“Virtual Cuppas with Wendy” via Zoom…….

I’ve been loving ‘meeting’ people through my virtual cuppas, new friends and old. They’re open to anyone to join in, with or without a connection to dementia. We have a max of 14 people, mainly because I can’t cope with any more! and we have rules about only one person speaking at once and raising their hand or a “I want to Speak Card” or anything bright for me to see.

I’ll carry on for as long as there’s people who want to join me and they’ve all sold out so far. But you do need to book a ticket so I can keep tabs on numbers. Each has a rough theme and I try and have a guest playmate on each too…..

Another thing I found out last week on another zoom call is NOT to take piccies of the screen and publish on social media while we’re live 🙈…as this means strangers, with nothing better to do, can bomb into the meeting and disrupt it…..why on earth anyone would want to do that is beyond me, but many did as I posted a piccie on Twitter of the cast of Maggie May as we were all celebrating, what should have been, their press night in Leeds.

Yesterdays session had a theme of “Trying something new” with guest playmate George Rook. We were saying how repetition is the best way for us to learn new things. One action at a time repeated time and time again. To us it doesn’t matter if we repeat because we rarely remember, so it’s not an onerous task. George has carved some amazing whistles ….❤️…and mine was trying my hand at Flower Pressing. Such an lovely discussion, even though we had technical difficulties at the beginning. They were soon dismissed as I saw the name join us of someone I used to work with at Leeds Hospital many moons ago and I was overwhelmed that she’d taken the time to join me…

So I have another 2 sessions next week. One on Tuesday 7th at 1pm, the theme being “Taking time for me”

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/web-with-wendy-session-four-tickets-101728165682

 And another on Thursday 9th April at 11am, with “Discovering Technology” as the theme. 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/web-with-wendy-session-five-tickets-101728304096

My lovely enablers at Innovations in Dementia are making little easy to follow videos to show people how to use zoom and this link will explain how to use it on a phone

Would loved to meet people, new friends and old if you’re free……don’t forget  your cuppa!

  

A new ‘remembering, a new routine……

I think the biggest challenge so far has been to come up with a new routine with purpose to pass the time of day…..some have been successful others really havn’t….

I tried shaking my routine up on Monday, to break the monotony….BIG mistake….all I did was put the kettle on before my shower instead of after and watch BBC breakfast on my iPad upstairs instead of downstairs …..I was discombobulated for hours……😔..this change in routine confused me no end. A simple change in putting the kettle on before my shower instead of after meant, when I went back upstairs to shower I didn’t know where to start. I had to wrack my brain as I could hear the kettle boiling and that wasn’t the right noise to go with having my shower…it set me back for the rest of the day….mustn’t try that again….

Zoom ‘’get togethers’ have been my way of socially connecting with people. My regular Zoomettes meeting has always been and still is, wonderful….all women with dementia sharing laughter and tears. But many others have now been added, since travel is out of the question. But all these zooms have to be remembered over lots of crossings out on my calendar….I found that really difficult as it’s hard enough to write and read my writing. To try and write over crossings out made me feel anxious about forgetting things.

I started just putting them on my phone as reminders but then there were so many I couldn’t keep track of when they all were and started double booking 🙈…..so now set alarms and write them on my empty weekly calendar…..however even that went array yesterday as I’d put 2 of the reminders on my calendar and a different 2 on my phone 😳…it wasn’t until my alarms went off that I realised they were totally different🙈…so I had 4 yesterday which was a big mistake…..

I’ve found that two Zoom sessions a day is my max as they’re very tiring as you have to concentrate so much and by the end of the 2nd one I’m all zoomed out. At events and in meetings you can disappear into your own world for a while however with zoom  you have to concentrate really hard to keep up with everything. But it’s certainly been an entertaining way to keep connected and meet some people I’ve only ever known as ‘virtual’ names…..and it’s our only way at the mo…

 I’ve even put ‘eating’ lunch into my new routine 😱, just to have something in that routine. I only ever ate lunch was I was at events and it was put in front of me, but now a Wensleydale cheese roll with pickle is part of my new routine between 12 and 2pm…not quite sure what I’ll do when I run out of cheese 🙄😂

I always fit in a  walk while we’re allowed and take my camera with me to capture the moments….I even post them on the village web site and I’m meeting new people on my walk who suddenly realise I’m the ‘camera lady’ which has been a nice bonus….

This ‘new remembering’, new routine, has come hard to us all. I do wonder what I’ll make of it when it all ends..🤔..it already seems odd when you see old footage on TV where people are close together, going about on public transport as we once did. Think I might find it hard to go to big events, where they’ll be so many people in close proximity and sooo much noise.

It was the topic of the ‘Virtual Cuppa with Wendy’ on Tuesday – “Facing your Fears and possible solutions”. There were 3 other playmates on the call with me and 10 others and each playmate expressed the fear of how they will be when all this is over, due to lack of normal ‘doing’. Here’s just one screen of attendees…

I said how we’ll need lots of support from our ‘able enablers’ to regain some possible skills, especially of travelling,  and if they’ve gone to find new ways of doing what we love…unless it’s too late.

I ended by saying how important it is NOT to think of the end as no one knows when that will be at the mo…could be weeks, could be months. So to help us cope, simply concentrate on one day at a time.

“Enjoy today and whatever that brings, and if today is a bad day, a stressful day, then tomorrow might be better”

AND I still adore simply sitting in silence…..

Update on my speech issues……

So last week….was it really only last week 😳🙄…..I wrote about my speech problems, caused, by what I thought at the time, by not trundling and talking all day long; through the long silences that now exist in my life because I live alone……

If you missed it you can read it here:

https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com/2020/03/26/an-unexpected-consequence-of-this-strange-world/

I really did think my slurred difficult speech was due to this strange world we find ourselves in….

Well yes, in part it is affecting it that way, as I struggle more with word finding, but 2 days after writing the above blog my speech returned almost back to normal waffling. More importantly, my head cleared to work out why it had all happened…..

We now think I had another mini stroke, only I wasn’t able to realise it at the time. Because I couldn’t see my nurse daughter in person, I convinced her it was due to not being out and about speaking so much. But I also realised I’d woken with the tell tale drooping face as well, but hadn’t connected them together and thought I’d just slept awkwardly on that side of my face 🙄🙈😂….

Once my brain was back in order I could fit the pieces together. According to my blog it’s only a month since I had the last mini episode in London….gosh that seems like an eternity ago now 😳…..

 You might think I should have sought medical advice…well it was the first thing my daughters said too 🙄…but in fact, a Gp surgery is out at the mo and hospital is the last place anyone wants to trouble at the moment too (well that’s my excuse😊)….

I was actually relieved it was a mini stroke and not my speech being permanently affected. After all, I’m back to waffling as normal now, so I’m rather grateful it was that.

Me and a few of my playmates have all said how our speech is more of a challenge now, word finding slower, more gaps in our sentences, so it is still a possibility that this challenge will continue. But we’re all trying to fight it through zoom calls and through recording Dementia Diaries – at least we have those options……

So worry not, but thank you for all your concerns, my silent days are hopefully far off…..fingers and toes crossed….. well I have to uncross my fingers to allow them to type……😊

Value of technology in this strange world…..

Last Thursday saw the first of my “virtual cuppa tea with Wendy” via zoom. I’d advertised it on Twitter as a way people could join me by video for a virtual cuppa of tea. The them of that session was Living alone. I have to have a limit as I can’t cope with lots of people on the screen at once. We opened it up to 15 people to join and sold all the tickets, but as usual with these things only 9 people joined me as life takes over and other priorities occur. I say ‘only’ but in fact it was perfect.

For each session I thought I’d invite a guest playmate to join me and last week it was fellow Zoomette, Dreane,  as she also lives alone.

I knew all the peoples names from Twitter but had never met them. I invited anyone to join, with or without a connection to dementia. It was lovely to see new faces as well as old. I met playmate Gail. We’d never met but we follow each other on Twitter and it was sooo nice to talk by zoom……I met people I’d never ‘met’ before which was so nice.

We all sat with our cuppas and simply chatted. The one thing I find hard is not being able to type while on zoom as the content is lost as soon as we’re finished. Must try and find a way round this…….I had my able enabler Anna, from Minds and Voices keeping order. It’s our rule that you have to put your hand up, hold up something bright, or a ‘I Want to Speak card’ to wait your turn so that no more than one person speaks at a time….it worked so well.

I’m holding 2 more this week, one today, Tuesday and one on Thursday.

If you’d like to join me for the tea break on Thursday  2nd April at 11am UK time, you’re more than welcome. There’s still a few tickets left, or there was when I last asked. Just book your place on Eventbrite by clicking the link below ..on Thursday my guest playmate is the lovely George Rook and the theme of our cuppa will be ‘Trying something new’. Apologies for my overseas friends where the time won’t be appropriate.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/web-with-wendy-session-three-trying-something-new-tickets-101184776390

Of course, me and my fellow Zoomettes have been meeting virtually every Monday for ages, long before this new world began, so I consider myself lucky to have known how to remain connected. We didn’t have to learn how to do any of this as we knew already…..how strange that people with dementia were ahead of the game…

If you’ve never used zoom, you can watch fellow playmate Frances and our able enabler Aimee from the Zoomettes on this short instruction film which will give you a starter….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilK0WAS3Kt4

I also wrote an article about ‘giving technology a go” especially during this isolating time…for the Young Dementia UK Newsletter. You can read it here if it’s of interest.

https://www.youngdementiauk.org/technology-give-it-go-wendy-mitchell?bblinkid=211603353&bbemailid=19953210&bbejrid=1418854000

 

A Different world…..Poem…

Empty lanes and empty fields

Cars sitting quiet in the street…

The sound of bird song loud and clear

Food for the soul and music to my ear……

Feels like a different world

We’re inhabiting right now

With different routines to discover

Different guidelines to follow

No greeting friends with hugs and kisses

No touch, no physical hellos

But we can still smile a smile

Still see and hear

Remember what we do still have not what we don’t……hard as it may be….

 

An unexpected consequence of this strange world……

Before we entered this strange world we find ourselves in, I was used to travelling about, meeting new people in new environments, chatting to people all day long…..it was my sudoku, keeping dementia at bay….giving me something to fight it with…but now that social interaction has disappeared, “Talking’ to others is now a luxury. No longer am I starting off my day chatting to my taxi driver, chatting to fellow commuters, chatting to people at events and then all the way home in reverse….

Sadly this isn’t working in my favour as I’ve found myself having to concentrate so much when I do talk; have more problems word finding; find myself stuttering and grappling with words, mt speech slowing down…..a strange unexpected consequence I’d never considered. My typing is fine as I’m typing more than ever to keep in touch….

I suppose it can be compared to when I gave up typing for 2 weeks one Christmas and when I next opened my iPad I couldn’t remember what to do. I’ve never stopped typing since. Now I just find creeeping signs of the same thing happening with talking…..I’m not talking anywhere near as much, so when I do, I struggle more than before, have to concentrate on words, on sentences.….it happened within a week or so of events stopping so hopefully I’ve realised early…..even my daughters have noticed the change…

I open my mouth and the sentence in my head just doesn’t appear, this alien speaks for me and I’m so often shocked at what I hear come out of my mouth. When I talk to myself in my mind, it’s the old voice….my old voice is on the short video we made for the BBC some 5 years ago….you can listen and watch me here along with Keith and Christopher, just months after I was diagnosed…..my old voice….

 

But it’s a different voice that appears now when I speak……😔….yet when I talk to myself, in my head, it’s my old voice I can here…comforting but locked away inside my head…

I’ve been embracing this new community of ‘Zoom get togethers’ to try and avert disaster so when Anna Harrison suggested I set up my own ‘On the Web with Wendy’ – virtual chat sessions with me and a guest playmate on anything and everything, I jumped at the chance to see if I could make it work….the first session is today and has sold out, so we shall see how it goes. I plan to do 2 more next week if there’s enough interest….

On Monday, I had 3 zoom calls, the first was the first for Minds and Voices. Many hadn’t used zoom before. We had Eileen zoom in from Australia where she moved to in December!….Elaine couldn’t work out the zoom bit but had the genius idea of FaceTiming Damian, hence the reason why he’s holding up his phone on his shoulder to let Elaine take part and see us all…..so we had some gremlins but still lots of raucous laughter,

….followed by a call to help me set up my own web chat, and then my weekly Zoomettes call…

During this time of strangeness and isolation, we all need to find different ways to communicate with our fellow human beings. I find it helps me to cope with one day at a time. Think too far ahead and that’s where sadness lies as no one knows where the end is…..

I feel sooo much for those without the internet, without a smart phone….one of our playmates at Minds and Voices is one such person, so other ways are being looked at to help support her.

I’m not saying all this for sympathy. I’m trying to do everything I can to avert this irritation. I’m highlighting it to others as a warning, because people with dementia in Care Homes may no longer have any visitors; people in isolation may not speak to anyone for days; will their words escape them through lack of practice just like everything else that we don’t do frequently….? Keep talking, keep communicating….

I’m so lucky to have my virtual friends…looks like I need them more than ever now….

 

Billy the Cats view of the Corona Virus….

Billy the cat here……Wendys iPad appears to be available all day long at the moment, so I didn’t have to wait for her to have a day off as she appears to be here all the time be visiting me lots lately.

So what’s all this fuss about with you humans…? Food shortage, what food shortage…….? I’ve had at least 10 mice in the last week and they seem to be in abundance …..

Gemma working from home means there’s always someone to let me in and out…..couldn’t believe my look to begin with so I tried it several times….in, out, in out…..yep, it really works…someone at my beck and call to keep me company all day long…. ..

A car on the drive all the time means me and Toby have a good look out station for the action on the street…….

I keep hearing the words ‘Socially isolating’ ……well let them try and stop me going out…..me and my friends need to be out Hunting  in the fresh air as and when we feel like it….to mix with our fellow species. Although I do like this keeping ‘2 metres’ away as I often have to give Neil a slap if he comes to close and annoys me……

It also means just more time just sitting and pondering and watching the world go by….we also keep to our own patch – none of this ‘travelling round the country’ for us……and remember…..pets can’t pass on this nasty virus so keep cuddling us….when we allow it of course…..you humans could learn much from me and my pals…..

 

My Skydive Adventure….revisited…

Since I released on Wednesday , what my next adventure will be, how the world has changed….unrecognisable from a simple month ago……so this is the last of my previous adventures……this one from last year……

 

Well……I woke up and listened for the wind rattling my window but all I could hear were the birds…….the dreaded cancellation email hadn’t pinged into my inbox the night before so it was looking hopeful, but I’ve learnt never to trust this British weather….

It had been cancelled the last 2 weekends and I’d decided to just keep putting my name down each weekend until I did it, as long as someone could take me there! Sadly only Gemma was free on Saturday so she had drawn the short straw and was my taxi to the airfield…I actually just wanted it done now simply so I didn’t have to ask anyone again……the sadness of not being able to drive had never entered my head before but it did today. It struck me how reliant I am on my daughters sometimes. I know they don’t mind but I mind; I mind asking them to give up their time for me.

We’d been given a later arrival time of 12.30 so I was sat all morning in my bedroom (where I live during the day) staring out at the trees and willing them not to move. I eventually ran out of things to do so I ambled through the village to Gemmas

We set off in lovely sunshine….As we got closer to Bridlington the traffic started to pile up😱😳…..long queue in front of us……🥵……….the Sat Nav told us we would get there at 12.10…..20 mins to spare but it didn’t take into accounts hold ups……🤯 Gemma said…….

“ you’re getting stressed about a queue of traffic but not worried about jumping out of a plane”

😂🤣😂🤣

Anyway, we finally got to the airfield….to be met by loads of other people all there for the same reason. The shear kindness of everyone started with a lovely chappie who booked me in. More forms for Gemma to fill in and me to sign….but he was patient, he was kind, no matter how long the queue was.

We went into the waiting room filled with lots of families, chaos and noise but all was right in the world as Gemma got me a cuppa tea …. There was a viewing area outside equally filled with the current jumper’s families…..

I started to get agitated from all the waiting when suddenly I heard the engine of the plane fire up and the group before us nervously hugging goodbyes to families and making their way to the plane. 20 minutes later, the sky was filled with 3 brightly coloured parachutes making their way down and they landed in a field the other side of the trees……

Then……finally……my name was called along with 4 others to have our training……any agitation now disappeared as I was ‘doing’. A hug to Gemma patiently waiting and I was off. The training was hilarious. He kept using words like, ‘must’ and ‘must not’….well…I remembered the last ‘must’ he said. ‘Must’ lift your feet when landing……well one remembered out of however many was more than I was expecting 🤣. I kept joking with the other 4 as they were very nervous, especially one woman who was 50 that day. Her family had ‘surprised’ her the night before 🤣😂🤣 she wasn’t impressed.

Me and the young girl next to me were doing it for charity and we exchanged many looks of 😳🤪😱🙈🤣😂🤣

As soon as I said I was doing it for Young Dementia UK and that I had young dementia, everything changed. The kindness I was shown was overwhelming.

We stepped back outside to wait for our names to be called to be kitted out ready to go. It was just me and the young girl in our plane along with 2 guys who were filming us. They had to help me get kitted up as I couldn’t work out where legs arm or anything went 😂. I had Mr Pink Man who would be with me on the flight and he was just adorably kind. The cameraman was lovely too and it was he who had taken us through the training. All the photos are his doing.😍

I clambered into the plane with the 2 men hoisting me in. The others joined us and before long we were up in the air. The noise of the engine was head banging for me but the views of the coast were just stunning. Mr Pink Man gave me a running commentary of what we could see. North through Filey, Flamborough Head, Scarborough and beyond to Robins Hood Bay and the as the plane turned south to gain height the Humber came into view and the Humber Bridge!!

It took us a good 20 minutes to get to 10,000 feet, but we were entertained with laughter, jokes and the beautiful scenery. The man filming all the time for me, thank goodness.

Then……the beeping noise came telling us  we’d reached 10,000 feet and it was time to leap…..well belly flop in my case….we shuffled to the edge, one last photo

And then

Falling out of the sky with Mr Pink Man ……..

It wasn’t anything like I thought. We were speeding the rough the air at 130 miles per hour for the free fall 30 seconds before the parachute went up

And then the peace, the stillness, the silence was truly amazing. We floated down suspended in mid air……simply looking at the clouds around us and the wonderful views below. The ground looking like a finished jigsaw.

My peaceful reverie was suddenly ended by My Pink Man saying, ‘Do you fancy doing some acrobats and twirls?’……..this alien voice answered…

‘Yes!’ 😳😂🤣

And we wooshed through the air spinning this way and that at an alarming speed. I had to close my eyes at first as my eyeballs seem to want to leave their sockets, but once they’d adjusted I peeped out and it was simply wonderful and I’m sure squeals of delight must have been heard in the world down below.


It seemed like we were heading earthwards in slow motion until we got nearer and then it seem to be coming towards us at an alarming rate…. Instead of landing behind the trees we were landing right in front of the viewing area. I could see Gemma waving.
Mr Pinkman shouted ‘legs up’, but I was totally exhausted. I grabbed the leg straps as shown but I had no energy left to lift my feet up. Everyone on the ground was shouting ‘legs up Wendy’ but I had nothing left.

Mr Pinkman obviously realised this and landed us both like ducks on water and I collapsed in a heap.

All I could say was , ‘Wow, thank you’. I had a permanent smile on my face from start to finish. He hugged me then undid all the clips and fasteners and 2 men helped me back to the hanger with lots of smiling faces clapping me and the young girl. They also helped me get everything off as I couldn’t work out anything🙄

As I was helped back to Gemma, we got our certificates and made out way through to waiting families and friends. I was hugging Gemma, when

a man came over and took £20 out of his wallet, and simply said, ‘Amazing, well done’.

The kindness of friends and total strangers, have helped me raise well over £3000 for Young Dementia UK, and the experience was worth every penny.

Thank you.

p.s wonder what I’ll do next…..🤔🤣

As I said Last Wednesday, this years adventure is a Tandem Paraglide over Keswick, where I’m raising money for my support group, Minds and Voices…..I realise the time might be quite a way a way….but I will try and do it as soon as possible…..so if you’d like to find out more or sponsor me, please click the link below…..

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wendy-mitchell

p.s. This is the last time for now that I’ll mention it and don’t expect any more donations but a HUGE thank you to all those who sponsored me. I told my playmates at Minds and Voices yesterday on a zoom call and they were all thrilled and overwhelmed as our group, even in these times of non contact means so much to us. .  I will re launch whenever some normality resumes…….

My Glider Adventure – Part 2! Revisited….

Feels like I’m sharing a world we knew at the mo….

Since I released on Wednesday , what my next adventure will be, whenever that may happen…I thought I’d show you or remind you (and me!) of my previous adventures……this one is also  from 2017…the second part of my glider experience….

 

Well Fridays blog was all about getting airborne so today I’d thought I’d finish off the experience ………

So there me and Steve were up high in this amazing wonderful world of the sky, looking down at the familiar yet unfamiliar looking world below. He spent the whole time chatting and telling me what we could see.

We managed to get above a bubble of air which allowed us to go round and round in circles gaining height by 300 feet per minute. He’d warned me on the ground that many people felt immediately sick when circling but as long as you kept your head still following the glider, it was fine, but he did keep asking …..just in case😂

I managed to get one of an aeroplane flying way below us

And I spotted the road that I usually trundle along on a bus on my way to York!

But the views of the golden-yellow rape fields were my favourite

The views below were just mesmerising….there was an amazing house hidden in the wood below and they wouldn’t have a clue that we were silently flying over them….

It was a shame it was so hazy as usually you can see as far as the Pennines on one side and the Humber on the other but it didn’t matter, it was still amazing……

Finally it was time to head back, and soon the runway was back in site with everyone waiting for me by the control bus…..

The landing was amazingly smooth and the whole experience surpassed my expectation. Steve even got them to pull the glider back by tractor so I wouldn’t have to walk back across the airfield …..and what better way to celebrate than with a cuppa…..a wonderful ending to a wonderful day…..😊

On the way out what did I spy but a poster for ……wing walking…😂😂🤔

As I said on Wednesday, this years adventure is a Tandem Paraglide over Keswick, where I’m raising money for my support group, Minds and Voices…..who knows when that will be but  if you’d like to find out more or sponsor me, please click the link below…..

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wendy-mitchell