In France with dementia…
So. What’s it been like?
Six weeks travelling in the banter bus. Seeing lots and lots of France.
Map reading has been difficult, as I tend not to keep up with the speed of the bus. So I’m usually late with my directions.
I’ve slowed down. My brain, I mean. If you don’t use it you lose it.
And with dementia, I’m told, you may never reactivate it. We’ll see.
We’ve spent the last week with friends at their French house. I know, it sounds terribly middle class. Well, it is. No denying. (Sorry Roy.)
Conversations in a group of six are quite difficult to keep up with. I think too much about me, and how I might respond. I often dream back into memories. I try to make witty contributions, but have to hold my hand up to get into the conversation. And then I’m behind already.
I retreat to the banter bus to mend a drawer lock which I inadvertently glued shut. Best of intentions. Nothing to do with dementia… Just careless DIY.
And I realise that it’s my little man shed. It’s a retreat.
I really find groups of people difficult. I can’t keep up. I can’t contribute fast enough. I can’t feel part of it.
Not their fault. No one’s of course. Just …
But the escape from responsibility has been wonderfully refreshing. Six weeks not having to think about bills, the bank, cars, my patient rep work…it’s really tempting, though I won’t, to adopt a nomadic life. The biggest issue every day? Where’s the next water and waste disposal stop?
I have done a lot of reminiscence in bed. I wake up and enter whichever year is at the top of my mind. I dream vividly, as ever, sometimes good sometimes horrid. I go in and out of my memories.
I begin to understand that film Barbara’s Story. She is thinking in another dimension, living in a different place, and then has suddenly to come back to the NOW. It’s difficult to make the move. It’s confusing. It takes time. It takes thought, slow reflection, and slowly coming up to speed,
That’s where I think I am sometimes.
Still pretty with it, but taking longer to adjust to different places, people, conversations, subjects.
Having to take time out from other people, so I can catch up gently, gather my thoughts.
Back to Blighty on Sunday. I have mixed feelings, but I have enjoyed this trip hugely more than I thought I might. We’re planning the Scottish Highlands and Islands next spring, and Ireland.
I love the banter bus. It’s a little home on wheels. You can go wherever you want.
An antidote to that planned, risk averse, responsible life I have inherited and unfortunately lived.
I wish I had been a more adventurous person. But we are what we are.
And now I am less than I was.
I wonder where I will be a year from now.