The difficulty of getting back to normal……

I’ve always noted that 3 days away is the maximum my dementia can cope with; after that living out of a suitcase becomes the norm and being away become the new norm. So to avoid the stress I restrict myself to that 3 nights away max……..However Italy was 4 Nights and 5 days so I knew adjusting to home was going to be a challenge.

I’d already typed in my notes that I was in the lift one day in Italy towards the end and had said, ‘Italy is now my new normal’. I’d fallen into that hole dementia creates, where it erases all past ‘normal’ for me and creates a new one. I felt comfortable, I knew where I was, I knew the routine, I was with people I trusted. But there was that sinking feeling in my stomach of going back home and not recognising my real ‘normal’…..😔…….

The beauty of a ‘normal’ in Italy…

The only thing remotely close to liken it to is changing from a automatic to manual car……that feeling of strangeness of new controls, new ways of driving and then the manual suddenly becoming the new normal…. But instead of it taking a few drives for it to become natural, imagine a week of constant 24 hr driving for it to become normal…………

Sarah drove me home from the station when we arrived back in the UK and it felt familiar but not normal…..I know I needed to enter my house alone. I needed to fight the confusion without anyone there to distracty me.

I walked round and round my house, up and down the familiar stairs……but it didn’t feel ‘normal’. I’d left my normal behind in Italy. The feeling I had was of an old friend that I hadn’t seen for years. I had to get to know them again. I felt uncomfortable……

I took my suitcase upstairs, opened it and wondered where to put everything. It was like discovering my rooms again.  I glanced in the bathroom and worry took hold about how to use the shower……that would wait until the morning…….

I sat on my bed and looked through the book Molly had given me – filled with photos of the places we’d been and walked…..I think……one normal fading, another coming back into view, and I looked up and saw the familiar squirrels chasing each other round the tree tops outside my window…..

It was the smells, the feelings of my house that felt comforting.

I found that if I thought about processes….I got confused….if I just ‘did’….my body remembered…..the shower in the morning….I’d looked at it the night before and couldn’t work it out but in the morning I decided to simply ‘do’; not think about it …and it worked…….

Trying to get my brain to remember seemed impossible, but my body was more capable, thank goodness……

It took me several days to feel snug. I was grateful for the 3 days off I had to make ‘normal’ once more this old friend of mine….and now my house is ‘normal’ again. Is it the same normal as before, who knows, but it’s my normal, new or old.

The other strange happening was when I went to my daughter Gemmas to be fed. I hadn’t been there for food for probably 2 weeks. I felt like I was entering a new strange house. Their familiar smiles and hugs taking away the fear.  The routine had gone and, just as with home, I needed to create a new routine, needed to feel ‘normal’ again. How dreadful for me to feel like that in their house, where I felt so welcome before….dementia has a lot to answer for….

Remember, this is my experience; this is what dementia does to me; others may be different. But that’s why I totally understand people with dementia not wanting to leave the safety of their own environment, how they struggle while on holiday – all makes perfect sense to me…..but I wouldn’t have missed that adventure to Italy for anything. I fought dementia while I was away and I’ll fight it again now I’m home………

The beauty of my village pond ‘normal’ at home…

About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

12 thoughts on “The difficulty of getting back to normal……

  1. I admire so much how you write and evoke so much, of your experience not just with dementia but also just living and being. Thank you for sharing with us. This post really spoke to me and I think helped me relate to what otherwise would seem so foreign. You have such a gift of expression.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Wendy,

    It might sound absurd, but right now , to me, it sounds lucky for you, to live on your own and so to make your decissions just on your account. My friend, I told you about, is taken to places all over the country mostly for 2 days every other week. Her husband is doing seminars. I find her upset, nervous and irritated for at least the next day, when she is back. I hadn‘t realized, that it can well be (although I just learned from you: it must not) that she has to find back into her normal life. Thank you so much, for letting me have this new aspect.

    Be well, dear Wendy,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Boy, can I relate to this! I like car trips as opposed to planes, but each time we stop in a different city or hotel, it’s a challenge! I feel like an alien visiting another planet. A few times we have had to leave and go back home, or different city because I get so anxious when away from my routine. Thank goodness we went to Italy for 2 weeks almost 20 years ago! I’ve given up going to Paris for this reason. Flying from Florida would be 9 hrs, that is challenging enough for someone who never liked flying to begin with, never mind all that goes with it as you so well wrote.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As always thank you! You never claim to be any expert, except perhaps your own, but your reasoning ~ the why behind things adds so much value to everything you write. I am humbled by your insight, bravery and eye for a great photograph!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I found your explanations of the re-entry process very interesting. This is a helpful perspective to understand. I am passing it along to my friend whose mother is newly dealing with symptoms of dementia. Thanks so much, Wendy, for writing about this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

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