Though, in 2005, as I have said, there was nothing to indicate problems afoot, when I look back, I can see that there were signs.  There were signs, but they didn’t seem all that important to me.  They were all to do with speech.  Physically and mentally, Bill seemed fine in every way, but he was having significant problems with language.  Often, he could not recall nouns when he needed to.  Thingy, thing-a-ma-jig, you know, this one here, became common substitutes for nouns and, if he wanted to tell you about a route that he had taken in the car, he would say:

“You go up there and around and then down …… and you keep on going over….. and then you turn and go up again.”

The listener would be craving a noun, ready to pounce on one ….. on anything ….. that would place him at the scene,  but it never came.  In his head, Bill would have been driving around round–a-bouts, and up and down hills, and turning left and right into certain streets but, in 2005-6, he could never find the language to explain the route in words.

Although I was concerned about Bill’s problem with language, I didn’t know what to do about it.  I found it easier to put it all down to “old age”.

“Everybody over sixty finds it difficult to recall nouns at one time or another,”  I told myself.  “Bill’s just a bit worse than the rest of us.”

For the most part, thankfully, kind and patient family and friends could work out what Bill was talking about and, if they couldn’t, they learned to nod and say  “Yes” at appropriate points in the conversation.  That got them through and satisfied Bill.

So, as 2005 turned into 2006, Bill and I went on with our lives.  There was much to live for …. a grandchild to fuss over, a trip to Tasmania to be planned and various things to be done around the house.  Bill always had a house project on the go and landscaping our gardens would be his next venture.

  1. Fay

    It is very moving for me to reread my words about Bill again and to remember him having those problems with language.

    December 18th, 2012 // Reply
  2. Sharon Hendy-Moman

    Fay, I remember Mum and Dad telling me this. 2005 seems so long ago now. I would have thought the same as you. Just old age.

    December 22nd, 2012 // Reply
  3. Fay

    Thank you for taking the trouble to comment, Sharon. I know you are very busy and think it is just great that you can find the time to read Bill’s story.
    We are posting more BLOGS soon so I hope you will be able to keep following.
    Many thanks,

    January 7th, 2013 // Reply
  4. Suzi Carson

    I think it takes a great deal of courage and fortitude to revisit this journey- to face the ‘techno world’ of blogging, and to actually prepare this story and all the associated information that you have so carefully sifted through, Fay. And I know you have the years of unfolding with the research as you and Bill walked through the unmapped journey that a journey such as this is.
    And I remember Bill while I read- AND I discover more about him that I didn’t know.
    My hat comes off in great respect to this story which you have written in a way that to start reading is to be pulled into reading more!

    January 15th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      It has indeed been an extraordinary journey Suzi. And the funny thing is that I don’t think that I could write it now. I was there in the moment and I wanted Bill’s story told. I wanted people to feel a little bit of what it must have been for him ….. of how it is for all people who go through this. And I’m lucky I did it when I did, because now, having moved on a bit, I don’t think that I could write it.

      January 21st, 2013 // Reply
  5. Dave

    So glad you did write it – that moment was there and you took it. The moving on bit is good too. Maybe you got it right …

    January 22nd, 2013 // Reply
  6. Sonia Hendy

    I remember those conversations with Bill and saying “yes” at which I thought were the appropriate times. He always had a smile but I often wonder what he was really thinking. He seemed to respond to children and make a fuss over them so how great he had a new grandchild to admire.

    January 28th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      And when Bill was in Papua New Guinea in 2008, Sonia, working on a Rotary project, he got on well with the local New Guinean workers in much the same way as he got on well with children. He had always got on well with the people of Papua New Guinea but I think that, on that trip, they were even more important to him than they were in those early days because, as a person with failing language skills, they provided him with the social contact that he craved. He often couldn’t have that social contact any more with his own countrymen because he could no longer speak their language fluently enough. But he felt comfortable with the new Guinean workers, who themselves spoke English as a second language. As he did, all the way through his journey with dementia, he found ways to compensate for his losses. So, he enjoyed contact with little children who didn’t yet have perfect language ……. made friends with people who forgave him his language imperfections because they themselves spoke English imperfectly …… conversed, whenever he could, with dogs and birds.
      I think that is why experts advise dementia patients to get a dog. In a small way, being able to talk to the dog, fills in a hole.

      February 13th, 2013 // Reply
  7. Harold and Nola

    We will definitely keep on reading and are printing off each episode.

    March 16th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      There are 54 Blogs in all, Nola ……. a costly task printing it all off. But, then again, here and there, I like to refer to the hard copy, too. There’s something about a hard copy of anything, isn’t there?

      March 19th, 2013 // Reply

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