I decided to start writing a blog about an hour ago. Just after I’d got back from the gym, put the toddler to bed and realised I was up to date with the ironing and cleaning. Great, I thought, I’ve got a couple of hours before the school run and the chaos of after school activities with the elder two, why not spend a few hours writing about how utterly shit my poor mum’s situation is and see if it can help anyone.
So, here I am. Not actually quite sure if I’ve set up the site right and whether I’ve just bought a domain name or whether I’ve actually just funded some major financial crime that may bring down the world economy. But heh ho….I’m going for it!
As a first post, I suppose I’d better summarise the current situation. I am sure as the weeks and months pass that I will reminisce about things that have happened over the past 12 months or so, but I need to start somewhere…..
My mum is 65 and was 64 last year when she was diagnosed with early on-set vascular dementia. Now, that would have meant nothing to me more than 12 months ago. I’d have been sympathetic but would have dismissed this as an old person’s disease…bound to give me and my family a wide berth. After all, my mum was young, fit, fun, competent and confident. She was the vice lady captain of a large golf club. She taught ballroom dancing every week to young couples in her local village. She held dinner parties for friends and family. She was a brilliant seamstress and made all the blinds and curtains that have adorned the windows in my last three houses. She was fearless (apart from large horses, water, boats and flying) and would think nothing of jumping in the car and driving 200 miles from her home in Scotland to visit me or my brother or sister, usually to help us decorate, make blinds or curtains or to help with the children. Everything was do-able with my mum. I’d call and ask her advice on everything from making soup to whether I was still in love with the boy from school (she said of course I was, don’t be so ridiculous and we’ve been together ever since).
This is the lady I am now missing dreadfully. Physically she’s still there and for a few fleeting seconds when Dad puts her on the phone each day, it is so easy to believe that she is “her” again. But then the delusions start, the rambling and whispering about men in the house, about children eating all the food, about wanting to “go home”, about men wanting to rape her. I thought dementia was losing your memory. Was about being forgetful and not recognizing family and friends, but gradually over time. I had no idea that it came with a whole host of other utterly devastating symptoms; delusions, hallucinations, anger, anxiety and fear. Sadness, melancholy and a deep deep depression that has engulfed her and means some days she can hardly open her eyes. So, not only has my mum – the lady whose laugh could stop traffic and whose naughty twinkly smile was so infectious – got all these terrible things to deal with, but she no longer knows my Dad the man who has loved her since they were 17…oh, and she can no longer get herself dressed.
It’s a bloody shitty thing this dementia. It makes me so sad sometimes it feels like a heavy weight on my lungs, making it hard to breath.
So, this blog is dedicated to my amazing mum and my wonderful dad who is doing his best to cope in a terrible situation. I hope it brings amusement to some and help or support to others who may need it. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not in it alone.