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It's a Wonder Robin Williams Could Even 'Move': Doctor

Documentary explores how Lewy body dementia affected his brain
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2020 12:06 PM CDT
Updated Sep 5, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Robin Williams knew there was a lot more going on inside his brain than doctors realized. "Robin was right when he said to me, 'I just want to reboot my brain,'" his widow, Susan Schneider Williams, tells Today. "In that moment I promised him that we would get to the bottom of this and I just didn't know that would be after he passed." The new documentary Robin's Wish explores the 63-year-old's battle with Lewy body dementia, the second most-common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's, which he wasn't diagnosed with until after his 2014 death by suicide. "It's a killer. It is fast, it's progressive" and "this was about as devastating a form of Lewy body dementia as I had ever seen," says Dr. Bruce Miller, director of the University of California San Francisco's Memory and Aging Center. "It really amazed me that Robin could walk or move at all."

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Toward the end, Williams "wasn't in his right mind," says his widow. After a doctor advised they sleep in separate beds to help with the entertainer's insomnia, he asked if that meant they were separated. "That was a really shocking moment," she says. "You realize that there's a giant chasm somewhere." Robin's Wish director Tyler Norwood tells Fast Company the actor was never bitter or angry. "He was about two weeks from going into an inpatient program that he likely never would have come out of. And that's just not how the guy wanted to live." And so, "he went and asked for a hug from one of his close friends," then "said good night to his wife." Per People, she had previously told him that he'd already fulfilled what he said was his life's purpose: "to help people be less afraid." (The couple had just had a "perfect" day.)

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