So this is my Nan. The delectable Joanie Louie Brickell.
Yep, she's wearing my sunglasses and doing her finest Stevie Wonder impression.
18 months ago this strong-willed, fiesty woman began to fade a bit. Her memory was dropping in and out and simple day to day things started to become really hard work for her. Our little tiger got diagnosed with dementia and things have been a rocking roller coaster ever since.
There are days when we panic within an inch of our lives that she's off out wandering in the night again or she's gone to eat the chicken she's left out for four days. There are days when we get so frustrated with the constant questions and repetition of the same made up story. There are days that we feel guilty for being short tempered with her.
There are days when we get really angry at the world for a bit for putting her through it.
Then there are days that are pure golden. Without intent she will absolutely crack you up and pull a stunt that even the finest comedy writers couldn't put their hands to. The woman is a comedy genius. And completely oblivious to it.
Last week the oxygen thief that is Katie Hopkins came out and called dementia patients 'bed blockers' and complete half wits that go about their lives agreeing with the low life took to Twitter to come out with some real classics such as 'if animals had such little quality of life, we'd put them down'...if ever there was a target for trolling, that was it.
To be honest the comments turned my stomach but in true Jo fashion I decided to look at things from the funny side.
I wanted to write this blog for a few reasons really. Firstly to stick a finger up at people with such awful views and to highlight that in their own little world, dementia sufferers are often having a ball and have a great quality of life. It makes no sense to anyone else but for the most part they are content. If and when the time comes that they require hospital care, they deserve just as much as the next well minded man. So here's the finger...
Secondly, I wanted to write this not as a way to laugh at this terrible condition but to provide a light hearted read for people out there that are dealing with a loved one who's suffering. I hope someone, somewhere will read this, chuckle and feel slightly better knowing they aren't the only ones dealing with the utter madness.
Thirdly, I wanted to write it for my family. We are pisstakers by default and no ailment, illness or serious problem is exempt from the sarcastic retorts of the Irwins. This is our way of dealing with what is, in fairness, a really horrible situation.
So here it is. The comedy gold that can come from knowing someone with dementia.
The World According to Joanie Brickell - The Highlights.
- That time she started using a jay cloth to blow her nose instead of a tissues because, well, why wouldn't you do that?
- The invention of Teoffee - yep you got it - Tea & Coffee all in the same cup. She couldn't remember what you asked for two minutes previous so you are getting both. It's surprisingly not awful. Props to my Uncle for always necking it and not batting an eye.
- Whilst on the hot beverage front, that time that for no reason at all she put soap powder in the coffee jar, mixed it all up and tried to serve it as an appropriate cup of sauce to dip your biscuits in.
- Then there was the time she offered to make us breakfast. We accepted (to our peril) and were presented with three pork pies and a bowl of Haribo. And a teapot of TeOffee. Standard.
- The conviction that the cash point is actually the work of Wizards. It's like magic that!
- The disdain at the woman on a voicemail. I mean she is, and I quote 'a snooty fucking cow' for telling Nan that my Mum is unavailable to speak. Yep you heard it hear first.
- The invention of Chicken Korma Pasta Bake. That was actually pretty fit to be fair.
- The time we arrived to find Nan's hair covered in what looked like breadcrumbs. After washing and conditioning it for her we realised why. She was finishing the at home salon job off with a bottle of deodrant rather than hairspray. Give her some due, her hair smelt lush! Her underarms, however, were crunchy as.
- The sandal wearing in December. Fashionista.
- The need to fry oven chips in butter to go with any meal. They are OVEN chips love. OVEN.
- When you arrive to find her wearing every single bit of jewellery she's ever owned. My girl looks like a white Mr T...five rings on each finger, three necklaces and two watches. Just to sit indoors. Ballin'.
- When she tells you that all the doctors off Holby City were crowding round her bed the other night. Did you know they only 'fuck off home' if you push the big red button on the remote. True story kids. Listen and learn.
- Then there's the people that live upstairs and keep her awake all night. In her single story bungalow...
-...and the fact that my uncle keeps on making a 140 mile round trip to sneak in during the night to steal her bread, make her a sausage sandwich that she'll leave to go green and untune her TV. He is a bastard for that in fairness. Ever so light fingered when it comes to baked goods.
- When she asks the meals on wheels lady if tomorrow's menu will include...wait for it...
Hairy Onion Baked Bullock Roll.
Head. In. Hands.
- Or when she does the washing up with fabric softener. Lush.
- Then there's the time that it's your birthday...in April...and my girl sends you a Christmas card.
& last but not least.
- That hard time when Pat next door died.
And she wondered why he wasn't very chatty.
And then they had that party for him when he got taken off in a big old crate on the back of a van.