Punctuation malfunction in my brain and my increasing fear of commas.

There are days when I notice my Alzheimer’s seems to be a bit worse and try to remember to record it for my Alzheimer’s Journey.

So, I will get an apology out the way first – sorry if my grammar and punctuation is all over the place but today my brain cells have gone on strike.

Cats woke us up extremely early at 6.30am – little darlings (smiling through clenched teeth :))) ), and I settled in my chair with my coffee to start reading a new book.

Right from the start I found I couldn’t understand the sentence because those pesky little tadpole commas seemed to be in the wrong place.  I read the first paragraph again slowly but it really did not make much difference.  As you know a comma in the incorrect place can put a totally different meaning on sentence but today for me, every comma seems incorrect.

As I write now I am having great difficulty in knowing if I am putting commas in the correct place and it has suddenly become a real issue.  I have no idea why I am stressing about it so much because if I stop maybe the fear of commas will just fade away again!

I am also misspelling words more frequently.  Being a touch typist I have no mental idea where my fingers are on the keyboard; I think and they transfer my thoughts by themselves.  If I had to think about where the keys are or how to form words I would fail to write anything.   Lately what I think is not what my fingers are typing, how can that be?  It is as if the diseased part of my brain has taken on an identity of its own, one which may be a little dyslexic and mischievous.  I can see words forming on the page that I have not even thought about and not even Freudian slips, but words that are incongruous.

I think sometimes that my macbook changes the words as I type and I fail to notice it which leads me on to how I read.

I am finding it really hard to read what I have written and with short term memory problems I usually have no idea what I have written minutes after writing it, so if it gets mixed up on the page I wouldn’t necessarily remember what I was trying to say.  When I am reading it back I am constantly questioning my grammar and punctuation but often than not I have no idea any more if it is correct.

I gave up trying to read my book earlier and thought I would surf the net.  I will read my own blogs from time to time because I don’t always remember what I have written and have a need to check that I have not made any major gaffs.  So, I looked at my latest book review – Broken Monsters, and was horrified to see that it was all over the place with spelling mistakes.  I am sure I proof read it before I posted it but guess now that I cannot trust my own ability to do so, which is why I  go back and re-read it the day after.

It makes me feel so embarrassed to make these mistakes for all to see because it somehow makes me less literate than I used to be (was I ever that literate!).

Dementia is such an insidious disease which is less understood than it should be.   As you can see I am not in the middle or later stages, but at an early stage so I am very aware of these small changes which I cannot do anything about.

Do you judge a blog by its grammar and punctuation?   I used to but now I understand that it is what people are struggling to say that is more important, but are people less likely to read a blog that has grammatical errors in even if the content is interesting?

 

“I feel like something at the bottom of a woman’s handbag”

Saturday – 28th June 2014 – Alzheimer’s Meeting

I was invited to a meeting to form a pilot scheme for younger people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It was quite a way to drive and we got to a place which was in fact in a building in a Chemical Company which supports the charity Alzheimer’s Organisation; their conservatory which is on the side of a very nice cafe/restaurant.

There were workers from the Alzheimer’s Organisation from three different surrounding areas in county and I got to talk to two of them. The are all enthusiastic and clearly caring people.  People arrived gradually until there was a good roomful of people living with dementia and their partners and carers. I initially talked to two of the staff full of enthusiasm and I passed a couple of flyers for Dementia Mentors website which they said they would look at. As others arrived they seemed to know each other I think from another group they attend. The conservatory had tables and chairs set out in a cafe setting and people came in and sat randomly around the room or in groups of friends. Because of how we were all sitting facing some with our backs towards others it was not conducive to chatting and getting to know anyone you didn’t know, which for us was everybody. No sooner everyone had arrived, we were told to split up into three groups and talk about what sort of group we wanted. The friends stayed where they were, others gravitated towards the far side of the room and hubby and I were asked if we would join the table behind us with just two people on because the guy had mobility problems. The guy I shall call Sid clearly had mid stage dementia and did not speak or appear to have awareness of what was going on. His partner on the other hand did not stop talking. We had a worker with us who was going to facilitate this discussion between the four of us.   (All names have been changed to protect peoples identity).

Phil the worker was enthusiastic and started throwing some ideas about for us to talk about and ‘Sally’, Sid’s partner started to talk about what she wanted from the group. I don’t want to see leaflets on tables, she said, I don’t want to hear anything about dementia, I want a social group where we can go out and enjoy ourselves. Right, that is perfectly clear. I am tired, she explained, of everyone talking about dementia, I want somewhere where that is not about illness at all.  (Actually Sally, I think you need a support group for carers and some respite care for Sid, I thought at the time).

I had up until this point given some ideas, discussing a newsletter, learning new things in their new life with dementia, such as photography, cooking, creative writing mini courses, days out doing group photography, walking etc. The more Sally talked the more puzzled I began feeling. Hang on, I thought we were here to talk about a group for people with dementia, at least that is what the conversation I had with the ALZ worker I had met after being diagnosed who said there was no support groups suitable for me. I could not assume that Sally was Sid’s carer and I had to know, so I asked her if she had dementia? No, she answered, I am with Sid. I had this sudden realisation that no-one had asked Sid what he wanted, so I asked him. With his progressive dementia he couldn’t really give an answer, he goes to another day care place and does a lot of memory activities with them, and seem to be confused about where he was as he was talking. He sat not speaking having difficulty holding his mug of tea, Sally telling him to put it on the table before he spilt it down himself. I could see my hubby watching and wondered what he was thinking. Sid did not appear to want to put the mug down, or do as he was being told. Sally was off again saying the things she wanted to do, and I spoke to Sid. ‘Only people with people who have dementia can understand what its like to live with it’ I said to him, and he nodded in agreement. I asked him about the day care he goes to and he tried to talk to me about it. He then said, probably the most important thing that was said in that room “I feel like I am something at the bottom of a woman’s handbag”. Do you mean being here I asked him pointing around, ‘No’ he answered. Ahh you mean all the time I put back to him understanding how he was feeling.

The more I listened to Phil and Sally talking, and hearing the animated voices around the room the more I realised my expectations were far too high and I was not enjoying the experience.

The discussion was over, time was up and it was time to go! Before I left I briefly spoke to a worker and said that I thought it was going to be about people living with dementia wanted, and was a little disappointed to hear so many carers saying what they wanted. “I guess it is about both” was the answer.

Okay, how this meeting made me feel:

  • Angry
  • Silenced
  • Invisible
  • Like being treated like a ‘patient’
  • Cheated
  • UPSET

I thought this was going to be about what we, the people with dementia wanted out of a group for support and social activities that we could do with others, and that includes partners and carers who understand that sometimes we say the wrong thing, behave in a way that may not be quite right.  It is right the partners should be there, but let all those who live with dementia, have their own voice, their own control, and their own place to keep their minds active, not something that is organised by everyone else.

How many websites, groups, and advise site both professional and amateur are there for carers. How many forums are for carers?  Many.  Why is this, it is because what do you think when you hear someone has dementia?  You think of an elderly person towards the end stage of the disease, not always knowing who family is, someone who has lost the understanding of what is happening around them, someone who may be shouting out and being difficult and finding it hard to communicate.

Well that is at the end stage, not the beginning, how do you know that you do not already have some kind of Alzheimer’s in the making? Give it a few years and when you know something is ‘not quite right’, something simple such as your visual perception not working right, not keeping up with work, you will be wondering whats wrong. If.. if that happens and you are in your 40’s, 50’s and 60’s you will want people to treat you as they would want treating themselves, not to talk as if you no longer have a voice or part to play in the control over your own life.   Memory Loss is not loss of intelligence, get it?

I just want to finish saying:

I AM NOT INVISIBLE, I AM INTELLIGENT, I CAN STILL TALK TO YOU, UNDERSTAND YOU AND HAVE A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD.

Please don’t think that by helping our husbands or partners that it equates to giving support to me.

Thank you for listening if you got to the end of this.

Dementia and my Mother

I entered the ward and looked around the four beds searching for my mother.  I saw an old white haired lady lying in a bed moving her head and shouting out incoherently and was momentarily horrified to see that this may be my mother.   I turned around for reassurance from my Dad and husband but somehow I was alone, they had stopped by the nurses station to check it was alright to come in.  Retreating I then followed my Dad back in seeing which of the old women he would go to, the silent ones or the person I believed was my mother, I was not wrong.

My mother has vascular dementia and had been in hospital a week following a deterioration in her physical health, however I could clearly see that her mental health had declined also.

‘Hello, hello’ she is shouting trying to get anyones attention.   ‘Iris’ my Dad says, and she recognises him immediately.  I sit the other side of the bed and tell her I am Gill her daughter.   She looks vacantly at me and then at my Dad who tells her again that I have come to visit her.  ‘Our Gill’, she says with some recognition.

This woman is not the woman I last saw, she had dementia then, but still looked like herself, now she was shrunken, her dead eyes darting everywhere but not on me.  Her hair not combed in the way she like it.  In her hands she holds a small soft toy; a reindeer which the nurses have given her to hold.   She feels safer holding someones hand which she grips with a vice like grip surprising for someone seemingly so frail.

My feelings are so mixed up, this is the woman who damaged my brain punishing me with a ‘smack’ to my head with daily regularity or more.  She forgot she did not like me once she developed dementia and now she is towards the end of her life.  She refuses to have her false teeth in and is incoherent but continues to talk, nobody understanding all the words.  I watch my Father sitting with his hand gripped by her, his head tilted trying to hear with his hearing aid what she is saying.  He fails and just says ‘I’m here Iris, Okay’, then he falls asleep.  Lymphatic Leukaemia makes him tired, the stress of seeing my mother like this makes him weary.

I am listening hard trying to make out vague words as if they are important, as if they are the words I will remember when she has died because this is the first time I have heard her speak face to face in over a year.

She has a pacemaker and a chest infection, her kidneys are not working properly.  Her dementia seems to have got more of a grip on her and she is on oxygen.

I sit.  I touch her.  I have not touched my mother in my life before like this.  I stroke her hand but feel unattached to her.  She looks at me with dull eyes and I don’t know whether she is seeing me or not, or what she thinks if she does see me.  It is too late to talk to her of what she did to me, of how we are, or what she feels about me.  Although somehow I don’t think I ever would.

The nurses come and talk to her, they are kind, they are sensitive, they do not know her like I know her.  But her viciousness has gone…..I see her trying to speak, shouting at the nurse standing at the end of the bed, she is kicking her feet; up and down; I want your attention but don’t know the words to say it – She wants to go home.  That is all that she is interested in, going home.

She knows me and then when the nurses ask who I am she says she doesn’t know who I am.  My father explains that she never sees me very often.  I now have feelings of guilt, but I could not bring myself to visit someone regularly who hates me so vehemently.  I have kept in contact by phone which has maintained my mental safety having spent three years in counselling to overcome the damage she did.

I am sitting there, I am gentle with her, she does not deserve this, but I need this to be like a daughter that has always been part of a loving family.

My Dad on the Sunday we are leaving is ‘off’ with me, I am not sure why.  Maybe this is the old way that they both treated me.  My husband comes down and joins us, there is a conversation which is not conducive to me being a great person.  I ignore it because I know silence is the most powerful tool.  Then I am asked a sexist question so I make it very clear what I think; ‘us women are stupid aren’t we’ I say.  Nothing more, I have made my point that I was listening and that conversation is over.  The subject is changed.

This house is where I grew up being put down emotionally and psychologically.  You are useless, you are stupid, you are a whore.  I was thirteen when my mother told me I was whore.  What is that I thought, I had no idea then.   I left home to escape, to grow into someone who could believe in themselves.  It took me forty years and three years of counselling to get there.

Now I was sitting at the bedside of my Mother, her gripping my hand telling me and all the nurses she loved them.  The pain cuts like a knife.  I have never heard her use the word ‘love’, apart from telling me nobody would ever love me.  Her words feel as empty now as they have always been.

Back at my fathers house ( my old home)  I washed, cleaned, ironed, and tried to make things better before I left to go home.  As we are leaving my Dad says to me ‘I can’t see that she is ever coming back to this house because I can’t look after her’.  There is a sadness when he says this, adding if she ever comes out of hospital.

Family is extraordinarily painful when we have alway been fractured.

 

 

 

Today is another great day

Hubby was sorting out some memory sticks from a cupboard and handed me a pile of mine that I had forgotten I had and on one is some of my photographs that are missing!  I had forgotten I had put some on there so am pleased to have them back. Yay!

Dementia Mentors

Yesterday we had an online meeting for the Dementia Mentors project that I have become involved with www.dementiamentors.com .  This is a site for people WITH Alzheimer’s and Dementia throughout the world, MADE BY people with dementia and Alzheimers.  It is to support people who have been newly diagnosed and show them that we LIVE WELL with these things not suffer from them.

Only people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s knows what it is like to have them so rather than reading a leaflet this site is to reassure the recently diagnosed that we understand and can show that life is just as fulfilling and positive by offering an online meeting with a mentor who really understands.

I did not realise how little there is out in the wide world for younger people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia who still have high cognitive functioning.  Most of the groups and support available is for older and more advanced stages.

Memory Cafe

The last time I saw my Consultant she introduced me to Aileen from the Alzheimer’s Association and we chatted about what support there was available for me which was appropriate, she said she would look into it and get in touch with me.  Today I had a phone call from her to say that she was looking at a pilot scheme for Younger Early onset Dementia/Alzheimer’s people to start a Memory Cafe in the Derbyshire Area.  Brilliant!  I am looking forward to this first meeting to see what it should be like, what do we want out of it.  I do love to get involved in something worthwhile, it gets me fired up with a purpose.

Today is always another day..

 

 

 

 

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.

 

21/03/2014 – Tests to check my eyes

I was summoned to the Treatment Centre to check my eyes.  I had the usual visual field, GDX and another test and all the results were good.  Fabulous! That’s what I always want to hear.  The consultant asked me questions and finally said, I have never heard of the symptoms you are describing, he mused.  Do I look smaller one side to you; no I answered it is usually when I am reading that it occurs, although my perceptions of buildings and road are weird.  I find it fascinating I laughed, and he agreed.  This sounds like a problem with perception and your brain he concluded saying he would write to my Doctor for a referral back to my head consultant, although it would probably be just for notification only.  What an interesting Alzheimer’s Journey this is turning out to be!