Melt­down, tears and sym­pa­thy as a dark mood de­scends

Tony’s de­men­tia is at the stage when more or less ev­ery­thing is con­fus­ing

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Married To Alzheimer’s - Steph Booth

It was one of those days when stress and ex­haus­tion make ev­ery­thing wrong. Ev­ery­thing. It was rain­ing. Again. I like to have my first mug of tea of the day in the gar­den dur­ing the sum­mer. It is sup­posed to be sum­mer now – not that you would know it if you lived in West York­shire. I stood, mug in hand, star­ing out mood­ily at the gar­den. The steam from my tea was at­tempt­ing to ob­scure the rain drops run­ning down the win­dow.

I had for­got­ten to buy bread. No toast with my tea. Won­der­ful. The dogs gazed at me ex­pec­tantly, hop­ing for their break­fast. I was in two minds about giv­ing it to them. If I had to be hun­gry, why would they not want to show sol­i­dar­ity and forgo break­fast too? I knew that was a non-starter. I heard them scoff­ing as I drank my sec­ond mug of tea at my post by the win­dow. The sky was leaden.

Tony was snor­ing in bed. In the si­lence I could hear him – mak­ing me more cross. I can­not re­mem­ber the last time I had a cup of tea brought to me in bed. He is not al­lowed to use the ket­tle any more – it’s far too dan­ger­ous – so it is not Tony’s fault. But it is, re­ally. He should be with me, try­ing to make me feel bet­ter in­stead of be­ing snug­gled un­der the du­vet obliv­i­ous to my dark mood and the rain.

Ma­li­cious de­light

I waited for an hour or so, be­fore get­ting him up. Tony has al­ways en­joyed his sleep, but as his de­men­tia pro­gresses, so does his ap­par­ent need for more sleep. He is not open to per­sua­sion when it comes to quit­ting his bed. Now I sim­ply pull the du­vet back, giv­ing him no op­tion for de­bate, or com­pro­mise. On this par­tic­u­lar day there was a cer­tain ma­li­cious de­light as well as prag­matic ne­ces­sity in do­ing this to him.

I was feel­ing mean. I should have taken the dogs out for a long walk, but I did not have the en­ergy and nei­ther did I want to get soak­ing wet.

I did get very wet help­ing Tony to have a shower. I have no idea how he gets so much wa­ter ev­ery­where. Our plumber, Henry, is deeply im­pressed by Tony’s abil­ity to cas­cade wa­ter from the top of the wall. Maybe I should wear my swim­suit, rather than en­dure a daily soak­ing. When we had the bath­room re­fit­ted I did think about a wet room, but for var­i­ous rea­sons this was not fea­si­ble.

On this par­tic­u­lar day I made my feel­ings known about be­ing soaked yet again. Tony’s de­men­tia is at the stage when more or less ev­ery­thing is con­fus­ing. He had no idea what was wrong with me, and that mad­dened me even more. I yelled at him that I was no longer go­ing to ac­cept his de­men­tia as an ex­cuse. He had bet­ter un­der­stand I re­ally, re­ally had, had enough.

I put Tony’s clothes out for him in the right or­der and he dressed him­self. He came down with his sweater tucked into his trousers. For good­ness sake, he looked like he had es­caped from an in­sti­tu­tion. I said this to him, but he stood there, not un­der­stand­ing. He had picked up on my foul mood, but did not know what to do.

This was the mo­ment a de­cent per­son would have calmed down. I could not be that de­cent per­son. I just looked at him. He pulled his sweater out of his trousers, ask­ing me if this was what I wanted. I ig­nored him and went up­stairs to sort out wash­ing.


Later I went out for bread. In an ef­fort to make up to Tony for be­ing so un­pleas­ant, I made egg may­on­naise sand­wiches for lunch. One of his favourites. Tony now eats in­cred­i­bly slowly. An­other po­ten­tial source of ir­ri­ta­tion.

I went into the kitchen to top up my tea and re­turned in time to see Tony giv­ing a piece of a sand­wich to the dogs. That was my point of ab­so­lute melt­down. I grabbed his plate and threw the food on the floor. (For­tu­nately, it is tiles rather than car­pet.) I have never done any­thing like that be­fore. I shocked my­self, but by then I was on a roll of right­eous fury.

Tony looked non­plussed. I pointed out I had saved him the has­sle of pass­ing it bit by bit to the dogs. The dogs, of course, were des­per­ate to get to the food, but they were more wor­ried about my mood.

They did not dare move even though sand­wiches and crisps were lit­tered in front of them. Tony and the dogs stared at me. Well, they could stare all they liked be­cause I was go­ing out.

When I re­turned, Tony who had been asleep in the arm­chair, woke up im­me­di­ately. Get­ting up he came over to hold and hug me tight. He said he did not know what he had done, but he was sorry. Stroking my hair, Tony told me how much he loved me. Of course, he had not done any­thing wrong. It was and is his ill­ness driv­ing me to de­spair.

That was when I started to sob – re­leas­ing some of my over­whelm­ing mis­ery and unar­tic­u­lated grief.

I was feel­ing mean. I should have taken the dogs out for a long walk, but I did not have the en­ergy and nei­ther did I want to get soak­ing wet

The steam from my tea was at­tempt­ing to ob­scure the rain­drops run­ning down the win­dow

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