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Friday, 24 April 2015

Emotional lability makes early-onset dementia seem likely

This is mum walking in the park outside the nursing home with her new four-wheeled walker. I drove up to the nursing home today again to visit her. On the way in the car I listened to the ABC's local radio channel and wept silently as they talked about the SES volunteers responding to emergency calls due to the recent storms. I cried as I was driving the car. They were talking about other local SES teams from country towns travelling to Sydney to help out in the metropolis.

I find myself crying at odd times like this these days. I find my emotions are labile and likely to overflow at the most untoward moments. I am not entirely in control of my life. I recognise this but what can I do about it?

I have been going to an employment counsellor in an effort to find paid work but I think that if I get a regular job I will be working during business hours Monday to Friday and so if I get paid work now I think I won't be able to go and visit mum as often as I do. There's a reason to think about this. In November the haematologist on the Sunshine Coast we visited for a consultation gave mum six months to live based on her diagnosis of myelodysplasia. If I go to work I might miss time with mum. I don't know how much time she has left. She might make it to her next birthday in October. She might make it to next year. Who knows?

But my emotional lability reminds me of how my father got in the years I last knew him, in 2006 and 2007, before he finally went into the nursing home on the Sunshine Coast. He would break out into tears at the slightest provocation. I am becoming like him. And my losing my memory these days makes me think I might be contracting early-onset dementia. The thing is that the whole of my father's generation in the family - my father and his sister, my mother and her brother - got dementia. It is more than likely that I will also get it. Why not now?

If emotional lability is an indicator of dementia then I must surely be a candidate for diagnosis. But the apparent loss of memory is even more alarming. I enter sentences and then come up against blank spaces as the right words disappear. I find myself suddenly hesitating as I speak, before at length locating the right word and carrying on with the utterance. Today I tried to remember the word "meringue" until mum got it before me. The lost memory seems to be working in synch with the emotional lability. Am I losing my mind?

I came home this afternoon and not long ago cut up some brie and had it with Salada crackers and a couple of glasses of Adelaide Hills chardonnay. The wine I'll keep on going with until I cook dinner in about 45 minutes from now. But I read a blgopost about Anzac Day a few minutes ago and again I started to cry. The slightest thing does it, and that's the thing that worries me the most. Along with the fragile memory.

It reminds me that the weather calculator on the Sydney Morning Herald website last night - when it read "thunderstorms" - was wildly incorrect as it was actually a mild and cloudless night in Sydney. And the Apple weather predictor for Sydney was way off, apparently, a few days ago when it immodestly predicted sleet and snow for a city where such conditions never apply. Perhaps these programs are like my internal compass, my bodily gauge, which seems to have sprung a leak and is now veering unsteadily out of its normal groove. Maybe I need to recalibrate. More chardonnay perhaps?

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