News

Alzheimer's sufferer says "miracle" drug saved his life

LUCKY: Woorim dementia sufferer Tony Hogben has turned his life around with the help of a wonder drug.
LUCKY: Woorim dementia sufferer Tony Hogben has turned his life around with the help of a wonder drug. Dominic Geiger

YELLING at his "bugger of a kid" to slow down, Woorim man Tony Hogben had no idea he was about to discover the key to treating his debilitating Alzheimer's.

It was mid-2010, and the illness had taken its toll on the former workaholic food inspector.

"I'd lost that much weight and had deteriorated mentally as well as physically," Mr Hogben said.

"It's a horrible disease - it destroys you."

Unable to drive himself, Mr Hogben's son had picked him up so he could spend some time with family in Brisbane.

Having just acquired a new V8 Holden, his son was keen to show his ailing father what it could do, and pushed the vehicle past 140kmph on the way to the highway.

"I'm screaming, he's laughing his head off," Mr Hogben said.

"I abused him all the way back to his place."

Before the joyride, Mr Hogben said he was near death.

His dementia had crept up on him over many years after an horrific car crash in 1998 when he had to be "put back together".

He first realised something was "seriously wrong" when, several years following the crash, he became lost in a small town with only one street while driving from Port Macquarie to Dubbo.

"I sat there for two hours," he said.

"I didn't know who I was, where I was going, I couldn't believe it.

"So I sat in the street and had a chocolate milk."

Mr Hogben believes he "wouldn't have made it past Christmas" of 2010.

But the sudden adrenaline rush of speeding down the road with his son produced a profound change in his health.

Suddenly he found he could do crosswords again, and watch TV.

"I felt real good," Mr Hogben said.

"I thought, I know what this is, it's that adrenaline rush he put me through."

Five days later, when he was back on the island, Mr Hogben spoke to his GP about his experience.

Based on his story, his doctor decided to try him on a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor called Cymbalta - a drug normally used to treat depression, not Alzheimer's.

Mr Hogben said he hasn't looked back since.

"I walked back home, at 6 o'clock that night, I took it," he said.

"At 8 o'clock that night there I am as good as gold again.

"I could dress myself without falling over, watch TV ... I thought you beauty!"

Mr Hogben has been taking Cymbalta for five years.

Although it boasts a terrifying list of side effects, including suicidal ideation, Mr Hogben sings its praises.

"I've been on it ever since - the drug has saved my life," he said.

"Here I am able to talk about it today."

His recovery has been so profound, he has created a website telling his story, in the hope he can help other Alzheimer's sufferers.

A former race horse owner, Mr Hogben has even self-published a book on the at-times "nefarious" nature of the racing industry.

"I've had a few angry phone calls since then," he said.

For all his improvements, Mr Hogben knows he's still not 100%.

He at times forgets the chronological order of events, but can describe an incident from 10 years ago with remarkable clarity.

He also wears a Safely Home ID bracelet - an initiative by Alzheimer's Australia and Queensland Police to help members of the public identify dementia sufferers who "wander".

Now 65, Mr Hogben is looking forward to living his life with the aid of his "miracle" drug.

His story has spread; so far in fact, that one of the drug's designers suffering from early onset dementia recently emailed him seeking his advice.

"I said you have the treatment in your hands - do something with it," he said.

September is Dementia Awareness Month.

For details contact Alzheimer's Australia on 1800 100 500.

Topics:  alzheimer's dementia health


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Warning: damaging winds and heavy rain, Caboolture

Queensland Police have issued a warning of thunderstorms in Caboolture.

STORM warning for Caboolture area.

Girl, 9, found safe and well

A nine-year-old girl is missing from Bellmere. Photo: Queensland Police Service

Residents urged to check their yards

Local Partners

Hiring someone with a disability is easy as drinking coffee

CPL'S Mylestones Employment is offering free coffee to talk about your business and the benefits of hiring someone with a disability.

How Stay at Home Mum blogger Jody Allen struck it big

Jody Allen and Walt Collins will co-host the Seven Network's Stay at Home Mum television series from April.

Jody Allen's star continues to rise at incredible speed

Comedy with extra cheese

Paul Fenech is taking his TV series Fat Pizza on the road for a series of live shows.

Fat Pizza and Housos are coming to town

One of the top five car collections in the world

A 1950 Alvis TB14 Roadster is a highlight in the museum.

Gosford home to largest, privately-owned classic car collection.

Nadia visits Coast to escape Married At First Sight drama

MARRIED At First Sight contestant Nadia Stamp escaped to the Coast for a girl's weekend to take stock ahead of week of drama.

‘I didn’t stuff it up like you have’: Plibersek on Q&A

“I didn’t stuff it up the way you have stuffed it up, George”: Tanya Plibersek.

Plibersek lashed out at Brandis to plenty of applause

MKR cheating scandal: Alyse and Matt hit back

Matt Jenner shows his MKR rivals the curry paste he and Alyse used.

Alyse and Matt Jenner have hit back at claims they cheated on MKR

The spare part that forced the ABC off air

Aunty's showing her age ahead during new IT roll out

Why ABC Coast FM has taken so long to resume local programming

MKR rocked by satay sauce cheating scandal

Alyse and Matt slammed for satay sauce fiasco.

'Nasty' Married At First Sight groom ripped apart on TV

Anthony gets torn down during the Married At First Sight commitment ceremony.

MAFS groom Anthony faces the music after fiery dinner party.

MOVIE REVIEW: Matt Damon's The Great Wall gets lost

Matt Damon fails in a scene from the movie The Great Wall.

Did The Great Wall get lost in translation?

Popular island resort sells to loaded international investor

OUR PICK: Chris Foey's colourful shot of one of Gladstone's great tourism hot spots, Heron Island.

International investor snaps up piece of Gladstone paradise.

Expert: Why renters, home buyers may struggle

Matusik Property Insights director Michael Matusik.

What's next for the city's housing market

Massive seaside development of 3200 lots

DESIRABLE LIFESTYLE: The masterplan for the proposed Elliott Heads Estate.

"There's nothing else left along the coastline of Queensland now"

Potential home buyers punished for doing the 'right thing'

Should I go to university or buy a house?

50 more high rise buildings planned for Brisbane CBD

Height limits have been scrapped for Brisbane CBD

800,000 more people expected to work in city over next 20 years

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!