At times or in some situations I flop around. I trip. I wobble. I turn and catch something with my arm. I kick something.
And it really annoys me.
Yesterday I was asked to put up a shelving unit on a wall in an outbuilding. We’re changing how we use it, after many years of just managing, and me getting annoyed about not finding bits and pieces and tools.
Now some people are good at managing to move around tight confined spaces, navigating the clutter of everyday life, and stuff.
I hate it. But over the years I’ve been responsible for a lot of it here.
It’s only now that I am understanding that there are things I will never do that I am chucking stuff out.
So I go and get the tools I need from my newly organised toolshed!
And I see I have got to squeeze round an old wardrobe, past disused shelves, past a basket of walking sticks and old cricket stumps, supermarket boxes sitting at odd angles with stuff loose in them.
And I know I will heat up, boil, erupt…before I get far into all this.
But…I try, because that is the best way of conforming to expectations.
And, yes, I bang into the wardrobe as I unscrew the shelves. I put my tools on the floor in one place, and have to squeeze round the boxes and walking sticks to get to and from them. So, temperature rising, I shove the wardrobe and some boxes roughly…and get ‘the look’.
I know what is coming.
So I say I have got to empty the place before doing any more.
‘Why? It’s only a small thing.’
Sorry, I cannot do it like this.
So, cutting this part of the story pretty short for economy and privacy, I move stuff out onto the grass.
Ever seen how writers express characters’ disapproval?
Oohhhwww for god’s sake…
As I move the stuff out, making a few grumbles just to register my friction and temperature.
And then…I’ve cleared my space and get started on the shelving unit.
Taking my time, thinking through, planning ahead step by step, before starting…
Measure twice, cut once.
Etc etc etc
Yes, it’s slow…
And I try to ignore the eyes gouging scars through my back as I stand and stare and think and plan.
I’ll call you when I need you.
(That’s another one)
And an hour later it’s done.
A couple of years back, I found myself staying in a tiny room with a tiny shower unit during a two day conference. And that day, I learned that I could no longer cope with small spaces, or rooms where there is clutter and stuff to navigate around, or tiny shower units to not fall down in, to squeeze the doors shut and turn around in, and – yes, often – first get an ice cold dousing followed by scalding hot water.
So now that organisation always books me a larger room. Bless them.
It’s clutter and stuffocation that do for me.
Even down to small things, like having my coffee and filter papers stored away around the corner behind the kettle. Neatly. So I have to stretch over or round the kettle as it heats up, and reach over for my stuff.
I just want simple.
So I can lay out whatever I need to use, be it for cooking or doing an odd job or reading a book…and not have to work round stuff, and furniture, and piles, and things sticking out.
I now put this down to my decreasing ability to process the incoming data signals quickly enough to avoid these obstacles, to balance to the unexpected, and to focus my mind on that on which I should be concentrating. I cannot deal with this much data. My processor is damaged. My memory capacity is damaged.
It is speed of processing.
And as I/we slow, our families and friends have to adapt to our slowing. And that is not easy.
It takes patience and foresight and insight.
It requires working at our pace not theirs.
It requires others to walk in our shoes.
And I do not criticise people who do not do this, unless they don’t try to. It is a different, counter intuitive way of thinking. It is hard to get.
Dementia Friends is all about raising awareness, of bringing people into our world a little so they understand us and our behaviours, and can accommodate us.
A head teacher from Glasgow said on the radio this morning that…
‘All behaviour is communication.’
Nail on head.
Understand our behaviours, understand our needs, meet us in our world.