Blog 20: Hard to Imagine

Early in 2010, I began to understand that Bill could no longer think ahead.

When relatives were coming to stay, for example, he did not understand that they were coming, until they had arrived. It didn’t matter that I was making up extra beds or that I was saying: “Your brother will arrive tomorrow!”  Bill could not make meaning out of my words or actions.

Recently, I read an article in The Sunday Mail  (Body + Soul, 10 June, 2012).

It corroborated this new understanding.  It was titled: Dementia Patients Can’t Imagine Future, and it told the reader what I already knew. People with dementia, it said “find it hard to look forward to events or to understand long-term consequences.”

I found this understanding to be particularly touching when, after Bill had left hospital in the April, we started to make plans for attending Matt and Julie’s wedding in May.  Since Bill was still very fragile, I didn’t know whether we would even make it to the wedding, but I determined to think positively and took Bill off to buy new clothes.  I was pleasantly surprised when he withstood, so well, the two-hour ordeal of fitting on trousers and jackets, shirts and ties.  He looked very dapper in his new outfit and I began to think that maybe we were going to get to that wedding after all.

But nothing comes easily when you’re dealing with dementia and, as it turned out, that night was the first of many that saw Bill waking at 2am to go through a bizarre ritual. Each night, when he woke, he would go downstairs, turn on all the lights, retrieve his new clothes from the downstairs cupboard and try to put them on.  Invariably, he would manage to get the shirt on, would get one leg into the trousers and then would contrive to get one arm into the jacket.  The tie would go round his neck correctly but, each night, would have to be secured by several granny knots.  Eventually, he would go to sleep wearing the shirt and tie and I would have to fight to get them off him the next day. That shirt was so dirty around the neck by wedding day that I had to launder it three times before he could wear it.

Bill was, I understand now, trying to sort out what the new clothes were all about.  I had told him about the impending ceremony, how Matt and Julie were getting married and how guests were flying in from all over, but because he couldn’t imagine the future, he didn’t comprehend.  You can imagine my delight, then, when I observed the light-bulb moment that told me that Bill finally understood.  We were sitting in the Chapel, smiling at the wedding party that was standing up on the stage.

“Oh, I know what it is now,” Bill cried.  “But who’s the girl?”

He had known Julie for over three years but he didn’t recognise her, all dressed up in her beautiful wedding gear.

M&J 1

I was so happy that I made it to that wedding.  Bill kept up well and we had a wonderful time.

  1. Louise

    Later he took the time at the wedding reception to remember to complement Julie on her dress and tell her she had done so well. Quite a task when standing next to him was one of the MCs dressed in a chicken outfit.

    March 14th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Your comment helped me remember just how much Bill was still hanging in there in May, 2010, Louise. In spite of the fact that he couldn’t carry on a conversation and a good bit of his brain had shut down, he knew how he should act and what his demeanour should be on such an important occasion. He fought so hard to stay in our world even though he was being pushed, bit by bit, out of it. We do not give those with dementia enough praise for their bravery.

      March 16th, 2013 // Reply
  2. Harold and Nola

    And wasn’t it yet another lovely Wedding, as Aunt and Uncle we were so proud, and so proud of you and Bill, Fay, and the boys and girls [what lovely daughters-in-law you do have, not to mention those grandchildren] and we agree wholeheartedly with Louises comments re complimenting the bride while standing alongside Big bird.

    March 16th, 2013 // Reply
  3. Fay

    It was a lovely wedding, Nola, but quite long, really. Bill was socially on his guard from 10am to 8pm. That’s a long time for someone who is working with half a brain. When we arrived home in the taxi at 8:30pm, Bill looked at Ian and said: “Is this your house?” “No!” Ian answered. “It’s yours.” “No it’s not!” Bill argued.
    Because of the strain of the day, we could see that Bill’s brain was starting to slip and we put him to bed quick smart. When he woke in the morning, he was all right.

    March 21st, 2013 // Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

a blog about my dementia journey


© 2012 Sneek
Powered by WordPress, Endless & Sneek