It is my birthday today. I am 55. I thought I would share with you why I have started to write.
My dad died in the summer this year. He had been diagnosed with dementia in the early part of 2016. As a family, we first recognised the signs in December 2015. My sister and mother committed him to a care home in April of this year. His last connections to memory through his environment were taken away from him, and it accelerated his rate of decline. He died before the end of June.
He had vascular dementia. The support received from the Alzheimers charity who help, inform and signpost carers and families coping with all forms of dementia was priceless. They gave us an indication of what to expect and even an optimistic prospect of the journey taking 6-8 years. They warned it would be difficult and was not the same for everyone.
In a matter of around 18 months this illness called dementia ravaged my dad and robbed him of his vocabulary, then his speech, it took his dignity leaving him doubly incontinent, he lost his place in time, and in the end, he lost his life.
I have led a very full life. It has been a cross between a roller coaster ride and a series of car crashes. In my current circumstance, I have nothing, having filed for bankruptcy in January 2014. I live in social housing and because of series of debilitating illnesses can only work part-time. In my life, I have been a very heavy social and private drinker. I would describe myself as a functioning alcoholic.
There is damage to my short-term memory. I have had to put in place strategies to ensure, I switch off the cooker, lock the door and take the right medication at the appropriate time. The issue with my short-term memory is likely to have arisen because of years of alcohol consumption.
My fear is that of losing my memory entirely. Currently, I am no more than the sum of its content. So I started to write about me, about my thoughts, beliefs and recently about my love of cooking. Initially, it was just going to be a file saved on my computer.
I decided to share it all because I live a solitary life. In writing, and some of the stuff I write being published I no longer feel alone. In the last couple of months, writing has become more than a repository of who I am. It has developed into a passion and a pleasure. It is a new journey that is a positive in my life. I needed a hobby, and this has become a very welcome distraction, through which I have recalled and re-experienced aspects of who am and explored my connection to the world I live in.
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