1st April 2016
A week post trek has given me ample time to reflect on my experiences in the Grand Canyon .
As I packed my bags for the trek including some very ugly but essential footwear I gazed at the dewy eyes of my four year old son begging me not to go.
I picked him up in my arms and explained that “muma wasn’t going to be gone for long and when I return I will have presents for the best behaved children” His face beamed, as I’m certain in his little 4year old head I was bringing back mountain lions and rattle snakes, as his older brothers suggested.
Instead what I bought back was stories of loss, tales of the heart ache at living with dementia. As a business that supports sufferers we pride ourself at understanding how best to support and care for people, but as a ordinary woman not a business woman this was the eye opening moment where I actually felt the pain of those around me . I heard from one lady that her dad was a funny, strong and remarkable man then 6 years ago he stopped recognising his daughter, he could no longer put his arms around her and comfort her in her anxieties, instead she would bathe him as a stranger but love him as a daughter .
Another lady was raising money for her husband who had recently been moved into a care home, the saddest part of her story was that he was 51 when he started to become confused about general tasks. A time when husband and wife should be free to enjoy their lives and the futures they had built . This woman is as lost as her husbands memories, her soul mate has been forever changed. This brave lady fights for further research into dementia and better care for the younger sufferers as currently there is very limited care options to the younger sufferers.
During my challenge when tasks were a little daunting or I was apprehensive about doing certain things , I remembered my very close friend and the struggles she faces now that her mum has dementia . Her mum is an amazing lady, someone that made you feel like you could do anything you wanted, she was an inspiration as a mother. Which she made a career out of being a well loved childminder. My friend would often recount amusing stories of some of the things the children would do whilst being cared for by her mum.
Sadly when I ask after her mum, my best friend talks of the confusion and frustration that her mum feels now. How as a family they try and protect her from what lies ahead, providing her with the security of her family and close bond that they all share. My friend is mother now to a beautiful little girl and both are happy and loved and excelling in all walks of life , but I can’t help feeling they have both been robbed, of a mother and grandmother as although in body very little changes emotionally connections become lost.
I love my friend and when I was told of the situation with her mum my heart hurt for her . I knew that motherhood was new to her and her mum was one of the best and would have been an absolute Rock, tragically it hadn’t turned out that way.
Dementia effects more and more people every year and each year the statics surprise me ,research needs to continue, support and trials need to go further.
This disease is frightening at times you can not explain to the sufferer why they can’t remember where they live or what their wives name is . Every day is like reliving the last with the constant affirmation that they are safe
and they do not need to be afraid .
During this journey I shared some magnificent times with my very close friend and work colleague, spotting far away planets and seeing the milky way like I’ve never seen it before, laughing at ourselves when in our every day life we take everything so seriously . For me this part was freedom, a type i had never felt before.
Together we learnt to understand that it’s the little things in life that matter, like the small podgy hands of our children to the gentle reassuring caress of our loved ones.
These are special memories that hopefully one day I will recall and relive .