*Long post alert*
I have been avoiding putting up blog posts just like my last one for the longest time. I knew it would open a can of worms if I did because then I’d need to talk about other stuff as well. Well, now I think we’re at that place where we might need to talk about the other stuff.
Where do I even start?
I guess I should start by saying that I’m a little … sensitive to conditions such as dementia and Alzheimers. My Nana died from the disease just before Christmas and her decline was so horrific, I never managed to find the balls to deal with it myself. I just watched my poor dad and little sister take the brunt of it all, looking a little bit older and more depressed with each visit.
Not that long ago I worried that my Grandfather might have been showing early signs of the disease. I was quite concerned about it at one point, but my mother reassured me that he was just a cantankerous old man and, for the most part, he was “playing” the memory-loss game. He really is a cantankerous old man, slightly racist, lazy, and cunning and manipulative enough to play the ‘I can’t remember’ card. We’ve all kept an eye on him and it seems that everything is okay. I overreacted, perhaps? But we’re monitoring it anyway … just in case.
Fast forward a year or so and I went to the shops with Bear. He put the basket on the side, asked for a couple of carrier bags, and then started taking things out of the basket and putting them in the bag.
“Excuse me, sir, I haven’t scanned those yet and you’re putting them in your bag.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!”
Bear was mortified, I could see it in his face. It was as though, just for a split second, he’d entirely forgotten how shops worked. He forgotten that the cashier would need to scan the items before he put them in his bag.
On our way back home, he admitted it wasn’t the first time that kind of thing had happened; he’d also left money in the cash machine a few times. On one occasion, someone else grabbed it. Another time, just a few days before that, a friendly chap had run after Bear and given him his forgotten cash.
He told me that he’d forgotten to pay for a few items in a few stores and it was happening more and more frequently over recent years. Not deliberately, jut accidentally. He’d have something tucked under his arm and he’d forget to put it on the counter or he’d just walk clean out of the shop with something in his hand, forgetting it was even there.
It would all be quite funny if it wasn’t so … well, not funny.
Also, where the bloody hell are the security guards? I can tell you where they are: they are following me around the store. Me. With my designer handbag, Tiffany bracelet, iPhone 7 Plus and my beautifully coiffed and coloured hair …
Yeah, sure. I look like the kinda gal who’d shoplift. Pffft. Don’t worry about the slightly scruffy guy with the beard and bomber jacket who’s actually nicking shit. Not that I want to get him into trouble, of course, but y’know.
“I’m a bit worried I’m going to get arrested for shoplifting, you know. My memory has always been quite bad, but it’s getting a lot worse.”
As you can probably imagine, my sensitive little self is freaking the fuck out. We discussed it. I told him that I thought we needed to make a doctor’s appointment. That’s when he said this:
“Oh, yeah, we probably should. I’ve been bleeding out of my ass, and I also think I might be diabetic. I’m asleep all the time.”
Sorry … WHAT?
We have LIVED TOGETHER for 4 months and he has not ONCE mentioned this shit to me. Well, apart from the sleep thing. He’s always napping. I figured I should probably investigate further, so I asked him questions about his memory problems and everything else he’d told me, and we made an appointment to see a doctor who was, quite frankly, fucking useless.
Bear was sent for blood tests. He also had a very traumatic finger up his butt. It was a mild case of piles, apparently, but he was also sent for a camera investigation too. It was every bit as traumatic as you’d think it might have been for him, but I couldn’t help but laugh. I have zero sympathy, but not in a I’m-a-bitch way. I’ve been through it all already. My ass has been invaded by more medical personnel than I care to remember now.
The good news is Bear doesn’t have any bowel related problems, with the exception of IBS and that mild case of piles. He also doesn’t have diabetes. But, for the record, the receptionist lost the results, the hospital said they didn’t have the samples, and then the doctor told Bear that everything was fine. It was only when we chased for a follow-up appointment that the doc told us the REAL news.
Bear’s cholesterol was up and he needed medication for that, plus some vitamin supplements because his calcium levels are down. The doctor didn’t want to worry about the memory stuff because Bear “wasn’t old enough” for that kind of problem. He also informed us that there would have been signs in the blood test results if there had been anything wrong.
“So … what’s causing the memory problems then? Could it be his past alcoholism?”
“Erm … alcoholism … ? Was he an alcoholic?”
It’s a good job I went in with Bear and asked all the questions really. It’s also a good job we asked for that follow-up appointment, otherwise Bear would never have received the medication needed for his high cholesterol. (Which he forgets to take regularly.) The doctor said everything was “fine” on the phone — no need for a follow-up, no medication needed. Tut. Liar.
It’s only the same doctor that Bear has been seeing for the last couple of years. How could he NOT have a clue about Bear’s history? A 20-year alcohol battle that he just quit overnight … ? Surely that’s the kind of thing you’d have a quick read-up of before the patient walked into the room?
We had some more chit-chat about Bear’s symptoms and his alcoholism, and then we were referred. It was time to wait for a letter.
When it came, it was a proper dementia assessment?
To be fair, Bear’s memory is pretty bad. He forgets things every day. At first, we just thought it was general forgetting of stuff but he really can be quite shocking for it. He’ll forget whether or not he’s put sugar in my tea and then put more in, regularly. He’ll forget when he’s making tea, walk off right in the middle of the job, and then return back to it an hour later when it’s gone cold and developed weird lily pads on the top. He’ll forget he’s had a cigarette and then light up another one. He’ll forget to make himself a coffee when he’s making me one.
It’s like he can only handle one simple task at once … but only sometimes. As though there’s another side to him that just doesn’t function that well. He’s not like it all the time.
He forgets to turn the oven off. He’s forgotten to turn the hob off a few times. We had to buy a calendar because he kept forgetting about appointments. Not just when or where the appointment is but the actual appointment itself. We also had to buy a pad for list-making. If he goes to the shop without a list he won’t come back with everything we need. Sometimes he doesn’t come back with any of it. It’s frustrating as fuck but I know it’s not his fault.
He’s forgotten about bills. He’s forgotten about money I lent him. He’s forgotten entire discussions we’ve had, and not just ours, his and his son’s too. I tried to keep a diary of all the little forgetful things that kept happening but there were so many occasions that I ended up with half a document on my phone, another on my laptop, and another list on a pad in a handbag I’ve not used since last month.
And then he collapsed. Yep.
On top of me.
We were arguing. I walked off into the bedroom to calm down and stop the fight before we started name-calling (because I HATE that), he followed me, and then he collapsed right into my arms.
I managed to heave him half onto the bed so that his legs were dangling down, and I talked to him to try and figure out what was going on. His eyes were rolling back in his head. He was murmuring, but nothing that made any sense was coming out. I ran and grabbed a towel before running it under the cold tap because I literally didn’t have a clue what else to do, and I sat with him again.
“Babe, I’m going to call an ambulance. I need you to talk to me.”
He murmured again, something that sounded like a no, and I lightly tapped his face with my hand.
“Talk to me or I’ll go and call an ambulance.”
He did start talking to me but it was a good few minutes before he made any sense. The whole thing lasted about ten minutes in total, from him collapsing to sitting upright on the bed again. I made him lift one arm and then the other, and then I asked him questions – date, prime minister, name of his mum/son/me, etc.
“I think I should call an ambulance. I’m pretty sure that could have been a stroke. I mean, I wrote about all the symptoms a few times a while back … I should call for help.”
He wouldn’t let me. He just kept saying that he’d had a “funny turn” and that he was feeling fine now. He wanted to have a cigarette and a coffee and then he was sure he’d feel as right as rain.
He did, and he was.
But still … there’s this niggling feeling that we shouldn’t have ignored it. His doctor ignored it, though. We tried to tell him the next time we saw him, but he changed the subject. He didn’t feel it was important. He didn’t even tap it into the screen. He brushed it off, mid-sentence … twice.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am stressed to the fucking max. This wasn’t meant to happen. Even if it’s not the worst possible outcome, something is wrong. Something that we are going to need to face. Another fucking problem. Our relationship has been laced with problems. I’m starting to think the universe is trying to tell me something.
His anger and frustration have gotten seriously out of control over the last couple of months, and I know this health situation is affecting him a lot more than he’s willing to admit. He’s super clumsy too, but apparently he’s always been that way. He’s knocked over four drinks in a week. Full drinks too. Most of them coffee – a beer stein full of coffee with about a hundred sugars in. Cleaning that shit out of the carpet is getting really tedious.
I didn’t want to say any of this to anyone until we knew one way or another. We haven’t really told anyone, apart from my mum, and that’s only because I had a snotty meltdown one morning when my freezer malfunctioned and all my groceries defrosted. But you know what the NHS is like: slow as you like. And it’s still another two weeks until we have the at-home dementia assessment. There have been talks of a brain scan and stuff but for right now, we’re just waiting to see what happens.
We’re in limbo right now. I feel like the girl who cried wolf. Nana had dementia, and then I thought my Grandfather might be showing early signs of it, and now my boyfriend – MY FUCKING BOYFRIEND – is having an assessment and potentially a brain scan to determine whether or not his memory loss is due to dementia. Or maybe long-time alcoholism. Maybe there’s nothing wrong? Maybe I just need to accept that this is what he’s like?
I love this man very much. I’m not with him because I don’t want to date again, or because I feel I should be with him; I’m with him because I very much want to be. I know his behaviour IS seemingly emotionally abusive right now, but I sorta feel like this post explains a lot of it. I also want you to know that this behaviour is not normal for him. He’s quite controlling — I hold my hands up to that — but this, right now, is something else.
I almost feel like now I’ve started blogging about this, I won’t stop. I’m so sorry if this takes over, in advance. I’m frightened. I can’t express to you how happy this man makes me. Everyone who knows us knows that we are the cute, adorable couple we show on Instagram. He really is my best friend. The thought of all of the above … I can’t even think about any of that right now. I wanted to make plans to marry this man and have a baby with this man. Not right now, obviously, because I’m not stupid. But he was my for-real deal. He IS my for-real deal. I’m taking this one day at a time, and I’m dealing with him and all of his temper tantrums as best I can along the way.