When I entitled my 3rd book ‘A Life Once Had’ I did not, for one moment, envisage how ironic that title would turn out to be for me personally. It’s been four weeks since I last blogged and such a lot has happened in that time, and not for the better. Seem to be going through a negative period right now as Hubby is not well again. Since his serious illness last year his health has declined somewhat, but it doesn’t help when doctors keep telling you he’s lucky to be alive after the pneumonia and septicaemia that hospitalised him a year ago. Our own GP said it was the fact he was as strong as an ox that keeps him going, but of late he has had a prostate scare, and now they think he has kidney problems, and to cap it all he is being tested for early onset dementia.
This latter condition creeps up on you, and it’s not until you recognise the changes in personality; all the moments of blankness; all the times he forgets things, that you realise something is wrong. Even our children have noticed a distinct change in their father. His long-term memory is okay, but his short-term memory is poor. A neighbour came to the door last week and when he had gone Hubby said to me, ‘I know his face, but I can’t remember his name’. I suppose the time to really worry is when he forgets my name or the children’s names. But joking aside, it is not pleasant to see a once active man become a couch-potato: unable to carry out the most simple of tasks sometimes. But that is not all down to dementia: it is the illness last year that also seems to have sucked the emotional and physical strength out of him.
It was two days ago when things got really bad. Because he has not been fully diagnosed yet with dementia Hubby insists on driving and because he had a routine hospital appointment that morning he drove down to the park-and-ride, two miles away, to catch the medilink bus to the hospital. Because of other commitments I did not go with him. Later that morning I had a phone call, it was Hubby saying he was at the car park but had lost the car keys and couldn’t get into the car. I have a spare set, but as I couldn’t get down there I rang my son, who I knew was not working that day, and he drove over to collect my car keys to go and assist his father.
My daughter-in-law was with my son when they found Hubby standing rather confused by the car trying to use his mobile phone again. Because he became panicked, he had momentarily ceased to remember how his phone worked. Any person not afflicted by this condition would have retraced their steps, caught the medilink back to the hospital, and asked at the clinic reception if anyone had handed in any car keys. But this logical way of thinking is impaired, which leaves the sufferer in a frustrated and panicked state. They did retrace Hubby’s steps and found them at the clinic he had just visited. It was when we all got back home my son took me to one side and said he should not be driving as they followed him all the way home as he insisted on driving even though my son said he would drive our car back.
Hubby has not driven since that day, and when I had to collect my granddaughter from school the other afternoon he said he would do it. I said I would go, but he insisted. In the end I had to firmly insist and he gave in. It’s these little battles that can be draining, leaving me exhausted having to watch his back all the time. I am also aware he thinks I am nagging him, but I am not. What this condition does is, I have found, that if you say something it takes Hubby some time to compute what has been said, which leaves the person talking to him feeling as though they are being ignored. It is not only difficult for the sufferer to communicate, but for the partner of the sufferer as they also have to try and work out what is happening to their loved one.
Needless to say I have not done any writing for the past four weeks. A half written novel is still waiting to be finished. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I have been told there are some excellent drugs available which reduces the impact early onset dementia has, and once he has been diagnosed fully, we will perhaps get that life we once had, back. I know it will not be back to what it was, but perhaps it will be better for Hubby than it is right now.