I don’t generally throw my arms around complete strangers and tell them I love them but yesterday I did just that, and I was sober! The emotional out burst occurred in a very busy NHS hospital car park. I had spent over 40 minutes driving round and round and finally had a complete meltdown. The recipient of my emotional embrace was a charming car park man, who, clearly realising that he was dealing with a neurotic menopausal woman on the verge of a complete breakdown found me a free parking space in front of the private hospital! I was at said hospital trying to visit a friend who had been admitted for a fairly routine operation, expecting to be in for 3-5 days but was now facing a 3 weeks sentence at least!! He has sadly had few visitors and now I know why!! I expect a number of them just gave up looking for a parking space and drove home again. Anyway, it did make me wonder how people with dementia cope in these type of circumstances. One of the car parks I was directed to by another well-meaning car park man was long and thin with cars parked on both sides but with no exit and only one entrance which was barrier operated!! Once in, it was very difficult to get out! I did wonder if I was going mad at one point but a number of other drivers got out of their cars and we were all scratching our heads together and had to stop cars entering to enable our exit even though none of us had managed to find a parking space.
Anyway, I digress. Robert is away sailing again this week so I drove over to Mums by myself. I listened to a comedy series entitled Relativity on radio 4 during the journey which is normally very funny but in this episode the family made the Christmas visit to Grandmother in her care home. I must say I shed a few tears during the journey!
I arrived at mid day and Mum was sitting in her chair in front of the TV. She appeared to know who I was but had no idea of the day ( Saturday?) or the month ( March?). When I told her it was September 20th she did remember that it had been someone’s birthday yesterday. My father would have been 90. I chatted to her about my week and the dreadful hurricanes in the Caribbean and the earth quake in Mexico but I am not sure how much she took in. I redid her nail varnish and gave her a glass of sherry before lunch arrived. I helped her eat her lunch and then gave her one of Mr Kiplings french fancys before her dessert arrived. We watched the BBC news and she asked me a few times if the earth quake was in Mexico.
We also sang a few songs from the first world war which I have been learning with my choir. She was able to sing along to ‘My Old Man’, ‘Mother Kelly’s doorstep’ and ‘The boys from the old Brigade.’
Her pudding arrived but after a few mouthfuls she suddenly grimaced and declared that she needed the loo. I called for the carers who arrived within 5 minutes but unfortunately it was too late. We somehow managed to get her on to the commode and they then sorted her out. I will not say any more apart from the fact that liberal doses of Chanel number 5 were employed and it was not long before she was back in her chair.
I tried to get her to understand how important it is to try and exercise her legs as much as possible and to try not to sit with her right foot so inverted but it was a bit like talking to a brick wall. She does not have the capacity to understand that she cannot stand or walk and indeed told me that she had been going to go for a walk down town this afternoon!
Having listened to the radio programme earlier I decided to try out some of their mental exercises they tried with ‘ Grandmother’. I told Mum we needed to exercise her brain. “can you add 10 and 5? ” “15” she replied in an instant. ” How about 3 x5?” I asked. ” 15″ came back the reply. ” 9X9?” “81” she replied but then suddenly became very sleepy and her eyes started to close. I realised I had worn her out!
Maybe we will do some more exercises next week.