I had a call from the memory clinic, could I come and see the new Psychiatrist so that she sort out the form from the DVLA regarding my driving licence. My Consultant Prof L, retired at the end of March and the new one could not confirm whether I was still fit to drive without meeting me.
She read my notes, talked to us about whether I thought I had any problems driving and we ran through the usual test of the date, year, copy the shapes and count backwards from 100 in 7’s. This is where I fall flat, I have always have problems with numbers and maths. To me numbers are squiggles on a page that are meaningless, I do not see any patterns, connections, and I fail to understand any theoretical reasoning. Quite simply I am absolutely rubbish at maths of any sort. I got as far as; 100, 93, 86…. And that was it. Last time I had less difficulty. My memory is visual, and so if I cannot visualize the amount say in, dots, I have difficulty in working out a strategy to come up with an answer. Mr Hs has said he ‘takes away 10 and adds 3’, I am not sure I can still get my head round it. Does this mean that my ability to process information has got worse or it is dyscalculia?
She explained the reason for my referral to a hospital nearer to my address. The Younger Persons Memory Clinic is no longer taking people 60 years of age and over, also that all the services offered need the patient to be in the area. Fair enough, so Derby will be the best place for me.
We talked about the medication of Rivastigmene being dispensed by my GP which is fine. I told her of my experience of the medication enhancing my sense of the smell of food triggering a hunger response, which she immediately noted down in my notes. She then proceeded to tell me of her Research Paper published regarding Dementia and smell. I believe she is the only Doctor to have published on this area of research.
I asked Dr V if she could arrange for paperwork so that I can donate my brain to Alzheimer’s research, and she was thrilled, because there is a lack of brain donation which holds back development in the treatment of the Disease.
She asked me whether I would be interested in taking part in her current research into bio markers, and I immediately agreed. The neuroscience of my disease fascinates me and I think understanding what is happening physiologically and psychologically helps me accept my future demise.
Something that confuses people is the diagnosis of ‘possible or probable’ Alzheimer’s. Dr V said confirmation of the disease can only be made post mortem! Then she said that the correct diagnosis is Alzheimer’s Dementia. ‘But,’ I exclaimed, ‘I don’t have dementia’, she started to explain that there is no set time when ‘people’ progress more rapidly with the disease. She has known a patient to be still without dementia after 13 years, and one after only 2. Like everyone we talk to she talked about enjoying life as much as we can now, and it scares the hell out of me.
I always thought I was a person who accepted things as they were so that I could focus on everything else, but it seems that I want to fight this, which of course I can’t.
To explain how I feel I imagine that If you have to have a limb removed through disease, you may despair and desperately want it not to be true, but you can see the limb, feel the pain and know that there is a period of readjustment afterwards which although difficult will take over from the despair of before. The progress of dealing with the loss can be seen and improved with a positive attitude. When the problem is in your brain, you may not be aware of the rate the cognitive decline is happening, your thoughts will simply change without it seeming odd or wrong. I am scared that with cognitive decline I shall not be aware that dementia is increasing, because then I can no longer fight it.