Category Archives: Ann’s Update

Sasha Shulgin (1925-2014)

The Shulgin Lab

At 5:00 pm on June 2, 2014, Dr. Alexander T. Shulgin succumbed to liver cancer. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. For more information please see ASRI’s obituary for Sasha.

For details regarding Sasha’s memorial, which will be held in a few weeks in the Bay Area, please join our e-mail list via the form to the right.

To All Our Friends…

The time has come for me to tell you what none of us wanted to say or hear. Sasha has moved into a new phase, beginning just four or five days ago, characterized by great weakness (he can barely lift his head), loss of weight (he’s somewhere around 130 lbs.), and reluctance to utter more than single words at a time.

We are still blessed in that he has no pain—or when he does have a twinge or even a needle-strike, it’s over immediately, and we haven’t had to give him any of the strong pain medicines which Hospice has available. We hope it continues that way.

But everything else is not good news. He’s holding on to life, or at least his body is fighting the good fight (he was always extremely strong and healthy, until a few years ago), and it’s possible that he may live to see his 89th birthday, but we can’t be sure. For that matter, he may stay with us for several months more, but we would be surprised if he did.

Sasha knows that he’s dying, but that doesn’t bother him. He doesn’t know he has cancer of the liver, and there’s no need for him to know; that knowledge would give him nothing useful. After all, as he has said, “We all have to die of something!”

Thanks to all of you for your support all these years. We appreciate every single dollar and every note or e-mail. You have kept our Tibetan and British caregivers here with him, and he has been surrounded by love and a lot of laughter, due to your help and compassion.

I’ll let you know when there is an important change. In the meantime,

Blessings

Ann and Team Shulgin

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Photo by Greg Manning

Health Update for Sasha

April 17, 2014

Dear People,

First, my apology (yet again) for the long silence. I’ve been dealing with pain control for months, due to a bad left hip joint which can’t be dealt with by surgery, and –- as many of you know – pain tends to diminish energy, and writing takes energy. Things are gradually improving, with the help of good doctoring by Dr. Paul Abramson, and here I am.

It’s not just because I’m feeling better that I’m communicating with you today; it seems to me that the full story of Sasha’s health has to be shared with you right now, since all of you have – miraculously – helped to keep him safe and well cared for at home, and you deserve to know what has developed within the last few months.

You know Sasha has mild dementia, which means that he talks and laughs and creates marvelous puns, but can’t remember what he had for breakfast, or even that he actually had a breakfast. He remembers old friends, but can’t easily remember the names of his care-people, who have been with him for over a year. It is because of the dementia that I have not told him what I am now telling you, which is that he has recently been diagnosed as having liver cancer. It is absolutely painless, thank God, and we hope it’ll continue to be so. He has lost a lot of weight and is beginning to weaken, but the girls keep him exercised and walking so that he can visit his favorite Starbucks and interact with the group of nice elders who gather there every day.

We have the help of Hospice, which is wonderful. There isn’t much, yet, for them to do except take his vital signs once a week, but they are there when and if we need them.

If Sasha were mentally clear and able to understand fully what the situation is, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell him, but as it is, he would take in the information and forget most of it, but the images and fears would be there when he woke in the morning and he would spend a lot of time wondering what was wrong and why he felt anxious, and we would spend all this precious time with him trying to explain over and over again and reassuring him and wishing we’d kept quiet and allowed him to enjoy these months. After all, he is happy most of the time, and I want him to remain happy. He will be 89 years old in June, and we will celebrate his long and fruitful and loving life with all our hearts and he will remain at peace.

I thank all of you, yet again, for having helped us so much during these past years, and believe me when I tell you that we are grateful for every five dollar bill (and there have been many) as well as every one hundred dollar bill. Not many people have such friends and such compassionate and caring acquaintances, and so many people expressing gratitude at the end of their lives. Thank you.

Blessings — Ann

 

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 Photo by Greg Manning

Donate toward Sasha’s health care costs!

 

Ann’s Update: 10 Mar 2011

March 10, 2011 6:32:01 PM PST

Dear Friends, Strangers and Visitors from Other Solar Systems,

Now, as to Sasha’s state of brain and mind.  As you know, he has mild dementia, which is the reason we have round-the-clock care.  For a couple of years, he was taking Aricept and Namenda, which may or may not have helped slow the process, but which obviously weren’t doing much of anything recently.  Our new doctor, Paul Abramson, decided to take him off those, and put him on hydergine, Albert Hofmann’s compound.  That was about three weeks ago.  I didn’t expect any obvious results, and of course one never knows if a state of dementia is being slowed down; I mean, how would you tell?

So when Dee (one of our miraculous Tibetan women) told me that Sasha was suddenly doing certain little things (like feeding himself) which he hadn’t been doing before, I said “What!  He is?”  or something like that, and she then listed a few other things that he was doing better, all of which was astonishing.  Clearly, the hydergine has been changing things.  He takes it three times a day.

I’m thinking seriously of asking our doctor if I might try the drug myself.  After all, it’s my understanding that Albert and his wife took it themselves for many years, and my thinking, focusing and memory could use a bit of sharpening, to say the least!

I know that dementia is not reversible, and that the brain’s blood vessels can’t be cleaned out the way some blood vessels in the legs can be, but even small improvements — less sleepiness (sometimes), more ability to focus on things that matter to him (like chemistry), a bit less “sundowning” in the evenings (sometimes) — become immensely important to all of us.  It’s like getting a bit more “real Sasha” back, even if it isn’t every day or every evening.  We really celebrate every improvement of this kind, and hope that it’ll last for a while.

I hear from Greg that an amazing number of lovely people have asked what I want for my birthday.  A card would be wonderful, but as for gifts — I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that what matters to me most is being relieved of the constant anxiety about how we’re going to afford to keep Sasha at home with the excellent and loving care he’s getting from our three Graces.  By the way, Sasha’s increase in physical strength, his ability to walk now with a cane instead of a walker, is entirely due to the women who take care of him and put him through exercises all day long (although they do let him nap a bit in his chair after meals).  They treat him like their own fathers, with love and humor, and you can’t put a price on that.

So what I want for my birthday is to find a few very wealthy and compassionate people who are interested in consciousness and familiar with the world of psychedelics, and who understand what Sasha’s work has meant — and will continue to mean, long after he dies — and can afford to help us keep him home and so very well cared-for.

In the meantime, I feel tremendous gratitude to all of you who have sacrificed God knows what, to send us whatever you could.  It’s because of you that we’ve made it this far, and I hope you understand that I can’t thank you individually, although I would if I could.

The best thing I can do in return is to continue The Third Book.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can put aside one whole day a week (with Tania’s help) to do nothing but write.  Several chapters are already half written, and I’m going to re-write them and continue with new chapters and the necessary research next week.  Tania is away this weekend, but after Sunday, she’ll be able to take the phones and keep the world at bay for that one whole day a week, and I’ll get started.

For now, I wish you all Blessings — and don’t forget to re-set your clocks before bed on Saturday.

Love and thanks — Ann

Ann’s Update: 8 Mar 2011

Dear All,

Okay, I’m B-A-A-A-CK.  And never mind asking where I’ve been, because I wouldn’t tell you even if I knew.

Sasha is not only doing well, he’s doing remarkably well on the physical front, and even a little bit on the mental front.  Our two Tibetan ladies, who usually take over during days, have been responsible for the improvements in Sasha’s body.  They exercise him almost continuously, sometimes gentle upper-body stretching, which strengthens his arms, sometimes standing at the kitchen sink, lifting feet and legs (one at a time for now), and once a day, walking all the way to and from the lab.  Gradually, they’ve weaned him off the walker and back to a walking stick (with one of the women next to him at all times), and as of today, he can walk all by himself with his stick — not fast, but steadily — although, again, with a capable, strong woman right behind him (they are really strong, these gals — all three of them).

No more shuffling steps, thank you very much, and no more moments of dizziness.  With the increased strength in his legs — and arms — he’s beginning to hold himself differently now.  A bit straighter, a bit more like the original Sasha we’ve been missing for so long.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the mental side of things.

Love and Blessings — Ann