I have a mentor I am very fond of, a wise and gentle old man. We don’t see each other very often, but each time we do, we cover many topics and I come off a little wiser. The conversations often go like this… I surface a problem, he asks a few key questions, and we discuss and arrive at the conclusion. Then repeat until all problems have been covered. We do not always agree, but that is fine. More importantly, we reason things out.
We talk about many many things, but the approach is always the same. Who are the players, what is the stage; what did the players do, what drives them. Then comes the crux – what is likely to happen next and how quickly will it happen. And then we ask, is there anything we can do to influence events, and if so, what should we do, in order to ensure a good outcome. (No, we are not in politics, but politics is everywhere!)
We don’t actually meet very often, and I am so glad we could meet again a few days ago, after an interval of more than a year! Despite that, we could dive straight into discussion, and as usual, I learned quite a few things.
After we discussed work-related issues, we went on to other topics. We touched on the aged sick, and the problem of medical over-treatment thus prolonging death and suffering. We discussed gay marriage and whether it will arrive in Singapore (where sex between men is still illegal). Finally we discussed dementia. To my surprise, though I really shouldn’t be, he showed in-depth knowledge of dementia. We discussed the experiences I faced with my mom not really recognising me as described in previous blog posts (Feb 13, Apr 14, May 20).
And then he recommended I read the following book – Dancing with Dementia, by Christine Bryden. I am only halfway through it, but it has been an epiphany. Written by a dementia sufferer herself, she has given me so much new insight into how my mother must be perceiving the world and feeling inside. How little I had understood before! For example, Christine writes about her awareness and how difficult it is to perform certain tasks, such as making a cup of tea, carrying a glass of water, even walking, as the dementia progressed. I can hardly imagine how mom feels as she tries hard to carry on normally. Christine’s first book is “Who will I be when I die?” but it is not yet available on Kindle.
I am grateful to Christine Bryden for writing about her journey, and glad my mentor introduced her to me. I fully recommend it to caregivers who wish to understand better what their loved ones are experiencing as they live with dementia.