May 14-20 is dementia awareness week, something very close to my heart. I’ll be publishing three more blog posts during the week, they’re posts that I’d already written, and things that I’d made, several weeks ago.
Three days ago I lost my lovely dad because of this spiteful disease. I’d been caring for him for the last few years, eventually giving up my job in November so that I could look after him full time.
Dementia took him from us in such a cruel and frightening way. Dementia doesn’t care about this. Dementia doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t discriminate. Dementia doesn’t care that I’ll forever feel guilty that I didn’t do more for him. Dementia doesn’t care about the ‘what-ifs’ going round and round in my head, knowing that with hindsight I could have prevented his death this time. Dementia doesn’t care that it didn’t let him slip away quickly and quietly; it made us wait by his bedside for nine days. It even gave us a glimmer of hope when, after two days of sleeping, he became alert and responsive. No, dementia gave us that hope and then slapped us in the face. Dementia doesn’t care.
Dementia, you probably looked on smirking when we, at our most exhausted and vulnerable, had to keep chasing to make sure he got the basic healthcare that he deserved. You gave us another glimmer of hope but we had wised up by then, so the next time you slapped us it didn’t sting quite so hard. Dementia doesn’t care. Dementia doesn’t care about anyone. It doesn’t play by the rules.
Dementia, you may have taken another good one; the kindest, gentlest, politest, most generous man I know, but if you think I’m done with you, think again. I’m far from done. I haven’t even got started yet.
You can help me. Dementia is set to become this century’s biggest killer so doing nothing isn’t an option.
You can donate to the Alzheimer’s Society, donate some more to Dementia UK, become a Dementia Friend and always, always hold our councillors and politicians to account. Successive governments have completely failed people with this cruel disease, not to mention their carers and families. We have an amazing NHS – paramedics, doctors and nurses working so hard, taking care of their patients but also showing such kindness to the patients’ families. They are completely overstretched and have been criminally treated by current and past governments. It is not so much that the NHS is broken; it is our government that is broken.