Lady Alzheimer’s Easter

April 8, 2010 at 6:34 am (Uncategorized)

Note to self: in future, write blog post before heading into the belching bowels of the MS redrafting… that’s the second day in a row I’ve made the mistake of not posting first, and yesterday’s result was not posting at all. So. I must manage my writing time more successfully, or else DoctorDi will end up sailing down the sewer rapids with me. And we can’t have that. Collectively, you’re the only thing keeping me sane.

I spoke to Nana over Easter. I’d been trying to reach her without success for a couple of weeks, and I persisted in using the room number instead of phoning the RN’s desk on the ward because Nana just gets so distracted when she’s out in the general area that she’s really just busting to get off. It kind of defeats the purpose, phoning when I know she’s in an environment in which she doesn’t wish to speak. There’s no purpose in the usual sense anyway, because she can’t remember when last I called and shall have no recollection of this conversation either. Nonetheless, I know, and so I continued my efforts to catch her in her room.

And finally, success: the jovial sounding lady who, it transpired, was dressing Nana, picked up the phone, and without further ado put her on.

“Happy Easter, Nana!” I said.

“And Happy Easter to you,” she said.

“Did you have a good one?”

“Well,” she said, “I didn’t… do anything, I didn’t do anything special, but yes, I suppose I did. There are some very nice people here, you know.”

“I am extremely glad to hear you say so.”

“Yes,” Nana continued. “And there’s things… there’s someone here, actually, and there’s things all over the bed.”

“Is it your clothes? Did I interrupt your getting dressed?”
“Yes! I’m… there’s a lady here trying to dress me. I’ve got my pants on.”

“I should certainly hope so!” I said, and she laughed. “Being dressed, eh? That sounds pretty good, Nana. It’s like you’ve got ladies-in-waitng.”

“Yes,” she said. “It is quite like that, actually. I’ve got this thing on my leg. I can see it.”

“What thing?”


“Is it a bandage?” I ventured, knowing she’s had a lot of terrible trouble with one leg and an injury that’s never really properly healed.

“No,” she said, “no, it’s not a bandage. It’s a thing. Something hanging off. I want to flick it or pick it.”

“A scab!” I felt quite triumphant, like I’d just solved a cryptic puzzle.

“Yes! A scab. And the rest of my legs are brown.”

“Brown?” I said doubtfully. “Really? You’ve been tanning up there, have you?”

She laughed this away.

“No, they’re brown. Horrible. They look awful. Brown!”

“Is it some kind of antiseptic cream? A lotion?”

“No, no,” she said. “They’re brown.”

I just couldn’t figure it out. I still have no idea what she talking about.

“Well, don’t be too hard on yourself, Nana,” I said. “You are standing around in your underpants.”

This put Nana in very high spirits.

“So how’s your love life?” I asked. “Any romantic interests I should know about?”

Nana’s tone turned instantly coy.

“As a matter of fact, there is a gentleman I’m interested in, and I think he’s pretty interested in me too. He’s a very nice man.”

“Excellent news, Nana. What’s his name?”

“Vincent,” she declared, without a moment’s hesitation.

“Vincent? Do you sit together?”

“Yes, we do. We do other things.” Oh god, I thought, please no. “There’s… there’s other things…what do you call someone who’s just…yummy?”

Good grief.


“Yes,” she insisted, “really yummy. There’s someone here who does the things, and I go along sometimes because he’s doing them.”

The penny dropped.

“Oh!” I said, laughing. “The activities director!”

“Yes,” said Nana. “There’s an activities roster. We do lots of things. There’s some very nice people here, you know.”

“And some spunky ones, too, by the sound of it! I should have known you’d be up to no good, flirting with the staff.” Nana didn’t deny it. I think we both know the score. “But you see plenty of Kate and Harper too, don’t you?”

“Oh yes,” she said happily.

“I saw some photos of Harper recently. I didn’t think it was possible, but I think she may actually be getting even cuter.”

“Yes,” Nana agreed. “I didn’t think it was possible myself, but I think she may… yes, she may be getting cuter. She is very cute. And how’s Llewie?”

I gave her the full rundown, and then there was a moment’s pause before…

“And how’s Llewie?”

I sighed.

“He’s good, Nana,” I said. “He’s working hard, but he’s good.”

“I wish I could see you,” she said.

I explained about the two rounds of IVF and Llew’s work recently slowing us down, but then told her I’m learning to drive.

“So the plan is, once I have a bit more experience under my belt, we’re going to drive up to see you.”

“That’ll be lovely,” Nana said. She just sounds so happy there, so content. It’s just the most thoroughly excellent outcome after everything we went through down here. “I can’t wait to see you.”

“And I can’t wait to see you,” I said.

“I’d better go,” she said brightly. “There’s someone here waiting to dress me.”

“Okay, Nana. Off you go.”

“Lovely to speak to you!”

“And you,” I said, but she was already gone.



  1. Norwichrocks said,

    Oh, I WISH my grandmother and I had been able to have such conversations while she was in the nursing home with Alzheimers. Unfortunately, my aunt kept everyone at bay – determined that nobody, I think, should see her mother in ‘that state’.

    Maybe the brown on her legs was some kind of iodine-based antiseptic? Or brown stockings? Or lots of freckles? you see, I’m intrigued now…

  2. doctordi said,

    That’s what I thought, antiseptic, but Nana said no when I ran it by her… definitely not freckles. Unless she’s got worsening circulation – you know how people with gout etc experience swelling and reddening? Maybe it’s something like that.

    That’s a pity about your grandmother. I’m sure your aunt was perfectly well-meaning, but one can’t help feeling a bit sorry that she enforced a decision that wasn’t really hers to make. It’s a shame. She might have eased her own burden into the bargain.

  3. kate said,

    Mmmmm, the legs. We visited Nana today ourselves and were introduced to Vincent (again, but this time by name!) and I viewed the legs. She has had bandages for literally months on one leg. This time there was a bandage on her arm but none on the legs, as she was keen to show me. Arm wound is another skin tear, just thankfully not on the shin.

    I am not sure of the cause but Nana’s legs look like braised lamb shanks. They are brown and mottled, some of which would be healed injuries. I’m not surprised she isn’t keen on them. They are thin and brittle looking.

    Nana herself was happy, we were there at 9.30- after breakfast, before morning activities. I had three special ‘I love Nana’ mini photo frames with a photo of each child in them, plus some tacks to put up more photo’s on her notice board. She was very pleased with the whole effect- each and every time she noticed them!

    I also brought chocolate, this time Easter chocolate but we always bring chocolate anyway! You know where to find the pictures Di!

  4. litlove said,

    How fortunate your Nana is to have you and Kate in such loving attendance (as well as other ladies-in-waiting). I love the way you deal with her – I wish someone would cheer me up on the phone like that and figure out for me what it was I wanted to say. Seems a shame to have to wait until Alzheimers sets in. More seriously, I’m so glad she is doing so well – it must be a huge weight off your mind to know she is settled.

  5. Grad said,

    I adore these conversations between you and Nana. I was sitting in my office and burst out laughing at her “yummy” stuff and your “good grief” thoughts. I wish I knew her; she sounds like a pistol. I’d tell you, “You go girl!” and I think she would take me up on it. Yes, she just might. What a spirit!

  6. Grad said,

    I’d tell her, not you. But I might tell you the same thing. (Confusion at this time of morning – with no alcohol involvement – is not a good sign for the rest of the day.)

  7. Lilian Nattel said,

    It was such a pleasure to read about Nana again. 🙂 But I have to say, though we can’t have you disappearing altogether, that putting your ms first and blog 2nd is perfectly fine and the right order of things.

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