The next step was to keep my appointment at the Memory Clinic. The clinic text me the day before to remind me. I have to laugh. A reminder an hour before might be useful but the DAY before is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The appointment had been on my dummy board for the last…forever. My dummy board is a large magnetic black swan on the fridge door and if it isn’t chalked on the swan it isn’t likely to happen.
These tests are the outcome of a visit to the GP back in October, no, further back than that, a visit to a friend back in Devon during September. My memory and various other symptoms had been a cause for concern for some months prior to this trip. My mother had early onset Alzheimer’s disease and I was beginning to recognise similar traits in myself.
The visit back to Devon had been great except for computer problems which were a pain considering I was there to promote my book. Two nights before returning home, Margaret had gone to bed and with no TV or even the internet to keep me company, I decided to do the same. I could start packing my suitcase. My bedroom was a mess. I find it difficult to keep my living space tidy these days. I pick up and drop down, leaving the evidence of my day strewn in my wake. I seldom put things away anymore, they’re distributed in shambolic piles until even I can’t stand it. Then it becomes a mammoth task to clear the decks and because my stuff gets hidden away anywhere that will accept it, I struggle to find things again and the whole untidy cycle starts over.
I decided to take the dog for his last walk of the day but couldn’t lay my hands on the spare door key which for the duration of my stay was attached to my key ring. No matter, the keys would be here somewhere. I’d walk the dog then find the keys.
I returned with a sense of foreboding that is my nemesis these days.
Clearing the bedroom wasn’t easy, there were two creaking floorboards that were hard to avoid but I packed most of my belongings into my suitcase and still hadn’t found the keys. I’d now reached the all too familiar ‘looking everywhere however unlikely’ stage. Opening drawers that I know I hadn’t used because of the overpowering smell of mothballs. The keys weren’t there, they weren't anywhere.
I felt rising panic. My whole life was on that key ring. I went downstairs and sat in the armchair and wept and prayed that the keys would become manifest. I was angry because I’d lived through this scenario before with my mum. In the early stages of her dementia it was her handbag that she ‘lost’ umpteen times a day. I don’t use a handbag to lose it. I have pockets into which go my mobile phone, tissues, wallet and keys. These and my glasses which I wear all the time and still manage to leave home without them, are on the checklist I try to adhere to before moving outside the door.
Stressed and fatigued beyond belief I lay down on the settee to sleep. The lounge is near the front door and I felt the need to guard the door that I was unable to lock. I slept fitfully.
Margaret came downstairs at 5am. I explained why I’d slept on her settee. She goes out to her car and returns with the keys.
‘They were in the glove compartment.’ She tells me.
We’d been out for dinner the night before and Margaret had driven.
‘But,’ I explain, ‘I remember asking you if I needed my keys and you said no.’
She answers me with a furrowed brow.
‘That conversation took place four days ago.’
I have no recollection of the circumstances surrounding that four day old conversation and I’m not prepared to argue my case. The evidence is too strong against my version of events. I’m just relieved to see the keys.
So that was the catalyst for making my first appointment with the doctor to air concerns that had been simmering on the back burner for months.