ever did line in lining history (obviously, I exaggerate, I was tired).

I have heard/seen/briefly met Neil Gaiman for a few years and I make no apologies for loving him. But having heard that this was the last go in NA for some time, I want to make the most of it. I bring the rubberband bound, horribly tattered, notes-in-the-margin-because-my-teenage-best-friend-and-I-had-this-idea-of-how-we-would-cast-it copy of Good Omens (because when you think about it, who doesn't at my age have a horrible well-loved copy of GO??). It is in really bad shape. The worst.

Neil does a double take when he sees me bring it, except to remark a few things: "Oh, wow, I never thought I'd be the kind of author who signs a book whose pages have gone all yellow. How old is this again?"

I tell him that I bought it when I was 15 and I am now 36.

He pauses. And signs it. "Take care of this book, Marisa. Given the age of it, I wish Terry were here to sign it too."

And that is my only Terry Pratchett story.
posted by Kitteh at 8:33 PM on July 4, 2014 [15 favorites]

Terry Pratchett embodies all that is noble, true and bloody minded for me. May he continue to grace us with his presence for as long as he wants to.
posted by arcticseal at 8:34 PM on July 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd like to tell Sir Terry how his humor and his philosophy have brought warmth and laughter to my life, even at times when I didn' t think I could feel either one - and now, with sadness but with great admiration, I thank him also for being a role model in courage; when I'm finished with this business of living and dying, I can follow his lead and know I'm not alone.

... and yes, f**k Alzheimer's.
posted by aryma at 8:58 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sir Terry is my writing hero, not because of his battle with Alzheimer's, though it is noble. It's just that, I've never not enjoyed his books. I admire his sense of character, and there's always a little bit of each book that sticks with me every time. I've just discovered Tiffany Aching and I adore her, and while I eagerly away book five, if you feel that now is the time to bow out, Sir Terry, I support you absolutely.

We'll never meet (and I'll forever regret not seeing him at Town Hall in Seattle a few years ago), and he'll never know I exist, which is fine, but he's part of the little world I've created and write about. He is my biggest influence, and I'll always aspire to do what he did and to make people feel how he made me feel and oh god I'm tearing up a bit.

Have I said I adore Tiffany Aching? Team Tiffany Aching forever!
posted by gc at 9:49 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went to a presentation on Pratchett and Discworld back in February. The fellow putting it on (mentioned here) was of course dressed as Mustrum Ridcully, accompanied by Grannies Weatherax and Ogg. (Oh my god, Ogg's boobs....OMG.) At any rate, Oberon said that he'd met Pratchett and asked him what I would have, i.e. how do you write witches and magic so well? He said that the answer was that Pratchett had grown up with women like that where he was from.

I especially want to cry that he was working on a fifth Tiffany.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:28 PM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I saw this a few days ago and thought about posting but I just couldn't do it. For whatever reason, having it on Metafilter would make it too real.

I especially want to cry that he was working on a fifth Tiffany.

He is working on the fifth Tiffany Aching book.
posted by kmz at 12:38 AM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

And it will hopefully be quite far along as he mentioned he was working on a new Tiffany Aching book when I saw him in Edinburgh last August.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 11:23 AM on July 5, 2014

I have feels about both pTerry and Alzheimer's, but let me just say I'm happy that there are 85 million books out there bearing his kindness and his humour. My first published review was a Pratchett retrospective and some of his last books rank among his best. And this comment is not a eulogy because HE ATEN'T DEAD, damn it.
posted by ersatz at 12:25 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't even bring myself to read this thread or the links yet; pTerry has been a hugely formative influence on my for more years than I care to remember.

ATEN'T DED YET, thank goodness.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:30 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by evilDoug at 9:43 PM on July 5, 2014

I don't know much about the man, but I highly approve of his musical taste.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah would seem like a natural choice, but this is what I'll be singing in my head when the time comes.
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2014

I hope Death has to stand a long time because Terry's too busy holding his pencil and writing to notice He's been waiting there for a handshake.

Don't leave us too early! But go when you need to, Good Sir.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:12 AM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

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