That INSOLENT girl!


By Anna Nogueira Nicolau

I had just about decided that it was time to go downstairs and face the wrath of the little lady.

I had not been in the job 10 minutes until Dorothy’s rage was unexpectedly (and dare I say: quite unfairly) thrust upon me. But then again to her eyes who the hell was I? She didn’t know I was her carer. She didn’t even know there was anything wrong with her deeming her to be in need of care. I did tell her that I was there to take care of ‘things’, of the house and to do whatever she wanted me to. So basically… I introduced myself as her servant. But did she remember that? Even if she did: I was still a stranger, and what do strangers NOT do when they are left with you for the first time? Lock you in your own house! Gosh she had every right to flip out at me. How would I feel if I thought there was nothing wrong with me and suddenly I’m left with someone who I can only assume is a lunatic trying to kidnap me in my own house? Hmm….
Putting myself in other’s shoes always did give me a more understandable angle at which to view a difficult situation, and made forgiving someone’s rash actions much easier. But I still hurt. I had just gone through years of University, constantly in need as I scraped for money. I had just moved to London and got into a well paying job. Things were going great for me. I would have all the money in the world to save for the future and to enjoy all of the infinite things London had to offer on my days off! But this just hurt so much. Was I prepared to sell my dignity for this? I had always thought of myself as someone who felt a lot of respect for the elderly, but then again that was before I got talked to like a dog – by a very nasty owner.

‘Calm down Anna’ – I whispered to myself  – ‘don’t let your emotions judge the situation. Dorothy is bound to have been as scared as you. It has been a while since you heard her pacing and cursing by the front door and given that she has dementia and you gave her some space she has probably forgotten the whole thing.

But I couldn’t have predicted what happened. I entered the front room to find Dorothy angrily pointing her finger at a vulgar, loud woman on the Jeremy Kyle show. Along with finger pointing came shouting.  What was going on?? Had she forgotten? Why was she now angry at the TV? As she turned to see me I stood there literally expecting ANYTHING by now. I was warmly greeted. What I was told baffled me:

“Oh, where is that girl?”

“What girl?”

“That INSOLENT girl! I am so angry! Is she gone??”

By then I realised I was the insolent girl. But at that exact moment I was not I. I was whoever Dorothy thought I was: someone who she felt it was safe enough to confide her feelings about the front door incident to. I took it as an opportunity. I was going to hear everything she had to say about me.

“That insolent girl telling me what I could and couldn’t do. In my own house! My own house! They’re always trying to keep me in this house! Why? I don’t understand! I have my own house to go to. And then she’s been going off having babies with all these men! Why would you steal your own father’s money like that?…And oh all the shouting and the bad language! Oh she is so rude! So rude! I am so cross!”

“…..Eh…….what?” That lost me completely. All I could come out with was: “Well Dorothy look: I walked past the front door and saw her leave. She won’t be coming back I can assure you. Please don’t worry. Is there anything I can get you?”. She looked at me as if I was her saviour and like a toddler who had just wasted all of her energy in some nonsensical tantrum she wound right down. But her eyes lit up again as she caught sight of the TV. Of course! Jeremy Kyle! That program makes my own blood boil, imagine what it can do to a confused and extremely angry woman with dementia? I quickly switched over the channel and decided: I was going to read up a lot more on dementia. And I was going to stick with this job! Not only did I just witness an episode of pure despair that I no longer had the heart to walk away from something told me this was actually going to be quite fun!

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13 thoughts on “That INSOLENT girl!

  1. Hi Anna
    Enjoying your blog. Seems your got your work cut out for you. Just one thought don’t let the words sink in. They are coming out of the mouth of someone with a diseased brain not coming out of a foul mouth person. Looking forward to read your next instalment.

    • Thank you very much Alan. I try my best not to take the words personally and most of the time I can say they go in one ear and out the other. But I’m only human and if I have had a bad day it’s hard not to take things personally. But we try =) Thanks for the support. I will try to keep it good!

  2. Dear anna its christian here i feel very sorry that you have to look after the old lady but i understand that the old lady cant control her own actions . its very sad and anna i think your blog is very intresting and it made me think about the old lady its not all funny but it can be funny and its serious plus i thought it was a brilliant blog!!! LOVE FROM TINY BROTHER

    • Oh my baby brother! I love you =)Thank you very much. I’m not that good at writing but I’m OK and I love doing it – it’s in our genes so I think you should hurry up and start! Don’t feel sorry for me. I am not doing charity. I am getting paid good money. But I am trying to do my best. Yes some of the things that happen to someone when their brain begins to deteriorte with dementia are very sad. When the dementia gets worse she might even to put food in her mouth, and then forget to chew, then forget to swallow, then forget to go to the toilet, and forget who everyone in her family is. It is very sad. But there is no cure, and no treatment. SO the best thing to do is to be as kind as possible and to laugh at the funny things! Lots of love to u too xxxxxx

  3. Hi Anna,I think your blog is great and really highlights the difficulties of looking aftre soemone with dementia.Its a very lonely life being a live in carer and takes a very special person to do it.It would be lovely if your blog was more accessible to carers as I think it would be very helpful.I shall continue to read with interest.In the meantime keep smiling

    • Hi Sally. Thank you very much. It really is a lonely job. I have Dorothy’s niece who lives in the house but she works a lot. So it’s mainly me and Dorothy. I think that’s one of the reasons I took up studying dementia and writing a blog. It’s also such a great way of reflecting on my experiences and sharing it with people who might feel better to know every carer struggles with dementia. The way I advertise my blog is through friends on Facebook and several groups related to caring and dementia on Linked in. But I will keep trying to get in touch with more carers to share the blog. If you could share with people who you think might be interested that would be great!

  4. Pingback: That INSOLENT girl! | Alzheimers' Anecdotes

  5. Anna,I have just started to read your very deep insights regards (my very dear friend Dot/Dorothy)first of all thankyou for caring for her as she is at this time.Anna you have no idea just what a strong loyal person Dorothy has been.We have such a wonderful ,funny,sad,interesting past life.It really is hard for me to accept her as she is now but deep down I know she and I will always be able to communicate in someway whatever this bloody illness throws at her.Keep up the wonderful work you are doing (drawings are excellent) and will endeavour to get to see you in the near future. Much love Jean.

    • Hi Jean. Thank you very much for your comment.
      I really admire your friendship with Dorothy and hope that I can have something like that by the time I’m older too. Your approval for the blog has been the most important so far, so thank you very much. If you look on the blog there is an option to ‘follow’ it so you get an e-mail everytime I post something new, but I’ll keep you updated anyway,
      Love, Anna

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