It’s been almost two years since I last wrote for this blog, in fact wrote anything at all. A stretch of time which was taken up with caring for a dear loved one until the end. But now I’m beginning another part of my life and gradually, oh, so gradually, I’m starting to write again, not long involved pieces but short articles for various newsletters on a subject I learned a lot about over the past two years – dementia.
This terrible, incurable illness is no respecter of persons, waiting generally until old age before visibly striking. But over many previous years it has been insidiously creeping through brain cells and destroying them. Looking back, I can see many tiny signs that we missed, symptoms that we dismissed as one offs, as typical of the ageing process and pushed aside. Not that anything much could have been done as like many neurological diseases, dementia in all its forms is incurable. It is terminal.
Depending on your “luck” you can have it for many years, or it can rampage through the body in no time at all. We weren’t lucky. Our form of dementia took only three years from first diagnosis until death.
But dementia has also given me a way back into writing. Capital Theatres in Edinburgh have a dementia programme, ensuring that their premises and performances are as dementia friendly as possible, and publish a dementiArts newsletter 4 times a year. I have been writing a column, Hidden Lives, about the previous lives of those now living with dementia: a musician, a potter, a marathon runner, an acrobat, an inventor – all sorts of people with amazing and fascinating stories to tell of what they’ve done and been.
I’m also still very much involved in our local dementia group and write about our activities and outings. Life doesn’t stop because you have dementia – you only need to read Wendy Mitchell‘s blog to realise that!
So back to the keyboard and get busy! I wonder if the past two years have enabled my writing brain to lie fallow, to take a break and let what happened percolate through my mind to emerge at some later date as a rich harvest of subject matter – if that’s not mixing metaphors, overwriting and generally producing purple prose!
How have you managed to put your life together again after a loss, an illness, a change of circumstances?