I’ve been asked quite often recently how I am.
By people who know about my dementia and wonder how it is going, or developing or progressing.
That’s nice. Much better than ignoring it. Pretending it doesn’t exist.
How are you getting on… you know, are you ok still?
How should I respond?
The automatic reply is of course “fine. I’m good, thanks.”
Yeah, I’m doing ok.
But they don’t know it’s my auto response.
I can’t think quickly enough to come up with the real answer so I read the autocue.
I’m fine thanks.
Ask me a fact and the chances are I’ll get it.
What are you doing tomorrow? Which workshop are you going to? Busy this weekend?
Easy, though I’ll usually check my apple diary.
Ask me what I think though and I don’t know where to look.
How am I? How indeed am I?
Well, what shall I refer to? How I feel today? Now?
Dementia? Fatigue? Cheerful? Pissed off?
Do they want to know that?
What do I think they want to hear?
God I’m fed up. Got no sleep last night because of my chest infection. My feet ache from the diabetes. Got chest pain walking up the stairs. Only managed half an hour gardening yesterday before my back ached too much.
Nah. No one wants all that. Any of it. We’ve got to be cheerful.
So a lot of conversations are based on a wrong premise, as Dr Johnson said, leaning out of an upstairs window to shout at neighbours. That’s human discourse though.
In hospital the nurses and HCAs often ask you how you are, lying in bed, or sitting out in the chair, making sure you don’t expose yourself through an open dressing gown.
I usually say “fine”. It’s demonstrably untrue of course, but you have to be cheerful or they chide you for being miserable.
So how the devil am I?
I am speaking more slowly than I used to. Taking more time finding thoughts and framing them into sentences.
I noticed the other day that some one was talking very quickly. They amazed me. How can they possibly order their thoughts and sequence them into words that fast?
Tell you what…it’s because they don’t need to think about their words.
They just flow. From whencesoever in their brain they come.
A river, sometimes in flood, sometimes low, but always flowing.
My river is a rock strewn muddy bed, a trickle that meanders around rocks and through sand, into a little pool and out again. Sometimes shallow and wide, sometimes narrow and deep.
The water gets there in the end, but much more slowly than before.
I’ve got some nice slow even flows and I’ve got some rapids. But never enough water to fill the river bed from bank to bank up to the grass.
And what do I think about all this?
Just give me a few moments to think that one out.
I’ll be back in a while.