Today’s topic may come as a bit of a surprise. I love talking about makeup and beauty.. you know, the superficial things in life. The materialist things that I enjoy. It’s not often that I speak up about personal things that are close to my heart, or topics that are real and mean something. Today will be that one rare day. If you haven’t guessed by the title, Dementia is an illness that is very close to my heart. Why am I writing this post? I rarely open up or want to share the less than lovely details on my blog. I want this place to be happy and an escape for myself, or any of you, from the more real things that may be going on in our day to day lives. As some of you may or may not know, I recently started my new job and since starting that new job I have been doing a lot of thinking. There are so many things I have on my mind, and the easiest way for me to get it off my chest is by writing. A little rant if you will. So that is why I am sharing this with you all. I don’t expect anyone to even read this, it is just my way of talking about what is inside my head and getting it all out there.
Some of you may have never heard of dementia. It is a brain disorder that effects your memory. Well, at least that is how I was always told. The simpler version of a very complex disorder. My Nan was diagnosed with dementia over 6 years ago, I was very young when she was diagnosed but I always remember her being forgetful. At first it was something to giggle about, when you were asked five times how many sugars you wanted in your tea and then nearly spitting your tea out when it was 85% sugar. As a young child I never understood fully. My dad always tried to explain to me that Nan’s memory would gradually get worse and she eventually wouldn’t remember anything. I never expected this to mean that she wouldn’t know who I was until I got a little older and my dad could start to explain it in a little more detail.
| My Nan & Great Auntie |
Of course, everyone has to deal with certain illnesses in themselves or family members/friends at some point of their lives, big or small. If you don’t then you are so incredibly lucky. I do want to point out however, I am not saying that dementia is the worst possible thing to ever happen to anybody ever. Of course there are so many other health issues that are so beyond heartbreaking, cancer, heart attacks, mental disorders being just a few of them. What I am trying to say is that each separate illness can be heartbreaking in their own way. Cancer is heartbreaking for obvious reasons. To see someone in so much pain and slowly deteriorating can be soul destroying. Of course, people can and have fought cancer, giving it the big middle finger and that will always be the silver lining. With dementia there is no cure, and once you have dementia it is just a downwards spiral. My Nan’s dementia is now advanced, meaning that she can’t form sentences, she can’t hold a conversation, she doesn’t know who anyone is, she can’t care for herself properly e.g. cooking meals etc which has resulted in her now living in a home. A home of which I now work in.
| Four generations selfie! Nan was so confused by the phone haha! |
Since working in care, which hasn’t been long at all, my eyes have been opened up to dementia. Even though my Nan has this illness I still didn’t know much about it. I assumed everyone was the same as my Nan and that certainly isn’t the case. I was always skeptical about visiting my Nan which is crazy because she was still my Nan. The truth of the matter being I didn’t know how to act around her, how to make conversation and I didn’t want to sit there looking at her now and replacing the old amazing memories of my loving Nanny. I now realise that nothing could replace the memories that made my childhood great. Nothing.
| My cousin baking cakes when we were younger |
This is what has brought me to write this post and what inspired the title. It is easy for people to dismiss people with dementia. If there are a group of people having a conversation and one member of the group is trying to involve a person that suffers with dementia, it is easy to shrug it off and be like ‘oh they don’t understand, don’t worry about it’. Her name is not dementia. She has a name, she is still a person and she still deserves respect. She still deserves to be included and acknowledged. My Nan may not know me, but I still know her.
| Decorating the Christmas tree at Nan & Grandads, a yearly tradition.. |
For me, the easiest way to cope with seeing my Nan is to remember all the amazing memories. Staying over on a Friday night and having pancakes for tea, every single time. Nan standing behind me helping to flip them. Picking blackberries and baking pies. Helping her with her gardening. Skipping in the back alley and Nan would always join in and get caught in the rope. Her laugh. Her smile. Sitting in the front room with my horlicks watching The Wizard of Oz. Walking down town on a Saturday morning and getting lunch from Marks and Spencers. Spending days at the beach collecting shells and pretty pebbles. Nan constantly stocking up on ice cream cones and ice cream and we would dip them in her jars of sprinkles and coconut shavings that were sat on top of the fridge. Standing on the table whilst Nan adjusted the length of my school trousers then watching her sew them up. The day when my sister, cousins and I would all decorate the Christmas tree, every single year. The memories are endless, and it is so important for me to never forget them. The great thing about my Nan is that she still has her sense of humor, her laugh and her smile. I love going to sit with her after work and seeing that smile as it brings back all of those happy memories that I cherish.
Her name is not dementia, her name is Barbara. And she is my Nan.