I brought my Evie to my parents’ house tonight, in the hope that she’ll do her normal routine of lying beside me in bed. Nope. She gave me a cuddle, then went off to sleep on my Mum’s bed. At first, I felt hurt that she didn’t recognise I needed her company, but then I thought what a lovely dog. She has always been a highly sensitive dog, she obviously knows my Mum’s need for company is greater right now. Animals are incredibly intuitive. They offer the best therapy and unconditional love.
Sat here going over the events of a long day, I’m very much aware of the fact I’m losing my identity. Currently, I know my future as a Teaching Assistant hangs in the balance. I’m sure my bosses are wondering if I’m going back. I, myself, am wondering if I’m ever going back. I love the job I do. Working with children has always been my identity. However, the idea of attempting to juggle my parents’ situation and doing my job, makes me feel utterly exhausted. Hence my GP signing me off.
Right now, anything other than being my parents’ carer seems too much. I very much feel my new identity is ‘Point of Contact.’ How life can change so dramatically, so quickly. In my school role, I’ve always enjoyed the role of eccentric ‘Mrs V’, I’ve had the title of ‘Mrs V’ in most of my previous school roles. It’s my familiar. I know where I am with it. Right now, I feel like a scared daughter, trying her best to keep her head above the water. This is very much unfamiliar.
My writing is also becoming my identity. When my GP asked me how I help myself in this difficult situation. I told her that I write. She said “Then please don’t stop writing, it’s your therapy.” I very much feel this. I’ve lost my ability, right now, to balance this life with work, however, I have this ability to put my thoughts in written form.
I know I’ve been hiding the extent of my Dad’s stroke from myself. I’ve been holding on to words, such as extensive cognitive damage. Truth is, my Dad has had such a horrific trauma to his executive functions, that it has brought on vascular dementia. I’ve been told this in a very roundabout way, but I’ve not been able to accept. In the hope that my Dad, my hero, can remove the road blocks in his brain. That he can untangle all the muddled sequencing. Who have I been kidding? Wide awake at 12.45am and I know that this would be asking for a miracle.
I know that when I speak to the Occupational Therapist, or our Key Worker, they’ve had multi-agency meetings about my parents’ situation. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, if they’ve even said, ‘it’s only a matter of time, before Sophie accepts her Dad also has dementia now.’ Right now, I know this. My Dad’s road blocked brain is so damaged, that this is now his sad reality. And it is a sad reality. After I’ve dropped my Mum to her Reflexology appointment tomorrow morning, I shall ring my lovely Key Worker, and I’m sure she’ll think ‘the penny has finally dropped.’
I really didn’t see double dose dementia as my parents’ final story. I’m grieving for the loss of my amazing, loving and mentally strong parents. They’re still here, but they’re broken. The impact of Mum’s dementia has been crushing to my Dad over the last 2 years. Their marriage has been built on such a strong foundation of love and respect for each other. To see my Mum deteriorate has been so detrimental to my Dad’s own wellbeing. I think the evidence sadly speaks for itself.
Whilst I’m doing my utmost to be the strong daughter, providing care and support to my parents. I feel I’m expecting so much from my own children right now. As I was leaving my house tonight at 9.30pm with my Mum, Lou was just arriving home, after an overnight stay in London for work. As I met him in the road, I cuddled him so tightly and cried my eyes out. So the first thing he sees, as he returns home from a long 24 hours, is a trainwreck of a Mum. I’m very aware that I’m constantly doing this to Hats. I’m strong for my parents, then as soon as it’s just Hats and I, I go to pieces and she’s left to deal with the aftermath. So, as my parents are leaning on me as their support, I’m doing exactly the same to my own children. Surely, this can’t be right? My children, alongside my husband, are my best friends. I’m wondering right now, if I’m abusing this great friendship by letting them see me so broken.