The benefits of an early diagnosis

A multi-generational family walking up a grassy hill together at sunset with the ocean in the backgr

My family and my children are my life - Credit: Getty Images

Norrms McNamara, founder of the Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign:

It was my birthday a few weeks ago and I was surrounded by all my family and some friends, not to mention all the birthday greetings I received over the internet as well.

It was quite overwhelming but I appreciated it so much.

While my children and grandchildren were visiting, I started to think of them one by one as they played and chatted to me and among themselves.

I found myself staring at them, unintentionally, and wondering what would become of them in the future and what they would look like?

The sudden realisation that I might not be there to see this for myself or at least remember any of it hit me like a lightning bolt!

My family and my children are my life and the thought of forgetting all this or not being there made me shudder like never before.

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Maybe it was the emotions of the day mixed in with a little self-pity but it raised a couple of points in my mind.

Is it a curse to be told so early on in life of my dementia journey?

Does being diagnosed with having dementia blessing or a death sentence? 

I keep thinking OK, so I forgot a few things and set the kitchen on fire twice due to forgetfulness but did I really want to know it was dementia that was causing it?

Have I benefitted from knowing or has it just added to my depression I already had at being diagnosed with heart failure a few years earlier?

And more importantly, would I have been better off not knowing and just slowly slide into dementia in my own ignorance and denial? 

 A lot to think about, but as I looked at my children and grandchildren, laughing, and playing, filling the house with love and warmth and being the eternal optimist I am, I thought yes I wouldn’t change a thing.

If I didn’t know I had this horrid disease then I wouldn’t have gone to the consultant for help.

He wouldn’t have then prescribed me with Ebixa when I was deemed to be getting worse, and the most important thing of all, I wouldn’t have planned anything for the future for my family and I.

At least now I know what’s to come and I purposely spend that much more time with my family and friends.

Now I know I can talk to my family about my illness and by them knowing they can also relate to my 'off' or 'cloudy' days as I call them and they can deal with it in their own way.

They are also prepared for what the future may hold and there will be no shocks if I get worse.

So there I sat, still looking at my children and grandchildren when a great big smile came over my face and I found myself grinning from ear to ear.

The five year old came over and asked: “Grandad, what’s so funny?" He had a puzzled look on his face.

As I scooped him up onto my knees, I noticed everybody had turned round to see what he was looking at and why he had asked what he did.

I simply replied: “You are, you all are!”

And I’m the luckiest man in the world to have such a wonderful family!

It was big hugs all round and then back to playing with the youngest children.

As you have probably guessed by now, I have never really grown up myself and I don’t think I ever want too.