Blog 8: LIVING with the FEAR

Nonetheless, we moved into 2008 happily and planned to take trips … around New Zealand, in February, where Bill caught up with his favourite aunt, after not having seen her for forty years …..

a second out to Camooweal, on the Queensland and Northern Territory borders, to visit Matthew, who was teaching there …..

a third to Europe for the month of July …..

and a fourth to Papua New Guinea in September as a member of a Rotary team that was building classrooms there ……

In spite of the fact that nouns kept eluding Bill and other mind losses became evident as the year progressed, that year actually went pretty much according to plan.

In between the holidays, we continued on with our speech therapy program and paid many visits to the doctor on Bill’s behalf.  These visits were made sometimes for something quite trivial, like a headache (which was diagnosed as sinusitis) or sometimes for something much more major. For example, Bill believed he was feeling pain in his face on the left cheek and he worried that a previously removed skin cancer was growing again.  We traipsed off to the hospital for an ultrasound, then an X-ray and finally an MRI.  They all, thankfully, came up negative, we breathed a sigh of relief and, for a while, everything was fine.

It wasn’t long, however, before Bill started to worry again.  This time he was worried about dry patches and little, white areas on his scalp.  He was afraid that they were caused by something rotting inside his brain.  Various medical experts told him that it was not possible for that to happen.

“Put Lanolin on it,” they advised. “That’ll fix it.”

But Bill only half believed them.

The fact of the matter was that, though he never voiced it, Bill was frightened.

And, why shouldn’t he be?  He knew that something was going drastically wrong in his brain.  He was crying out, silently, for help but, more and more, it seemed, no one could help him.

I was crying out silently, too.  Little behaviours, completely uncharacteristic of my traditional, conservative husband, were starting to bother me.  On occasions, he would eat the steak and three vegies course of a meal with his dessertspoon and, when we were in Miles, returning from Camooweal, he walked through the main street of town bare footed.  He was difficult, too, when we visited The Stockman’s Hall of Fame. He was around it and out the door in half an hour, whereas I wanted to read.  There was a lot to read ….. so much of interest.  I didn’t realise it then ….. should have, but didn’t ….. but, at that stage, in May 2008, Bill, who had set himself the goal, on retirement in 1996, of reading every book in the local library, was fast forgetting how to read.

  1. Fay

    Looking back, I think these were the hardest days ….. the days when he knew that something was going wrong and no words any of us could say could give him confidence that he would be his old self again soon.

    December 18th, 2012 // Reply
  2. Mrs Nancy Lindsay

    I ” felt” Bill’s fear when things were happening in his head and he wasn’t convinced that anyone could help him.
    It is commendable that you, Fay, made life as normal for him as possible, continuing to fulfill your travel plans, even when the doing so caused you stress.

    December 30th, 2012 // Reply
    • Fay

      Hello Nancy,
      All I can say is: “You, of all people, know what it’s all about. You did it yourself, didn’t you?”
      It’s that old story that Abraham Lincoln and later George VI told ….. The story that tells of the older boy carrying the younger one up the steep hill. As the passer-by observed, he commented to the older boy that it must be hard work. But the older boy answered, in a voice even and steady: “No, Mister …. He ain’t heavy …… He’s my brother.”
      Love, Fay

      January 21st, 2013 // Reply
  3. Sharon Hendy-Moman

    I’m so glad you went on your adventures that year. Although Bill must have been terrified, the pictures show of a smiling sensitive and intellegent person.

    January 7th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      And, would you believe, Sharon, Bill really eagerly wanted to go on all those trips and was very much the force behind us going to Camooweal. He was still, in 2008, much the same person that he had always been and I think that he wanted to go on that trip partly to prove to himself that that was the case. Fay

      January 21st, 2013 // Reply
  4. Suzi Carson

    I know others who enjoyed Bill’s company on your travels, and it sounds to me like Bill gained a good deal from these visits. I think that it sounds like he really enjoyed the trip to Europe, as a way of remembering your special time/(?s) there in the past.

    January 15th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      I think that is true, Suzi, and I think that Bill was also, at that time, in the business of proving to himself that, even though he was losing literacy and numeracy abilities, he was still able to function in the world as he had always done. So the trips were a welcome validation in a way. Fay

      January 21st, 2013 // Reply
  5. Sonia Hendy

    I can’t begin to imagine who it must have felt to know you were declining and even though you worked hard, the decline continued. How hard you worked Fay, to keep life “normal” and happy for Bill.

    January 28th, 2013 // Reply
  6. Harold and Nola

    Oh, there is one thing we can really come on board with: fear!
    We all feel it, the sometime silent panic within, the awfulness of ‘not knowing’.
    However, there was one thing Bill did have that must’ve held him in good stead.
    And that: a good and steady, deep faith in his God.

    March 16th, 2013 // Reply

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