By June, 2006, Bill was into the last stage of the landscaping, putting little, white stones into a narrow, rectangular garden bed that was on one side of the pool.  He did this by transferring the stones from the trailer into rice bags, putting each bag on to a trolley and then trundling it down to the pool.  Once he was there, he had to lift the bag down to the garden and pour the stones into the bed.

That afternoon, when I arrived home from school, Bill said to me, quite proudly:

“See if you can lift that ….. (indicating a 60 x 30cm rice bag full of stones).

That’s what I’ve been lifting all day.”

Of course, I couldn’t even budge the bag one centimetre off the floor and, when I peered over the pool fence to see what had been accomplished, I could see that Bill had been working excessively hard all day.  The garden was almost finished and looking beautiful.

It was later that night, after we’d both gone to bed, that it started ….. pain,  severe pain,  reaching from the top of Bill’s head, down his back and then to his waist.  It tortured him all night.  We thought that he must have pulled a muscle lifting those bags through the day.  We certainly did not think stroke.

As early as he could in the morning, Bill took himself off to the doctor.

She said it was probably a pulled muscle but tested for stroke anyway.

“Push my hand!” she demanded and Bill pushed her back so strongly that she nearly fell over.

“Say:  My name is Bill,” she continued, and Bill repeated the sentence word for word, no slurring.

She looked at his face to discern any drooping and there was none, though Bill did sport a beard, which would have made that task more difficult.

Now, in 2012, however, I understand this:  That all through his journey with vascular dementia, Bill never did exhibit the usual indicators of stroke that doctors look for.  Yet, looking back, I can see that it was almost certainly stroke that Bill experienced that night.

The doctor was suspicious, too, particularly when Bill told her about his problems with speech.  She sent him for a brain scan.  It showed, the radiologist said, that Bill’s brain was dotted with areas of plaque, though possibly not a lot more than exhibited by many men of Bill’s age.

A geriatrician would later declare this reading of the X-ray to be grossly understated.

Bill in the garden at our former house.

  1. Fay

    I often wondered, as I wrote this, whether we could have stopped Bill’s decline at this point if we had recognised that this attack that he had had was indeed a stroke.

    December 18th, 2012 // Reply
  2. Suzi Carson

    I like this photo- S

    January 15th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Yes, it’s typical Bill, that photo, Suzi, isn’t it? Just like your father, he was always working. Fay

      January 21st, 2013 // Reply
  3. Dave

    Am having difficulty understanding where all the boys got that slightly stooped back posture from!

    January 20th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Haven’t you noticed, David. It comes from your mother.

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

    How terrible it all was, we have many friends in our over fifty-five village who could possibly benefit from these blogs.

    March 16th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Please pass the website on to them, Nola, if you think that Bill’s story would interest them. That’s why I’ve written it. I want as many people as possible to read it in the hope that it will help us all understand a little better.

      March 20th, 2013 // Reply

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