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Friday, 19 September 2014

A Good Cause

"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us."
Oscar Wilde

What if one day you went to read that diary and some pages were missing, or in the wrong order? And every day after that more words and pages slowly began to disappear. At first it's easy to piece things together, but eventually the gaps become larger and you find it harder to make sense of the time line. People start trying to fill the blanks for you, but you have no recollection or proof they're not lying to you. You might not even remember who those people are either. They tell you they're your friend, husband, wife, child.. but for you it's like your first time meeting them. You might forget someone's death and when you're told it's like hearing it for the first time all over again, and you have to go through the grieving process all over again. And that won't just happen once, it can happen multiple times, because that memory is no longer there. It's slipped away like so many others. 

That is the life my granny and many others with Alzheimer's are living. My granny isn't at the point where she doesn't recognise any of us, but over the last couple of years her memory has been fading. A couple of weeks ago was the first time she didn't recognise me. Granted it was only for a few minutes. She asked who I was and said she didn't know me a few times when I came into her house, but it eventually clicked into place and she was fine. It makes sense as she seems to think she's about 66 (she's actually 85) and I wouldn't have been born then. The closest she'd been to this with me before was the time she forgot for a split second that I couldn't walk anymore. Again it makes sense because I could walk up until the age of ten. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. It strips away a person little by little and surrounds them in a fog of confusion. I imagine it can be a very scary and frustrating way to live. 

My granny and granda in March this year.

I don't want to go too into the ins and outs of how my granny's Alzheimer's affects her because it's very personal, but a couple of months ago she fell and broke her hip and spent weeks in hospital. This would be very hard on someone at the best of times, but you can imagine just how much of a toll it would take on a person living with this disease. Routine can be very important when coping with Alzheimer's and being in an unfamiliar place and around unfamiliar people can be so much more confusing and in turn, scary. The only bright side in it all was the fact she didn't actually remember why she was in there. She had no recollection of her fall and I think it says a lot about just how good painkillers can be that she had to ask what had happened!

The night my granny went into hospital, we all felt so helpless. We were sitting at home and wanted to do something for her, but there was nothing we could do. That's when my mum read online that the Alzheimer's Society were holding a Memory Walk at Stormont in the near future. She suggested we sign up and do it in support of my granny and others living with the disease. and those we know who have passed from it. It might not benefit my granny right then and there, but it felt good knowing the money we'd raise would help fund support and vital research. 

A couple of months has passed since then and tomorrow (20/09/14) is the day of the walk. I had put my donation target at £50 as I didn't want to be too ambitious and to be honest, I don't know that many people. But I have been so touched and amazed by the generosity of the few people I do know and ended up surpassing my goal exceedingly. I was disappointed to find out I could only do a 2km walk as the 10km wasn't wheelchair accessible, and worried people would think it was a bit of a joke since I'm doing it in an electric wheelchair also. But everyone has been so supportive and kind. 

I've raised almost £210 through my JustGiving page, which is far beyond what I ever could have imagined. I really couldn't thank everyone enough. I wish I could do more to deserve it, but I know it is going to such a worthwhile cause and that is what is truly important. Not what I do, but where it's going.

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