Alzheimer's disease has been a diagnosis Norm McNamara has faced with courage, wit and advocacy. His diary entry for September, Alzheimer's Awareness month, follows.
A Typical Day with Alzheimer’s
I open my eyes and look round the room; it seems vaguely familiar but the memories of last night’s nightmares come thundering back into focus. Why is it if I have Alzheimer’s disease, I can always remember the nightmares? Just doesn’t seem fair. I turn and look at my darling wife, her eyes still shut in silent and peaceful sleep. I often wonder if she really knows how much I adore her and if I have told her I love her recently. I’m sure I have on a daily basis but did I really say it out loud? I hope so.
My wife has always had a sixth sense and opens her eyes just as I am whispering “I love you” She smiles, and says “I love you too”
I am now sitting in my front room trying to put the telly on. A simple task for most but it seems to be a bit more of a struggle lately for me. Eventually with more luck than judgement it’s on but now I don’t know why I have put it on and have no interest in it anyway, the telly goes off.
Breakfast arrives and all is good in the household. We always sit at the table for every meal and brought our children up the same way. I can remember this as clear as day but what I had for tea last night is a complete mystery.
We go out at about eleven after taking all my medication and my wife takes me to the seafront for a walk. It’s wonderful; walking along the seafront and I love to see all the families having a great time. A car horn beeps and I jump out of my skin and start shaking, why does everything seem so loud? My wife says I have has enough walking for one day and we make our way back to the car. When we were courting we used to walk everywhere and hardly used the car. I know that my wife would love to walk for miles and miles but can’t because of me and my heart failure. Sometimes it’s me who feels a failure but I never tell her that, she has enough to put up with.
I spend some time of the afternoon on the computer with my friends. This is getting harder and harder each day. I sometimes feel so guilty as I know their partners/wife/clients are a lot worse than me and my problems are only tiny compared to theirs.
As late afternoon approaches I start to get a little fidget and more confused than earlier, it’s a strange feeling but the only way I can explain it is like having a fog descend in front of my eyes and in my brain. As the day goes on I seem to get more confused and yet sometimes I can be ok all day!! It’s so confusing. Tea (or evening meal/Dinner if you come from south ofManchester) arrives and as tired as I am I eat it and hopefully settle down for the night.
The doorbell rings and again I jump though the roof. I hear my wife saying hello to someone and to my dismay it’s not a door to door salesman but someone called Tony who used to work for me. My wife was so quick to point this out and as I rise from my chair I try to put on a friendly face when deep down I have absolutely no idea who it is. I’m quite good at this now and can hold a conversation without ever saying a name, but it has taken practice!! LOL… After he shakes my hand he decides to give me a “Man Hug” Good God!! Do I usually do this? Is this now common practice amongst employer and employees? I’m sure it’s not but then I remember that I don’t work anymore and a huge feeling of sadness envelopes me.
After what seems like hours but my wife tells me it’s only an hour my “new” friend leaves and says his goodbyes but I dodge the “man hug” thankfully. I sit there trying to recall all the things we “apparently” did at work but to no avail. I look round my front room and seem to recognise less and less as the day goes on. It’s like dying very slowly and not wanting to.
Bedtime arrives and I am stumbling round now, feels like I am drunk but without the pleasure of alcohol in my system. Once again my darling wife is with me and helping me to undress and get ready for bed. I take my night time medication, so many tablets to take in the course of a day…
I crawl into bed and the last thing I think about is “Please God… no nightmares tonight!!
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