Friday, 13 January 2012

The Circle Of Life

'I'd like a cup of tea'

'I don't think we're going to find one now Mum. It's four o'clock on a Thursday evening, I think the cafe will be shut.'

'But I want a cup of tea' 

'I know you want a cup of tea but the cafe will be shut now and it's half a mile to somewhere we could get one and I don't think your legs will be up to it.'

I'm taking Flo out for a walk. When I went to visit her she was very agitated and said that she never goes anywhere so I suggested that we stroll down to the newsagents and back which is about as far as she's capable of walking. Our conversation felt like one between a parent and a child - although I have to say that our children were never as persistent as this.

'Why can't I have a cup of tea?'

'Because we can't walk all that way.'

'I want a cup of tea.'

'I'm really sorry but you aren't going to be able to have one until you get back to the rest home.'

'But I want one.'

This continues for five minutes or more and by now I'm desperate to change the subject. 

'Well I'm really really sorry. Next time we'll go in the car.'

'I want a cup of tea. My nose is running. Have you got a hankie?'

My mistake. I've forgotten one but at least the conversation has changed.

'I want a hankie.'

'I know. I'm really sorry. It's my fault but I forgot to bring one.'

'But I need one. I'm sniffing. I want a hankie.'

And so things continue. 

It was a parent/child conversation (at least in terms of the generation gap) but the roles had become completely reversed and reminded me of how Shakespeare described old age so perfectly as  "second childishness and mere oblivion." 

It's very strange to experience this stage of Alzheimer's. Flo can be almost normal one day and on others she can be depressed, angry and agitated. A major problem lies in her being completely aware of what is happening to her and her anger at the inability of the doctors or anyone else to do anything to stop it. I wouldn't wish it on anybody.