For the first time, the other day, as I drove into my local village after a trip to Shrewsbury (dentist) I felt relieved and at ease.
It was like feeling safe after a threatening or frightening episode.
I relaxed. Breathed deeply. And felt at home.
And then this morning, walking around Colemere lake and woodland with Lupin, I felt at home again, as if this place that I have known for forty years was mine, my home.
And now, this morning, I am reading a document about the IDEAL research project into the factors involved in loving well with dementia.
The preamble in the study protocol talks about the effects of dementia on well being, life satisfaction, quality of life, and well being. It speaks of loss of confidence, fear of the unfamiliar.
And I wonder, for the first time, whether I am losing that confidence, and beginning to prefer the safety of the known, the comfort of home.
I know I now restrict my driving to avoid long distances, and the days are becoming more frequent when I just don’t like driving more than a few miles. I don’t feel scared, or unable to do it, I just have a reluctance to put in the effort required to concentrate.
And then, if I did not drive how would I get to the dentist in Shrewsbury? Bus? Three miles walk or cycle to catch one! Train? Drive four miles to local station. An all morning journey.
One day that will happen, but not quite yet.
And then yesterday I found myself in a hotel in Coventry (which will remain anonymous), during a two day conference.
I know, you can never be sure from a website, with its professional photos and descriptions, what a place will be like in reality. You book, you hope, you put aside negative memories of others.
But this was something entirely else. A Victorian pile that has gone through iterations as a hospital and then a hotel. Some time ago.
Now it seems to survive on coach loads of touring holiday makers, and probably a few airport customers who need somewhere for a few hours before an early flight.
The faded grandeur, the chipped dirty surfaces, the weary carpets, dented doors, broken basins, dead light switches…
And then the food. Something out of a refrigerated delivery van, ‘cooked’ too long ago, tasteless, mushy, colourless, self service. The vegetarian option sold out before service even started.
Staff could not smile or be polite. We hadn’t booked in advance a time for eating. Tut tut. Tsst.
(We hadn’t been asked to!)
I went to my room. The light switches did not work. The pictures were hung at uneven heights side by side. The sink drain was broken and filthy looking. Everything just horrid.
Walking to breakfast I nearly fell down steps as they had no edge markings, and the floor coverings were mottled, faded, and in places patterned in dazzling shapes. Another guest’s room curtains were different lengths.
This morning I felt horridly unsafe and unsettled. Dirty, contaminated, expecting something bad at any moment. My brain was scrambled. I could not focus on, or gather my thoughts for, the presentation which was first on the schedule.
So I went to a nearby cafe for a good coffee, served in an attractive colourful mug, in clean surroundings, with a smiling barista. And wrote down ideas to speak about.
And I recovered my own smile and balance, and the fog cleared.
I was at the Dementia UK Admiral Nurse Forum. Surrounded by wonderful, smiling, friendly people who change the world for us.
Thank you, Admiral Nurses, for all you do. It’s my great pleasure and honour to work with you.
I hope that when I need your help you will be working where I live, in sunny old Shropshire.