Archive | September 2014

More odd things.

And I used to like play backgammon. Just setting up the board  was part of the pleasure for me.  You assume a sort of casual  nonchalance  as you toss the “men” –  onto the board and slide them into their positions.  The expertise  with which you execute this preliminary little ritual will indicate  to your opponent the degree of your confidence as a player. My opponent  was usually my daughter or my husband.

You could still  win, my daughter would say – as her lips quivered into a nasty smile and she took two of my men simultaneously , before blocking me from moving.  Even when she was a child I never stood a chance. My husband was another matter. I took my vengeance out on him, poor man, beating him every time.  time. Until this, too, changed. He won three games in a row one evening, and then again the next evening .

I’m getting the knack of this, he gloated.

But when the euphoria of winning had waned  he soon he became impatient: What are you doing, he demanded ,when  I pick  up his white piece instead of my black, or captured one of his men in error because I had  miscounted.  And  as I dithered over my next move he would  glance at his watch in an unsubtle attempt to hurry me. But I could not hurry. The jazzy, pattern of the crowded board merged into a homogenous blur, and it It was as though I my brain seemed unable to register what had once been almost automatic  to me.

You’re tired, that’s all, my husband, the kindest man on the planet, tried to mollify me when I became tearful.

But his sweetness failed to console me.  We stopped playing backgammon.  Scrabble met with the same fate.

What was happening to me? I could see so coronation between the strange, disparate, symptoms I was experiencing.  had to visit my GP for something unrelated, I thought

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Living With PCA Alzheimer’s – The Horror Of Steps And Stairs

Around the same time, I developed an inexplicable fear of steps and stairs.  Winding ones, glass ones, sloping ones, crumbling ones, short ones your feet overhung…I could ascend them with comparative ease, but  descending was another matter. As they swayed before me I morphed into a scared old woman, clinging on to the railings for dear life. The stairs existed solely for me to break my neck. And as for escalators: I confronted these with horror. I could not get the timing right and lurched onto them, getting my feet sandwiched between the treads. Nowadays, when there is no option other to use the wretched contraption, I enlist help; but prior to my diagnose it was important to me to face my fears. I used frequently  to travel to London and brave the Marylebone station escalator, waiting for a gap between the endless  hoards streaming past me. Who would have guessed at my hammering heart? It became ever more difficult, but I continued to bluff. I could confide in nobody. Since diagnosis the stress has been much reduced. My very supportive husband is no longer impatient when I fail to see what is right in front of me, and shepherds me in unfamiliar places, as I lose my bearings. I can, to some extent, capitulate to the illness; that said, there are moments when I let myself down.  The following happened not long ago: We were at a at a Michelin-starred restaurant for my husband’s birthday. Everything was perfect – the food, service, ambience… Without a qualm, I walked up the three, wide, tartan-clad stairs to pay; then turned to descend. The short run of stairs took on the proportions of Kilimanjaro. With a fixed smile, I placed one foot in front of another; and fell. My landing was soft, but was small consolation, as I lay, sprawled there. It must have appeared comical to the dozen onlookers, and I played-up to that. Laughed as I stood, an up, and offered an encore. It was not the time or place to expound on the curious affliction that is PCA. Other incident: It was about three years ago, shortly before my mother died. In an effort to engage her, I offered to read to her from a novel of my own. It was her favourite of my books, and a I noticed a spark of interest come into her eyes. Sitting   close, I began to read aloud.  Stumbled. Stopped. Started again.  The same thing happened. I could not comprehend it; I had always been such a fluent reader. I continued for a few sentences, from memory and adlibbed, but had to abandon the idea. My mother had fallen asleep anyway, and I put the book, which had once meant so much to us both,  back on its shelf. A week later I needed to write out a cheque. Like most people, generally pay by card or cash. As I attempted to fill it in, I couldn’t keep to the lines, and there seemed to be insufficient space. It took three attempt. I also had to complete a a form; and the same thing happened; I could not keep to the boxes and had to start afresh. Finally, in barely legible writing, I succeeded. I felt foolish and inadequate.  And something else besides: I felt the prickling of concern.     The months progressed. My husband commented I hardly read any more. I made some excuse. He did not know that reading had ceased to be enjoyable for me and had become a strain. I did not tell him that the letters and words danced in front of my eyes and I would lose my place or read the wrong line. However, ‘old habits’ and all that: I went on buying books. Unread, they taunt me with their pristine promise. More time passing. Newspapers were the next thing. If I read an entire article it was an accomplishment. Fancy fonts confused me, and finding my way round the columns was akin to searching for the exit in a maze. Then I discovered that I could no longer play the piano. It seemed to have gone from me overnight. In fact there had been an  interlude  of  a few years, but I assumed that, like riding a bike, it was something I would always retain. Full of anticipation I positioned the Mozart sonata on the piano, and leant forward to remind myself lf the opening chords. Crotchets and quavers danced before my eyes, meaningless. I was unable to read a note.

This entry was posted on September 13, 2014. 2 Comments