This blog has never been about me. It was about Mum while she was still with us, and it’s about her now that she’s not. Today, though, I have a personal sob story of sorts. It’s now more than 100 days since, in a moment of sleep-induced confusion, I mistook the top of a staircase for a bathroom door and tumbled from top to bottom. I was extremely fortunate to escape with relatively minor injuries – a paramedic informed me that he’d attended a similar case a week earlier and had headed for the morgue rather than A and E – but I’m still some way from a full recovery.
At least, though, I know I know I’ll get better. One day soon I’ll be the old clumsy Duncan again, head-bumps as standard. Getting better – it’s not something to take for granted.
Many people never get better or know they’ll never recover. Mum never got better. From the day her diagnosis was confirmed, a month more than nine years ago, she knew what she was facing. It is a blessing that her comprehension of what was happening to her seemed to fade away in the months that followed. Hundreds will receive a similar diagnosis to Mum’s this week and they and those closest to them will begin to live with the consequences.
My enforced convalescence is offering plenty of time for reflection and I have been musing on how Mum must have felt when she received the news on that February afternoon in 2009. I remember how I felt. I recall a conversation with my sister. I remember taking Mum to see her consultant, being told to ask him anything we liked, and not having a clue what to ask. It was like landing overseas with no understanding on the language being spoken. We didn’t know what to say, or how to say it, because we hadn’t visited this frightening place before.
One of the many inspiring people I’ve met since D-for-Diagnosis Day is Tommy Whitelaw who gave up his career to care for his mother.
Check him out – @tommyNtour and http://tommy-on-tour-2011.blogspot.co.uk/. He tells the story of his mother Joan receiving a diagnosis, being told to come back in six months and heading home.
Your life as you know it is going to end – see you in half a year. There are ways of living as positively as possible with dementia, of not letting it define you but there is no cure.
You don’t recover from dementia. I, despite a dented head and a left shoulder which stubbornly refuses to work properly, am truly lucky. I am getting better.