Who am I?

Who am I….

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(Updated May 2015)

I am Gill, 62 and am separated from my husband whom I married in June 2011.

I have moved from a 58′ narrowboat on the canals in Staffordshire, to a studio flat in retirement housing in Berkshire.  Fortunately a river runs through the gardens and I can still wake up to the sound of noisy ducks in the morning.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and then just before Christmas 2012 I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s which was a great unexpected shock to both my husband and I.  Sadly our marriage has not survived my diagnosis, and my long term plans now include my daughter who will become my main carer in the future.

I want to record my daily life and thoughts to look back on when I no longer remember.  I hope I have 15 years at least before I am no longer me.  So I will try and write as long as I can.

I aim to be honest with my thoughts, and maybe ask questions and talk about things most people don’t want to face and talk about.

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MY PHOTOGRAPHY – Why I take pictures

As I have Alzheimer’s and in the early stages of dementia, I struggle to learn new information because it is not retained in my memory, so learning to use the settings on my camera is practically impossible.  Some days I remember something but often than not I don’t.

I call them my Filigree Images because I liken my pictures to my brain which I think of as a growing piece of lace.  Images create memories, of people, place and time, and that is the part that will slowly diminish for me.

I love art of all kinds and see things around me that stimulates a thought, and would make an interesting picture but capturing what is in my mind doesn’t always work out!

The type of images that stimulates my brain are; patterns, shape with accents of light, colours, and incongruous scenes before me.  I a not very good at taking scenic photographs because there is too much information for me to process.  The less information the better my brain works!

I love doors, architecture, people and close up images; perhaps they are a means to escape from myself.  It is theorised that ‘dreams’/thoughts/obsessions of buildings etc, represents the self.

See what I did there?  I have just thrown in a bit of psychology theory at no extra charge 🙂

My pictures must provoke a curiosity for me.  I have no illusions that I am a fantastic photographer because:

  1. I can’t hold the camera still enough – physical difficulties in remaining still (and not falling over!)
  2. I cannot see details quick enough – problems with visual perception
  3. I cannot crouch low into a position to get a different point of view – Joint problems and arthritis
  4. Usually have no idea what setting to put my camera on and there is no way I am using Auto!!

So you can my see problems.

Pictures are important to me as my memory becomes worse. Images may be replacing words?  in some way I hope they become part of recording my Alzheimer’s Journey.

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MY BOOK REVIEWS – Why do I review books?

 

Brain training apps can bore me to tears…yawn, and I need a way to constantly stimulate my brain, keep those neurons firing and maintaining pathways to stave off memory loss a little while longer.  What better way to do it than to read and then review books.

I began a relationship with classics at a very early age.  I would read everything I could get my hands on and some of that was my fathers old Grammar School books such as Macbeth, a four inch dictionary with drawings, and his school text books on how to use grammar.   A child’s training for a stimulated mind starts with stories.  Not cartoons, or games, but real words.  Words that conjure up a myriad of images in a childs own head, and that starts with parents reading to them from the earliest of ages, then the questions begin……

I have never stopped reading and now review my books for a wider audience.  I call it Great Book Escapes because that is exactly what it is.

I have studied Psychology, History of Science and Astronomy at University, I have worked in Computing and IT, Mental Health, Counselling and 16- 25 year old homeless young adults.  When I came across young adults from background of drugs and alcohol abuse, and abusive childhoods, and I saw them reading books in my last job, I realised their hope for the future.  I have now retired, and spend a lot of my time stimulating my brain and imagination with books of all kinds and reviewing them in a variety of places.

Do I know what makes a good book?  Sure I do, I know what I enjoy reading, I know how language can make you feel part of a character, a book, and what makes a great book to escape into, it may not be exactly the same if you read it because each person enjoys stories differently.

Can I review a book effectively? Sure I can, I love the intricacies of a novel, I love the way authors write beautiful lines that stick in your head.  Words that are so profound, matching all of the great philosophers.  I enjoy a good plot, a twist, an unexpected turn, I enjoy what is in the head of other people who can make it real on a page.  I love what books teach me that I never knew or understood before.  Several authors have emailed me personally about my reviews so they must be ok.

I absolutely escape into a book – I escape my Alzheimer’s, I escape if I am not feeling well.    I always read other peoples reviews to get an idea of what a book may be like, then read it to make my own mind up.

Hopefully people will read my reviews and want to read that book too.  🙂

43 thoughts on “Who am I?”

  1. I feel absolutely honored to be following you. I’ve been looking at your posts and I very much enjoy them. For your camera, have you got a tripod? That might help steady the camera if that’s something you’re interested in. I hope we will become friends through our mutual love of books and the like. 🙂

    –Clarissa ❤

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    1. Thank you Clarissa, I do have a tripod and a mono-pod. The monopod still weaves about when I hold it, but my lightweight tripod is great but I don’t often carry it.

      Love your site by the way, it looks great and I like your reviews. Great to meet new friends though a love of books 🙂

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  2. I am so glad we found one another! There is no way I can express how much I admire you — your forthrightness, your optimism and your 58-foot boat!!!!!!!! in England — on a canal — in Staffordshire !! Oh, my goodness. This English major’s heart is beating. How I love England (I’m a New Jersey girl living outside of Philadelphia.)

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  3. Many thanks for visiting my blog and for the honesty of this post. When I’m back home and at my computer not on my iPhone I’ll take a closer look at your blog. Book reviews! Who could possibly resist!

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  4. Thanks for dropping by my blog tonight/today.

    Being a fellow FM sufferer, I can sympathise with your pain, but the Alzheimer’s? Not quite. I have intermittent short term memory lapses (which I put down to another FM symptom). It and the FM were the main reasons I had to quit working 4 years ago.

    But since my memory has been intermittent for years, I had a ‘bright light’ moment recently and concluded that it was all the heavy alcohol consumption in my twenties that contributed to my memory ‘black outs’ and cognitive dysfunction.

    I only learned how to use my DSLR by constant repetition over & over….. dozens of times. Even today I have moments when I can’t work out the camera settings, but Photography has certainly improved my cognitive function. As to reading, well, fiction is now pretty much impossible for me as I can only concentrate on a chapter at a time and the next night, I’ve pretty much forgotten what I read the night before, so it’s all down to non-fiction now.

    I’m sorry to read that you have been formally diagnosed with early Alzheimers. I hope you get many more years before it gets to the stage of not knowing who you are and who is family (or not).

    I keep my life as simple as possible and write everything down as I think of it in A4 spiral notebooks on my desk in front of my computer. Even if I don’t remember to look at the notebook, the very act of writing it down seems to make me remember the item/task most of the time. I certainly have hilarious stories to recount about my memory lapses.

    Best Wishes
    Vicki

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    1. Hi Vicki

      You repetition with your camera has certainly paid off! Nice work.

      FM sucks doesn’t it!

      My memory has always been a problem too. Giving up work was the best thing as the stress levels disappeared. You sound like you have got it pretty much sorted out though, I wish I was so organised. I start writing things down but then forget to haha!

      I do find writing a great help with my memory, it sort of stimulates it to work a bit better!
      warm regards
      Gill

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      1. No, not sorted Gill. I have an art background & education so my photography is really just an extension of my youth. It’s almost ‘natural’.
        I just don’t let on how bad the ‘brain fog’ days are, though.

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        1. The brain fog is hideous, I get days when I can’t function FM or ALZ I have no idea, probably both for me. I have learnt to be quiet, I listen to my iPod and withdraw into my own world and it somehow works. Not stressing allows me to recover somewhat. It is hard keeping up a pretence that everything is better than it is, but equally you don’t want to shout it out!
          Be kind to yourself, thats all I can say, and just do the best you can at that time.

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  5. You are a very brave woman, and I admire what you are doing here on this blog. I had a very dear friend who also had Early onset Alzheimers, and it struck me as so unfair. All her life, she did everything right. She exercised and she watched what she ate. She kept up with things, and was one of the earliest to watch for bad chemicals and look for good nutrients. If you looked at factors predicting Alzheimers, you would not look at her.

    Except for one thing. As she was biking one day, she had a bad accident and although she was wearing a helmet, she banged her head badly. I don’t know that was a causal factor, but nothing else fits.

    I guess the good news is that she didn’t know she had Alzheimers until she was fairly advanced.

    You are taking a shock and turning it into something positive. I hope you live your life to its fullest! Thank you for blogging.

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    1. Thank you for your very kind words.

      How sad for you and your friend, I think I am glad I know that I have it although I am not sure I am brave, I often feel like a butterfly desperate to get out of a jam jar and sometimes think that maybe I write to mask anything is wrong with me. Perhaps it is more that I am saying, “here look, I am fine, I can write these words, so I must be ok. Maybe I will never get any worse”.

      It amazes me to think that I have holes in my brain, because I don’t really ‘feel’ any different than I have for a long time.

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  6. My heart goes out to you for your challenges; yet I feel that your steps to self healing will change the prognosis in many ways. And in your now moments, a richer experience of your world is better than some people will ever know. Thank you for sharing honestly about your life.

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    1. Thank you dweezer19 I think you may be right. I really do experience things differently from before. I am so much more relaxed now because there is nothing to get stressed about as it won’t change anything, and being relaxed enables me to enjoy everything more.

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  7. Thank you for connecting with me and I am eager to read more from you! Upon visiting your blog I’m immediately touched by it’s peace, your peace. And truth, so much truth, plain and kind and bittersweet truth, that this place is special. It is as if you are inviting me to your boat to float and rest and ponder and learn. Thank you for all of this 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I just read about you living on a boat in England. That has always been my dream, to live on a houseboat, since I can remember. The water pulls me in – its my “comfort zone” my peaceful place of serenity. You will have to message me more about living on one :). I just shared it with my husband and said “maybe, someday, soon, can we?” 🙂 I have family in England, though never met, no idea where. My grandparents came over from Newport, Wales. I have family in Lympsham, Somerset.. as I’m not from there, I have no idea if these are cities, (in America, we have counties or parishes that cities are in). Before my father passed last year, he used to talk about my family in England. All I know is the names, last name being Sperring. What a small world we are actually in. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Melanie, so interesting to hear your thoughts. I was born in Newport, South Wales, which makes me Welsh. All my family are from Wales. Indeed it is a small world. Wales is very much divided into South, Mid and North Wales, each with their own counties which have changed over time. When I was born Newport was in the county of Monmouthshire, now it is call Gwent. The Welsh were (are!) are hardy people, historically black hair and more olive skin..much like myself (before I went grey!) You should have a look up the Welsh if you are of descent. Lympsham is a small village and interestingly enough the name Sperring is a very local name tied to that village going back to 18th Century! If you haven’t looked at your ancestry I think you should.

      Living on a boat is wonderful. Yes the connection to the water is so peaceful. Our boat is a canal boat 58′ long and 6’10” wide, so it is like living in a tube. The inside is lined with white oak and feels very cosy. Not for those who like lots of space though. Floating homes I think are more spacious and you usually have a space to sit outside looking across at the water. If you want to do something like live on a boat you should do it. I was 58 when I sold my house and bought a boat and have never looked back. 🙂

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      1. I will have to look into the Welsh. I wish my father had not passed a year ago, he would have loved to know more about his family still in Wales. I have gone on Ancestry.com for years now and the furthest back I’ve been able to go back is to Samuel Sperring in Lympsham of 1801. Then an Edna Sperring who passed in 1963 an ancestor of my father’s Aunt & Uncle, Ernest John Sperring. I couldnt find anything further on this end. I came across the name of Duncan Sperring in
        Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, in the age group of 50-59 it says, but no contact made back to me as of yet. I have the Sperring family bible that was given to my grandmother when she came to America. It shows her blood line. A great treasure but wish there were more clues inside of it. 🙂

        Before I had been a correctional officer, my husband and I drove tractor trailer truck across the country for a few years, then when we relocated from New York to North Carolina we lived in a park model type home. It was small, but perfect for the two of us, so a boat, would be no problem for either one of us. I’m hoping to get more and more involved with my blog and the outlets Tru sent me as soon as my husband is feeling stronger and I go through a couple more “in hospital” procedures for my Chorea in my windpipe. Somedays its a struggle to find that hope and will, but then God steps in again, and gives me that boost I need. My husband and son mostly keep things in and try to always think that things are good – a defense mechanism. But my daughter is suffering the most right now. She’s my aide full time and she sees the most of the disease and its heartache, pain and emotional breakdowns. She’s going to be taking a break of a few months, she just graduated college, and her boyfriend and her are moving out of state for a few months to “re-center” herself, start a career and a plan for herself and thats what she needs. 22 years old and caregiving for your mom who is also your best friend as been very difficult for her this past year. I will miss her more than words can describe. But we will be reunited by summer as my husband and I move to whereever her career and her heart moves her to. She wants to be with me again, but I think right now she needs this more than she even knows, even though she has expressed it, I think its deeper than even that. I know – I was the caregiver for my dad for 3 years while battling my own disease. It was some of the most difficult times in my life, but also, i wouldnt trade any of it. I miss him dearly.
        This disease is much harder for those who dont have it = they just dont understand. I guess you cant unless you have it, but then if you do, its the expression and communication that comes to be the problem of explaining to others. At least thats what I battle everyday.
        I hope you are doing well. I will talk again soon. Take care and thank you so much for all the information you gave me. I pray someday the Lord will give us the means to travel abroad and hopefully meet my relatives there, or at least see where my grandparents came from and discover more about “me”! 🙂

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        1. Hi Melanie, it sounds like you have so much in your life to cope with right now. I understand about your daughter. I don’t live near mine but try to go and stay when I can with her. She is just starting to accept my diagnosis and be a bit more helpful when I am there. I dread her having to be the ‘mother’ instead of me.

          I love the information about the Sperrings your family, I am guessing there is a lot more out there about them. It is great to have a family originating from one specific place because the history will be more complex. Harder to look at from afar because you can’t visit local churches to look through parish records.

          It also sounds like you could do just nicely on a boat, small and easy to maintain. Close to water that is so soothing.

          I am so please you have connected with me Melanie. 🙂

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  9. I do not know particularly about Alzheimer but I know that meditation helped many in recovering neurological disorders. It is not difficult to learn meditation these days. Kindly let me know if I could be of any help.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for your blog. I’m still catching up on the posts and everything here, but for those of us on the caregiver side of this, it’s important to hear the voice of those that we are journeying this path with. Thank you for being part of that voice!

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