To quote the Marx Brothers (I think)  “If you had a brain you’d be dangerous”.

Well today we find out, well not exactly, just the state that mum’s brain is in.  MRI scan (or CT scan) to see if there is any change from about 18 months ago and therefore hopefully receive a formal diagnosis. Does mum have dementia, if so which one.


Its a strange nervous feeling I have this morning. We have been living with mum for 9 months, and dealing with a change in her health for over a year. All the signs and behaviour seem to support some degree of dementia. Short term memory loss being the most obvious.  She can remember being strafed by a Messerschmitt during the war, but we have to leave A4 laminated cards with the days of the week out so she knows what day it is.

For mum the “D” word was something she didn’t want to discuss and probably except. I remember watching a documentary with mum that Angela Rippon had done for the BBC “The Truth About Dementia” and mum just coming out with the statement “you don’t think I have dementia do you”?  This was in June and mum was basically saying she didn’t think she had a problem.

Two months later she was agreeing that her memory wasn’t as good as it was and that she could see she had a problem.  Admitting it to herself, meant she could say it to the GP, which has led to the scan appointment today.

Whilst it cant be very nice for mum, its also a huge step for me and Sonia. For over 12 months we’ve been caring for mum, pretty much 24/7. Whilst we may not be present 24/7, we worry about the situation when we are not there. Has mum fallen over, has she had an accident in the toilet and not able to see to clean it up, etc etc.

To receive a formal diagnosis will actually be a partial load off our minds. To be told yes she has dementia (vascular, Alzheimer’s, DLB, mixed or MCI) means we have something to understand. Something to research, something to request support for. There are lots of support agencies, groups etc. but they tend to require a formal diagnosis before gaining full access to the services.

Understanding also allows us to plan as a family. Will mum’s memory get worse, what are the timelines, will other behavioural changes occur, what care needs will develop etc. Living with someone with a medical condition, but not knowing what it is, adds a degree of stress to the situation. Hopefully after today we will have some clarity.

The awful thing to say on this however is that mum may not have dementia which obviously would be good news as I would not wish it on anyone. The downside of this diagnosis means that mum is just getting old, she will always be stubborn, cantankerous and difficult at time because she can.

But then living through WWII, bringing 4 kids up, supporting us through our difficult times and providing a loving family environment means she can be all those things.  We will at least know why.



Who are you and what have you done with my mother

What a roller coaster. Made an appointment for an urgent blood test to see if mums sodium levels have changed as yesterday I would have put money on them being worse.

When I arrived home to start getting her ready for the trip to the Dr’s she asked why I was here and when I told her the response was “right then get a move on a get my shoes so we can leave”. First surprise.

She then virtually sprinted out the door, ok no Husain Bolt but yesterday a snail would have beaten out the house.

She then walked into the surgery just holding my arm and proceeded to self check in herself on the touch screen where she not only could read the display but also pressed all the right choices for her birthday and first letter of surname.

So have the sodium levels reached a better level, hopefully the blood test will tell or is it a blip on the dementia roller coaster and yesterday was a drop and today is a high point?

Status Update

Well this isn’t Facebook but its been a week since mum came home and to be honest no real improvement. Blood result confirmed a low sodium level which basically creates all sorts of issues and in fact was the reason mum fell over and ended up in hospital nearly 12 months ago.

The fact that the blood test found something is only a small comfort. A week of mum not being where she was three weeks ago is tough going. This morning I had to physically assist her legs to move inch by inch so that she could shuffle to the toilet when she got up as her muscles couldn’t do it. Luckily she weighs about 7 stone so helping her to stand up or stopping her falling is ok, as long as you are ready for it. However loss of muscle and mobility means that I had to ensure she finished her breakfast and moved to the armchair before I took Ella to school otherwise she would stay at the kitchen table.

I popped in at lunch as I knew the carer would have left and found mum sitting at the dining table after lunch, semi asleep and lunch half eaten, including pudding which she didn’t want and so I know she wasn’t right (she never refuses a sweet pudding). Sugar level was 24 which is very high considering she had no pudding, the machine maxes out at 28 and the levels before holiday were around 10. So after a slow trip upstairs to change, I got her back downstairs and in time to get back for a HR meeting at work.

I left very blunt instructions that if the neighbour popped round that no biscuit or cake could be consumed as the sugar levels were so high. Last time they hit 28 she was taken to RUH by the paramedics.

Leaving work a bit early to get home and check mum was a good thing as I found her in a confused state, standing up with her trolley not really moving. She couldn’t articulate what was going on, she mentioned going to work tomorrow, thought she was 56 and basically not able to decide what to do, so care becomes more of an instruction process, than a suggestion or question and answer process.

Spoke to my sister who has been great with the medical support and advice and care for me and Sonia and I’m escalating the situation to the surgery to get a repeat blood test to check sodium and also chase up the diabetic team call back that didn’t happen today as we may need to go back on insulin to control the sugar levels.

The cheery thought to leave you all on, is that I really hope its only the low sodium and high sugar levels that are messing with mums muscles, body and brain. The alternative is that the dementia is worse and her ability to care for herself has very quickly deteriorated in 2 weeks. The decision is then around how do you care for someone when you both work and she can’t really be left home alone.