We’re just back from visiting my parents in Cumbria. As an only child, I wanted my parents to move closer when their health started to deteriorate but they wanted to stay put, which I understand but I’m now into my 32nd year of travelling up and down the UK motorway network for the 780 miles round trip.
My dad has Alzheimer’s. He was diagnosed over 10 years ago and its an incredibly disressing disease. If there is a positive to come out of it its that Dad doesn’t have a filter anymore. I sometimes don’t have a filter either but at least Dad has an excuse. I’ve got used to the fact that I lost the Dad I’d grown up with many years ago but he’s still extremely funny, especially without the filter. Dad loves photographs; not recent ones as he hasn’t a clue who he’s looking at as Alzheimer’s affects the short-term memory; but all the old photos still bring a smile to his face. When we arrived on this recent visit, there was a new photo on the mantelpiece, one that neither Jamie nor I recognised. It was a photo of a football team, probably from around the 1930’s. Picking up the photo and sharing it with Dad I said, “who’s this photo of Dad”. Looking very carefully at each of the twelve faces Dad eventually said, “I haven’t a clue, probably all the fancy men your Mum sees behind my back”! We all had a right giggle and thankfully Mum was out on the room. Its so important to laugh with Dad and not at him and, like with all my family, I’m incredibly defensive of him.
It’s the same when we take my parents out for dinner. It’s recommended you carry a small card explaining you’re with someone who has Alzheimer’s. This can be passed discretely to a staff member when you arrive but Mum doesn’t like to use it. This means we all end up holding our breath in case of any inappropriate comments. Dad’s also started to speak German to the bar staff in a funny Basil Fawlty type voice but as he only knows three words it does become a little repetitive. He also does a bit of shoplifting now and again so trips to the Co-Op are interesting. It’s mostly booze, chocolate or pepperoni pizza he’s interested in so he still gets his priorities right.
Jamie’s Dad suffered with Alzheimer’s as well. Fred is no longer with us but we shared some giggles with him too. He read the same chapter of Ian Botham’s autobiography 100’s of times and hid in the back garden shed when everyone was frantically looking for him. Eventually he had to go into a home and one of the nursing staff found his escape kit behind the toilet. It consisted of some string, a very sharp razor blade, money, a penknife and many other useful gadgets you would use for your getaway. We didn’t know Fred had a good left hand either until he decked one of the other male residents who was annoying him; Fred, like my dad, definitely didn’t have a filter either.
On a more serious note, its an incredibly distressing disease, perhaps more so for close relatives, especially the spouse. It’s the charity that Jamie and I always support and my daughter ran the London marathon for the Alzheimer’s society too. Medical advances are being made; experts are cautiously hopeful about developing Alzheimer’s treatments that can stop or significantly delay its progression. A growing understanding of how the disease disrupts the brain has led to potential Alzheimer’s treatments that short-circuit basic disease processes. Here’s hoping..
On a less serious note, the bloody mice came back. We were full of hope as they hadn’t materialised for nearly 2 weeks after Shane’s visit but our hope was short-lived. On the night they returned, they were incredibly loud! I’d no idea that mice could make so much racket. Shane came back and parked his large car complete with the pest control logo on the front drive. He dug a large trench in the muddy soil next to the white wall of our house, hopefully it will clean off. He found their home buried deep beneath the soil. Shane explained that mice burrows are often expertly camouflaged to keep predators out and their little underground houses feature multiple rooms to allow them to store food and nest comfortably. It spurred Jamie and I on to do the landscaping that had been waiting until the warmer weather arrived. We’ve moved about two tonnes of soil; laid weed membrane and we’re now waiting for our delivery of hardcore and pebbles to complete the project. Try getting out of that Mr Mouse!
Finally, this month I’m happy to report that after the little hitch following my FFS flippancy, me and my Rheumatologist are back on track, albeit by telephone. I’m wondering what stage Covid will need to get to before I meet him face to face again. I do see other people at the hospital when I go for my bloods and MRI scans but not my Rheumatologist, he still prefers chatting to me on my mobile; perhaps we’ll progress to FaceTime soon.
I don’t know about you but I’m finished with Covid, its gone onto my FFS list. I’ve had three jabs, a dose of Covid and now they tell me I can still get Omicron. In 2024, we’ll have had Foxtrot, Hotel, India and Juliet and we probably heading towards Romeo. You can just imagine the conversation
“Have you had Romeo or Juliet yet?”
“No, not yet, but I’ve had Viktor and Zulu”
On that note, I’d better go before I get into any more trouble,
Until next time..xxxxx