How Do We Settle An Unsettled Mind?

September 16, 2009 at 6:50 am (Uncategorized)

Occasionally the search terms that bring people to DoctorDi really tickle me. Here’s one I never thought I’d see: Does Tinkerbell know the Tooth Fairy? What fascinates me about this is that it was a question posed by someone evidently old enough to access a computer, use it properly, and spell all the search terms correctly. Someone old enough to know better, in other words. Does Santa know the Easter Bunny? Gee, let’s see now…

I spoke to Nana earlier. I’ve been sorting through some of the paperwork around her transfer to St Andrew’s (they can call it what they like, but we know the truth about that apostrophe), and so it seemed like a good time to check in with the lady herself. She wasn’t in her room, but the lovely Nicki soon located her and handed Lady Alzheimer the phone.

“Hi Nana,” I said. “It’s Diana.”

“Oh, Diana!” she said. “Someone here just gave me the… someone just gave it to me, before, and you were there. Here you are.”

Sometimes these conversations seem straight from the pages of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead…

“That’s right,” I said. “I’ve been away, but I’m back now so I thought I’d better give you a call and see how you’re doing.”

“It’s very nice here,” she confided, “but I’ll tell you I can’t… I can’t settle. There’s too much of it.”

“Too much of what?”


“Too much of what it is,” she triumphantly announced.

The funny thing is, I almost know what she means. Too much of what it is – ain’t that the truth, toots?!

“I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling unsettled, Nana,” I said. “Unsettled in what way?”

“I just can’t settle,” she said. “There’s this window. And under the… there’s a big metal thing here. It’s all right, I can sit there. But I can’t, you know, I can’t settle, but that’s all right. It’s going to get better.”

“Do you need your own chair?” I ventured.

“Oh no,” she said. “There’s plenty of places to sit.”

“But are you comfortable? Is there anything you need?”

“I’m a bit out of breath,” she said. “Because I was just on my way downstairs.”

There is no downstairs.

“How’s Llewie?” she asked suddenly.

I love that Nana calls him Llewie, and that she always asks about him unprompted. Somehow I imagine she’ll forget me before she ever forgets him.

“He’s good,” I said. “We had an IVF appointment yesterday, and they told him he has Super Sperm.”

She had a bit of a giggle.

“Oh, well,” she said. “I suppose he has to be happy with that.”

“He’s very happy. He was strutting around proud as a peacock, don’t you worry. And the good news is it seems I have some eggs, so everything should be all right.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, it is. How are you going?”

“I have to go,” she said, breathless with excitement or agitation, it was impossible to tell which. “I have to go downstairs to see the man.”

“You off after a bit of a flirt?”

“No,” she said firmly. “I’m not flirting. He’s the one who looks after us, you know. The man. And I’m on my way downstairs to see him, to see what I can get.”

She really stressed that last word. Whatever he’s got, it’s good. Except there’s no downstairs, and maybe there’s no man.

“Well, you’d better get down there, in that case,” I said.

“It was lovely talking to you,” she said brightly.

“You too, Nana. Lots of love.”

Nana said goodbye. Then she put the phone down without hanging it up. I listened for another minute more. I didn’t hear anything but Nana’s retreating murmur. In my mind’s eye, I imagined something else, a cartoon scene, where the only things left were a dust cloud and the dangling receiver, dropped in her haste to get on with the business of getting whatever it was she was so determined to get. A mystery, all of it, but Nicki and my sister both confirm that Nana’s thrown herself right into the activities roster, so I think she’s perhaps nothing more than a bit overwhelmed. Tired. Maybe she’s overdone it. Maybe we both have.



  1. Grad said,

    There is always something so poignant and yet so…I hate to say it almost, but…funny about your conversations with Nana. The back and forth is uplifting, and if Alzheimers as not involved, the whole scene would be a delightful comedy. Does she seem a little more confused to you, or about the same? It’s a good sign that she remembers to ask about Llewie without you mentioning him first, and that the significance of being Super Sperm registered with her. And, it’s only naturally to be overwhelmed with a move. Hopefully, there was a man with something to give, and she got…well, her share, anyway.

  2. doctordi said,

    Oh, Graddikins, please don’t hate to say it, it’s true. I don’t know why we all feel a bit embarrassed and shamefaced admitting these sorts of exchanges are amusing, but we all kind of squirm when we do. But please don’t ever worry about that here. I always find these conversations as funny as they are painful – I’m only glad to know you do too.

    No, I’m afraid she seems more confused. Definitely the loss of vocabulary has advanced, which adds to the overall confusion. I agree it’s a good sign that she remembers to ask about Llewie – he’s like a beacon, shining clear in her mind when everything else is falling away. And don’t worry, darling, Nana always gets her share!

  3. woo said,

    Yup, my own dear Granny had Alzheimer’s, I remember several conversations which were either meaningless or, perhaps not so strangely, meaningful but in a slightly oblique way.

    I, too, hope that the man had plenty left of whatever it is he had to give and that Nana got her fair share 😉

    • doctordi said,

      Woo, I’m fascinated by the extent to which Nana makes abundant sense to herself – there is a lot less actual confusion than you’d expect. Sorry to hear your gran had Alzheimer’s too – I hope that, like Nana, her Groundhog Day was a good one.

  4. litlove said,

    I reckon she’s overdone it. Or else the prospect of all the man had to give her was too utterly distracting for organised thought. Still, she seems healthy and hearty and certainly something’s going on over there, even if you might never know what it is! Too much of what it is is a good phrase though, and one I will try to insert into coversation….

    • doctordi said,

      I think it’s a classic phrase, LL, kind of Woodstock, kind of Beat…!

      Organised thought? You’ve got the wrong gal!

  5. Pete said,

    Perhaps she was off to see a man about a dog. (Not sure where that came from.) Poignant and funny is right. I love the surreal nature of these conversations. You never know what’s coming next – a flash of lucidity (Llewie and the super sperm) or some tangle which is totally off the wall. Glad to hear she’s keeping busy. And I hope you both feel a bit more settled soon!

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Pete. Yes, I nearly said that exact thing to her – but I thought it might confuse things further. “Dog? There’s a dog? I had a dog…” – and suddenly we’re back in a Stoppard play.

  6. Grad said,

    Oh, and I made a typo in the “Darwin” posting. I meant to say I was B pos. Which does not necessarily mean we are no longer kindred spirits – maybe distant cousins, though.

  7. doctordi said,

    Grad, you are no longer in the Neanderthal Nicks.

  8. litlove said,

    Oops, touch of early alzheimers myself there… 🙂

  9. davidrochester said,

    “Too much of what it is …”

    Oh, man, that’s so classic. I want that on a T-shirt. In fact, I want to re-name my blog that.

  10. doctordi said,

    David, I had a strong suspicion you’d appreciate that little gem as much as I did. I think we have to start using it, like, all the time.

  11. Pokea Koko said,

    it is educative idea

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