The Alzheimer's Diaries: a love story

By Susan Elkin

A sardonic, powerful, loving, diarized account of caring for a partner with Alzheimer’s

Monday, 23 August 2021

Stress

Last Friday marked the second anniversary of Nick’s death so, inevitably I did a lot of thinking back. What I remembered most, was the anguished frenetic stress which dogged the months before 20 August 2019 and then the surreal peace which followed it.

You don’t, of course, realise just how stressed you are until you’re not. And it does strange things to you. There was the night, for example, when I stopped the (automatic) car on the top of a slope, failed to park it properly and got out. The inevitable happened and I was very, very lucky there was nothing coming – thank goodness I was on my own too. I still go cold even thinking about that. Or there was the time that I simply forgot – unprecedentedly – to turn my phone off at Jermyn Street Theatre and it rang. Oh the embarrassment! Or take the occasion that – utterly exhausted by the situation I was dealing with – I fell asleep during a show at Tunbridge Wells. The lovely woman next to me gently woke me up and, when I confessed the truth to her, got me a cup of tea in the interval and I’ve remained in touch with her ever since. All these incidents happened of course because I was determinedly (foolishly?) trying to work at the same time as being a full-time carer to a dying man.

And then, on 20 August at 9pm it all stopped -  a bit like going though a terrifying, loud, buffeting storm at sea and then turning round a cape into calm seas. Work then became a solace. During Nick’s final weeks in Lewisham Hospital I was dimly aware that I had a deadline coming up for a bi-monthly for which I usually  write seven or eight thousand words of copy. I had simply, in my stress, refused to think about it. Three days after his death when my sons had gone home I was in terra incognita thinking “Now what?” Then I remembered that copy I was supposed to be producing (deadlined the following week) and spent the next several days doing it. Thus, as ever, the routine of ordinary work was a real help and comfort because it helped me ease myself back to some sort of normality.

So that’s what’s been going through my mind these last few days. Anniversaries are like that.

Thanks to everyone who has helped get The Alzheimer’s Diaries 56% funded. We’re getting there, folks. Can you help me spread the word still further?  

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