When I was a teenager my mum used to tell the story of a patient she nursed, who was deranged. He used to say repeatedly “What’s donuts?” To which he’d reply to himself “shit with sugar on top.” She told me this story repeatedly and we laughed a thousand laughs at the idiocy of such a weird thing to say, despite the fact the poor guy was bonkers. It seemed insanely funny then… but now it’s not so amusing because it is a poignant reminder of my real life shit-with-sugar-on-top; caring for my mum with dementia.
My mum, a former registered nurse, is now a dementia sufferer. I am her middle-aged, doggedly dutiful, often stressed and emotionally-drained daughter. For nearly 2 years my involvement in her life has been constant and all-consuming. My young son often quips “You love your mum more than me” and my husband has said “you spend more time with your mum than with me.” In many ways caring for someone with dementia is like having a baby again only it is 10 times more stressful.