Saturday, October 10, 2015

I still have a daddy

There can’t be many milestones in life other than getting married, having a baby and putting your dad into an old folk’s home.

I have now done all three.

The first two were easier than the last one.

For those who follow me on facebook and twitter you will already be aware of my dad’s slow slide into dementia.
Dad has lived alone for seven years since my step mum succumbed to cancer.

I have heard him having a stroke whilst we were chatting on the phone when I was in Los Angeles and managed to get him swift care. Since then the sly sneaking horrible bastard that is dementia has been crawling around his brain looking for wee spaces to hide in and reveal itself whilst he was at his most vulnerable.

Nothing is more soul wrenching than watching your dad feel terrified that he is a factory and nobody will help him get out.

We tried being with him everyday in his own home and the social care from Glasgow NHS and Glasgow council has been utterly brilliant the NHS mental health people are fabulous. Dad’s care worker Mark even counselled me when I sat in floods of tears outside my venue at Edinburgh Fringe. Dad had a bad day and called me hysterical. Mark called me and reassured me I was doing the best I can.

Dad was escaping his house and upsetting the neighbours with his constant vulnerability. My dad has great neighbours and they have all grown up together so it was hard for them to see the wee proud private man look confused outside their door.

I got emergency respite in a care home 66 steps from my front door. I can see him 5 times a day or more if I please. He looks peaceful and feels secure and now when he gets a dementia ‘attack’ the staff and I are usually there to reassure him.

Tonight I went to see him before I went onstage. He was lying on his bed listening to his radio; he smiled when I came into his room. I slipped my shoes off dropped off my jacket and climbed up beside him and he shuffled over. He hugged me and we listened to Dr Hook and Eagles songs.  I nearly feel asleep!
 “Janey you need to get to work” he said.

He seems ok. I feel ok. I still have my daddy.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Dementia Sucks

It’s 7am the phone rings. My husband immediately sits up and answers the phone. He is quiet, I can hear my dad shouting down the line and husband says “look, am on my way calm down”.

My husband has his clothes and shoes on the floor, ready to run like a criminal on the lam. He is dressed in seconds, his hair stands on end, he doesn’t brush his teeth and he belts out the door. He is going to sit with my dad who is convinced that today he is in a factory and is being held hostage. I have to get ready for a radio comedy show. I can’t go with him; I have to be funny in a wee while.

My dad has dementia. The smart wee Glasgow man who has blue twinkly eyes, who could build a radio from scratch when he was eight years old, who raised four kids and built a skateboard for me in 1967, was slowly having his memory and cognitive abilities eaten by a rabid shitty greedy thing called dementia.

The man who carried me over puddles, who explained sea weed couldn’t eat me despite my big brothers telling me it could, the man who tried to make sense of my mum being murdered in the early 80s and his second wife dying from cancer six years ago….this wee working class man who achieved 34 years of sobriety was crumbling in front of me. My heart is breaking.

It’s been two years of a quick sand effect of watching him struggle with the world interspersed with him locking eyes with me telling me how much he loves me and how proud he is of me. I still climb halfway onto his knee and let him rest his soft warm palm on my cheek as he sings “My wee Janey Paney” to me. He is still my dad.

Today we had to organise emergency care respite as he has been wandering outside and making everyone panic. Despite alarms and constant care attending, the minute he is alone he is out that door. He will soon move to a full time care home.

My heart hurts. Go fuck yourself dementia.