Dementia: ‘Pick Your Battles’

I don’t know if I’ve blown it; I think it’s possible I talked too much.  The problem was I must have been storing it all up for our first meeting.  I’d known for a week or so that I would be seeing Mel for the first time yesterday and too much had gone on since Heather’s departure.  Oh – by the way Mel is my new Admiral Nurse.

We met at the same place I’d often met Heather.  The café at Harrison House, our Mental Health Unit.  It is a good place to meet.  It brings back so many ‘happy’ memories from my incarceration in the Unit, a few years ago.  Whenever I am in the building it serves to remind me of my recovery from a serious mental health episode.  Once inside the place my thoughts turn to Irving Kirsch and how his book started me on the road to escaping from a life-time on antidepressants.  It is on my ‘Bucket List’ to meet Irving in person.  I want to thank him personally for helping me to realise that it was how I was interacting with my environment, not ‘chemical imbalance’, that had been causing years of depressive episodes.

Being in Harrison House also helps me keep to the forefront of my mind that dementia is not mental illness.  No-one has been able to help me make sense of dementia being under the umbrella of mental health:  it is brain injury not a mood disorder   Maureen has had unhelpful experiences from a mental health approach to dementia and it’s attention to mood.  I recall staff from the Memory Service offering to help her if her mood was low: otherwise discharge from the Service would follow.  This does no make any sense whatsoever.  Sorry about all of that, you can see I feel strongly on these matters ….now back to Mel.

I remember little of what she said.  She just let me talk.  I wonder if Heather had told her that I liked the sound of my own voice so she just let me ramble on.  No wait a minute: it’s all coming back to me now there was something that she said about ‘picking your battles’.  Seems she weighed me up very quickly.  She sussed that I am often trying to change the world and has encouraged me to be more realistic.  Not directive in the least because the choice of battles is mine.

We spent about an hour or so chatting.  Rather me talking and Mel listening.   Next time we are together it will be a threesome, as we are sitting down with Sue our new social worker.  Mel is also keen to be in on my Blog circles to keep a wayward eye on what’s going on here.  She has also confirmed that Emails and phone calls  were still a good way to keep in touch.  The bonus here is I have already experienced the importance she places in responding to communication.  If you leave a message for Mel she gets back to you: just like her predecessor always did.

Pick your battles eh; that’s a good one.   Once you’ve met one Admiral Nurse you’ve met one Admiral Nurse.  However Heather and Mel have two important things in common; lots of empathy and compassion.  Oh I’ve forgotten another: they are not only prepared to sit and listen; they actually hear what you say because they understand dementia.

7 thoughts on “Dementia: ‘Pick Your Battles’

  1. Hi Paul
    Quick hello from me before I nip off to the hospital.
    Glad your new AN seems to be good. Wise advice to pick your battles for all of us I think.
    Hope you can get to see your mum, brother, children soon.
    Love to you and Maureen


    1. Thanks more good news for me this morning. Maureen didn’t have such a good time with a different carer. Just about to post some detail. Hope things went well at hospital.


  2. It’s all such a roller coaster isn’t it. The hospital is working towards discharge now. I have booked respite next week but am worrying about how I will get my husband to the CH, as it’s not safe for me to get him out on my own. Contacted St John’s Ambulance and they will charge £110 per journey to take him the 3 miles to the CH. So £210 just for travel for two night’s respite plus the CH fees on top.
    Hope it was just a blip with Maureen and the new carer, and they will settle down. It does take time sometimes.


    1. Yes it certainly is a roller coaster. The old chinese curse: May you have an interesting life’ personified. More on the new carer tomorrow. Those charges for moving your husband about are a bit stiff. Bst go she is in tears now; ‘feeling sorry for herself’ she says. Good luck with the respite.


    1. Mel has lived difference and that is what dementia is for long periods of her life. Her parents were mental health nurses and worked in all sorts of settings. Empathy and compassion are in her DNA. You can’t get her perceptive insight from books or placements. She is ace and not full of the mumbo jumbo of political correctness.


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