My name is Sarah Stoner. I am a wife, working mother of 3, sister, friend and daughter. My life and that of all my family has been turned upside down by the recent diagnosis of my mum’s vascular dementia. This is my way of coping – dumping my thoughts and experiences down – and of trying to help others who may find themselves in a similar situation…..A bloody horrible, evil, despicable and shitty situation.
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.
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 and then within minutes we can all be laughing about the absurdity of what is happening, the comical side to this very dreadful disease.
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.