Midday, Wednesday 25th January 2017
Here we go again, another consultation, more tests. This time we had been referred to a leading Consultant Neurologist, a pioneer in his field. This time a little surgery in Polegate. A fortunate appointment with a Consultant from Cambridge, who was here in our area. Each appointment just created more traumas, without providing any answers. What harm could it do?
After so many appointments, with so many different types of consultants. We had seen GP’s, Health in Mind, Occupational Therapists, Anxiety Specialists and Psychiatrists. None of these were able to offer us any diagnosis or timescale to recovery. Various possibilities had been suggested, Anxiety & Depression were always at the top of the list. The menopause couldn’t be ruled out entirely either.
Such a friendly figure of a man greeted us, immediately i knew that my wife, Corrinne was relaxed in his company, a good sign. Then the questions began. It is so hard when you know the person you love so much is struggling to answer, all you want to do is jump in and help them out, after all I was an expert at this, we had managed to do this for nearly three years without anyone suspecting anything. Every time she was put through this, the lump in the back of my throat grew bigger and it became so much harder to hold back the tears.
As always we began by the Consultant building a history. The majority of the questions were directed towards me, for accuracy in detail. Occasionally, he would invite Corrinne to contribute with whatever memories she had.
Once again we were asked if Corrinne minded doing a little test, no problem, we replied after all this was common practice in most appointments. From personal questions, to questions about current affairs, mathematical questions to drawing diagrams. This test seemed so much more intense and oh so much longer. I knew the upset and despair she was feeling at not being able to answer the vast majority of questions.
She struggled so much with the test. I just wanted it over. She didn’t need to keep going through this, it was cruel.
The Consultant then performed a series of physical tests, which also proved to be too much of a challenge. Even after a few minutes he felt that he had seen enough. Despite Corrinne’s upset, somehow he managed to keep her feeling reassured, she trusted him.
Finally, he sat back, took a big sigh and began talking to us. After the first three words Corrinne could no longer follow the conversation. He kept using words that we had always tried so diligently to avoid saying, for fear of upset. Words that we only referred to as the “D word” for instance, and here it was, being said in every sentence. I was already beginning to dread the journey home, guessing I would be asked so many questions.
We were told that although previously we had been treated for Depression & Anxiety, these were still prevalent but only as a consequence of the main illness. This was definitely a form of Dementia. Extremely rare for someone so young but nonetheless he was certain. He did want us to go for a further consultation with a colleague who he held in high esteem, based at Haywards Heath, but he was convinced.
The journey home was silent. The music played from the CD and we looked at each other with tears flowing down our cheeks. I wondered what did she remember and how will it affect her? Then came the question “When will they find out what is wrong with me?”. This told me everything, nothing had registered.
And there we had it a diagnosis ………
Posterior Cortical Atrophy Alzheimer’s Disease