Alzheimer’s and living

Sometimes, on a good day, I find it hard to believe I have Alzheimer’s.  I question whether I have ‘dementia’ as a symptom.

Of course it doesn’t last long the wonder and the doubt, because I looked at how confused I get at certain times, and the lack of memory intake of recent information amongst other things.

What I am understanding is how I can never be seen as totally ‘normal’ and I then think how can anyone want to be friends with me knowing that I am slightly broken?   I think I have always been a person who spends a lot of time alone, feels comfortable with my own company.  Sometimes that can be a sort of a silent world, when I have no radio, tv or music on.  The silence feels okay and I don’t feel lonely, but I do worry that it is my way of retreating from a world that I have always felt not quite at home in.  That is of course, the dyspraxic part of me speaking, but it has an impact on how my Alzheimer’s is.

When my ability to be coherent and indeed, sensible in my thoughts, ideas and speech shines it is difficult to see any brain disease.  But, I know it’s there.   I know my vision is currently a problem.  Patterns are beginning to dazzle, confuse and mislead me into being cautious of levels of flooring.  Steps where there are no steps in changes of colours, missing steps where there are steps because of the lack of contrast.  This is all new for me, and quite I feel quite shocked by it.  How can I mentally feel so alert and normal still and be affected by these Alzheimer’s symptoms at the same time.  I am grateful that my progress is still slow and is more physical than mental.  I am fascinated by all this and would love to be able to have an MRI or scan or something that I can look at and see exactly what parts of my brain have ‘holes’ now.  I loved the neuroscience part of my Psychology degree and if I had the energy I would really like to read current thinking on it!

I have been reading books again which is good.  I took my kindle on holiday to Cuba, yes Cuba! and read about 6 books, lying in the shade on the beach in over 30 degrees heat!

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Going through airport check in can be a problem now as they try and hurry you but I can’t be hurried anymore, the more they chivy me along the more flustered I get.  I should have learnt the word for dementia in Spanish before I went!  Booking assistance is a bit hit and miss and not really available/understood in some countries.  However, I love travelling still and don’t want to stop until I physically have too.

I loved Cuba and its people who have been shielded from a totally consumer driven lifestyle.   They are friendly and if they stop to talk to you in the streets, they are not trying to sell you anything, they just want to chat.  The county is lovely but like stepping back in time in parts with oxen ploughing fields, although there are tractors too.  Cubans are proud of their country and who they are and I feel deservedly so.  Their political history fascinates me and I realise that I hardly knew anything about it other than the words: Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, revolution and Communism, and that says very little.  We had a private taxi and a guide who was so knowledgeable and spoke with an Eton accent!  He laughed telling us he had no idea how when learning English in school he managed to get his posh accent!  Us British are so embarrassingly poor at learning languages, why the heck don’t we take pride in pushing languages in schools?

Being in Cuba did not present a problem for me at all, I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone, I didn’t need to.  I think the simplicity of these countries do not have visual difficulties of shiny floors, fancy patterns etc.  To my mind we have become like magpies obsessively attracted to a complicated shiny world.  Bring back simplicity in architecture, and design both inside and out I say!

I can still travel the world making memories of being in these places that sticks in my mind and live well with the brain disease Alzheimer’s.

 

 

 

A new Dementia Arts group

Oh I have been busy recently.  From the initial funding and group set East Durham Creates of Silk Painting for people and carers of dementia, additional funding has been found to continue the group which we are now calling Making Art Time.  I say funding was ‘found’ but it is never as simple as that is it, Nicola from The Barn at Easington has been the most wonderful advocate for our group and she sourced the funding for us.  Her hands on approach to art is amazing and addictive and we have been immersing ourselves in creating from nature.   With walking in the Dene (woods) collecting leaves, berries and anything that takes our eye, reading poetry whilst sitting on fallen trees, we have embraced natures peace in our dementia journey.  

For me it’s quite spiritual being in a wood in autumn when the leaves are a mass of reds, golden with a variety of browns and greens.  There is a wonderful silence that you can only experience in a wood or forest, with occasional natural sounds of cracking, shuffling and a bird or two singing.

One day we created shapes and pattens on the floor of the wood amongst the trees using moss, logs and leaves; skewered coloured fallen leaves on broken twigs and hung them amongst the brown branches.  

It felt like being a child again.

In January our group is creating a wall banner of mixed media, representative of the group.  

The most important thing is that I love going to this group.  It is not noisy in the sense that it could be overwhelming.  We talk, laugh, exchange thoughts, ideas and most of all we understand each other.  It is comfortable to be amongst company who may need to ask what day it is, or what we did last week, or who is picking us up.   

 

One of my last rose heads, with sea glass leaves and seeds arranged and preserved in a layer of bees wax.
An arrangement of wax dipped autumn leaves and berries collected from woods, with a pigeon feather.  Mounted on a round slice of branch originally used as a prayer message (written on underside) from local church.

An arrangement of wax dipped autumn leaves and berries collected from woods, with a pigeon feather.   Mounted on a round slice of branch originally used as a prayer message (written on underside) from local church.


This is a piece of textile are that I have done at home.  It is a leaf hand sewn onto hand dyed cotton.
Needle weaving to complete damaged edges on the leaf. Seed stitch around edge, with a two spot ladybird.   It represents my dementia with the holes in the leaf repaired. The seeds around are memories which are scattering but not yet gone.

Disaster on the software/hardware front!

It struck after getting a new computer.  The question was how to transfer photos and documents from my Asus to my new Macbook Pro – yes a luxury that I already love.  I have most of my photos backed up on a Toshiba external drive and needed to format my drive to be FAT or whatever, so copied the files back to my Asus…………….but instead of adding them it didn’t.  Did it overwrite the files? No and I have no idea quite what it has done.  My original files are there, well most of them but my ‘story’ I have been writing (70,000 words so far) has gone, the only copy left is from October 2013 😦

I am mortified, both my writing and my photos have gone, so much for having kept them safe on an external drive.  All my wedding photos but  thank goodness Mr Hsg has got as many as I had.  Apart from the pieces I have posted on here, with my memory problem I will never be able to rewrite what I have lost.  I thought it was safe keeping it on an external drive but no, I should have printed them all out, you can never beat paper copies.

There is no point in being upset, I have to try and continue using what is left.  I have a file with photos that I had include in my writing so can guess what I was writing about and start again.  I will never remember anything I have written without them.

Onwards and upwards.