The benefits of an early diagnosis

Torbay Weekly

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.

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.