Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This one's for you Mum

As I haven't written about my reasons for supporting the Alzheimer's Research Trust on this blog I thought I should perhaps tell mum's story here so people understand why it's so important to me.

In 1997 my mother, then aged 81, had a series of minor strokes.  Shortly after that we started to notice behavioural changes notably memory loss and confusion over everyday items.  We thought it was just old age finally catching up with her.  Then she started wandering and had violent mood swings.  Although she already lived with us it became obvious that she couldn't be left alone for long and so I left my job to care for her. 

The next few years saw a gradual decline into the blackness that is 'vascular dementia'.  My normally placid mum became violent and aggressive.  She had psychotic incidents where she would see imaginary people (children hiding in her wardrobe, Russians sitting on the stairs, women stealing her clothes) and she would shout at them and sometimes throw things too.  She was so convincing that we used to go and check that there wasn't anyone there! 

When my sister died 7 years ago mum did not know who Judy was or that she was her daughter.  The moment I realised she no longer knew that I was her daughter was a terrible time for me.  In the last 2 years that she lived with us, life for us all became almost unbearable as she needed 24 hour care - she couldn't be left alone at all because she would either wander off or hurt herself, she never slept for more than 30 minutes at a time during the night, she became incontinent and incapable of doing anything for herself. 

Finally my husband and I realised that we could no longer provide her with the care that she needed and she went to live the last few months of her life in a home for the "elderly mentally inform" or EMI unit where Harry and his team did a splendid job caring for her.  There she lived a zombified existence unaware of who she was, what she was or where she was.  It was heartbreaking.  She died in March 2005, the day after her 89th birthday. I've been running marathons in her memory ever since.

Thank you for taking the time to read mum’s story.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A question of bad taste?

A huge thank you to the fantastic staff of South East Water who raised an amazing total of £257.87 through their April cake day. As well as the sale of cakes a 'bad taste' day was also held where staff entered a competion for the most clashing outfit! The day resulted in a feast of colours (which to a colour magnet like me is not necessarily bad taste) and some great stories.
Cindy (pictured here in the fab 70's outfit) was brave enough to performed a courier run on the day in her outfit which resulted in extra donations from the staff and customers at her coffee stop!!!
This has given me some ideas for our event on the Isle of Wight in the next couple of weeks but I'm not sure how many of my great volunteers will still want to collect with me if I suggested we draw even more attention to ourselves!

A big personal thanks from myself to my very good friend Simone Ruddle for putting us forward and organising the bad taste day as well as to South East Water for their generous support. Sarah