Tuesday, June 04, 2013


I was worried.....can I stop now?

People of my age will relate to a simple phrase...."I'm worried about Jim".
It was seemingly uttered often by Mrs Dale in the radio serial Mrs Dale's Diary (1950's and 60s) about her husband Dr Dale.
And people of my age (and younger) can relate to my own simple phrase "I'm worried about Bill".
We all have our worries as we grow older.
But in the last few months I have to admit that my dear husband has been giving cause for concern to me and those who have been with him have also noticed the changes.
When the changes include memory problems it becomes almost a done deal that a person is heading for dementia.
People talk about senile dementia, in particular Alzheimer's disease, much more these days than they used to. Once people suffering would have been shut away and people would have hushed up the situation.
There is no doubt that I have been worried. Each time Bill forgot something that seemed basic and should be known, I added to the worry.
As we sat on Box Hill yesterday evening I tested him a little......he didn't know the name of the Prime Minister; he didn't know the name of the village we went to on Friday to see Bluebell railway trains; he didn't know the name of the actor who has just announced that he will no longer play Dr Who.....Jon Pertwee was his reply. He was sure it was Jon Pertwee. Actually Jon Pertwee was Dr Who from 1970 to 1974.
There have been so many similar examples over the last few months.
Bill has lost confidence and interest in things.
He is sleeping a great deal.
Some of this might, in part, be part of growing older.....but it is not normal. Something is not right.

So I was really worried when we went together for an appointment that I had made to see our GP.
What was this the beginning of?
At the moment I am happy to love and care for my man when he needs it.And I am happy that we can enjoy trips out together and life is somewhat normal.
Was I destined to reach a time when caring for my man might become impossible.

Our GP is a very good doctor and things get done by him quickly and reliably. There are times when he seems almost offhand and not completely listening or understanding........but after many years as his patient, we know that he is listening and will give us the best possible care.
He scanned my page of notes that I made to introduce the subject.
Notes felt necessary - hard to walk in and say "I fear my husband is losing his mind" whilst husband is sitting there.
The doctor then reached in his case for notes on this theme.
He had the standard questions to ask.
"Oh come on, doctor" I pleaded inside....."He is not yet ready for the nursing home......if this is a serious problem, we are only at the early stages"
Yes, Bill knew the date.
He knew what town we were in.
he could recognise a phone, a stapler and a pen......and remember 2 of them when asked a bit later.
He could spell the word WORLD backwards.
He could copy interlinking shapes.

As a result of this, the doctor announced that he was sure that Bill did not have Alzheimer's.
Relief or disbelief?
Look,  I trust that doctor......so relief, I guess.
At this stage nothing is definite.
But the doctor had some ideas...one in particular.
 Bill has a form for blood tests - including one for under active thyroid.

Well, talk about clutching at straws!
Of course I have looked up under active thyroid (hypothyroidism).
And yes....it could be.
Hypothyroidism can be (and normally is)  caused by an autoimmune problem.
Bill already has one of those - rheumatoid arthritis
Other symptoms include fatigue..... Bill sleeps so much....feeling cold (doctor will have seen Bill was wearing a thick jumper on a warm day)......muscle aches, stiffness and pain (had that for ages).

When hypothyroidism isn't treated, signs and symptoms can gradually become more severe. Constant stimulation of your thyroid gland to release more hormones may lead to an enlarged thyroid (goiter). In addition, you may become more forgetful, your thought processes may slow, or you may feel depressed.

Well, you can understand why this straw has been clutched at.
The treatment is quite simple.
If Bill has hypothyroidism I know we can cope.
We can't stop getting older and we can't stop succumbing to some problems of old age.......but we do need to be able to keep thinking, to continue having  functioning minds.
We'll not be able to do everything for ourselves maybe - but a reasonably normal life should be possible.

I have to admit that we are still at the stage of knowing nothing.
Bill will have the blood tests tomorrow morning.

I thank all the people who have listened to my worries and given me support.
Your support has helped me to be sure  wasn't imagining things.
With the support I have learned to be more patient and find strengths within me to cope.
I can only now go on being patient (with occasional lapses!) and together we can enjoy life.