I’m Demented, or should that be Bananas?


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Have you looked in a dictionary, or checked online, under the word, Dementia?

Before I start, I must stress, these are not my words, but are taken from the English Dictionary and Thesaurus, which also covers the Scientific and Medical meaning of these words.

This is what I found:

Dementia
its a Noun

severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality integration, due to the loss of or damage to neurones in the brain.

From the Latin…for insanity, or madness

It is used as a collective name for any disorder that relates to memory problems, concentration, making day to day judgements, having emotional disturbances and personality changes, basically anything that shows deterioration with your intellectual faculties; that just means, the thing that makes you, you.

This part of the first definition:
loss of or damage to neurones in the brain,
is really important in understating what we mean when we say Dementia, but I will come back to that.

For now, let’s look at bit more about the word, Dementia.

Demented:
This is the Adjective for and describes the noun Dementia

Demented means…
Affected with Dementia
Crazy; insane; mad

Now that’s interesting… don’t you think?

It gets better when you look at some of the synonyms: the words that mean the same thing really…

bananas, bemused, crackbrained, daft,
delirious, deranged, distracted, distraught,
flipped out, foolish, frenzied, fruity,
hysterical, idiotic, lunatic, mad,
maniac, manic,
non compos mentis, nutty as a fruitcake,
out of your tree, psycho, psychopathic,
psychotic, schitzy, schizoid,
unbalanced, unglued, unhinged, unsound,
whacko!

Wow, now this definitely sounds more like me!

In fact, for me personally, this certainly sounds more to the point, rather the way some people and the medical profession don’t want to say… It’s that thing that is going on, so we’ll call it something that sounds blah blah! I know some of the words above might not be accurate in medical terms, but it is certainly what is used every day to describe how I behave and not in a derogatory way; it is often a way to describe how different things are with a person. I do understand that some people may not want to be as blunt as me.

For me, I know that I’m not right in the head and it is affecting everything in my daily life, making me deranged, foolish sometimes, manic but, believe me. The me now is so different to the person I was. In my here state, I’m well aware of this happening and for me, when I’m in this reality, it is just as mad and wacko to me too! I think one of the main failings with a dementia diagnoses, is to believe the person diagnosed has gone and can no longer think, or behave for themselves from that moment on.

However, this is not everything people have to consider when thinking about how to behave with people with dementia. For a start, because we may have been diagnosed with this thing, it doesn’t mean we can no longer do anything for ourselves, or that we have to be protected, or isolated and are no longer able to think, to care, have thoughts and most of all, have deep feelings. It may be that those things might not be just what you are expecting and maybe it comes out a bit different, off kilter, than we used to show, but I am still me…I know tomorrow I may be a different me, but that is tomorrow.

This brings me onto the point I mentioned earlier:

Remember this:

Dementia
Noun

severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality integration, due to the loss of or damage to neurones in the brain

I said the that, ‘the loss of, or damage to neurones in the brain’, is really important when trying to understand Dementia.

This is it in a nut shell, no pun intended. If something damages your brain cells, be that by illness, trauma, some deficiencies in your body, a virus etc and that damage gets to a point where there are not enough brain cells to enable you to function, as you did, we might say being normal, you will surely experience and seeing the signs and symptoms, of what is known as dementia.

Today, anyone showing these signs and symptoms are said to be demented and having Dementia and often they are grouped together and seen as being the same. The problem is, we might be showing similar affects, such as memory problems, the commonest symptom of Dementia, apparently, but the cause can be so different. It is vital to understand the cause to truly help with dealing with the symptoms.

If the signs and symptoms that you are experiencing, fit a certain criteria, then it is given a name.. Here is a list from the Alzheimer’s Association; Alzhiemer’s, Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Down Syndrome, Frontotemporal Dementia, Huntington’s Disease, Normal Pressure Hydrochephalis, Posterior Cortical Atrophy, Parkinson’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Korakoff Syndrome and Mixed Dementia. Please accept my apologies for the pronunciation. However, this is not that straight forward because, for many of us, the signs and symptoms cross over and are not clear cut. The Alzhiemer’s Association’s own research showed that 50% of the people that had Alzhiemer’s, in their study, also had other coexisting forms of Dementia. Mixed Dementia is common simple because many of us do not fit into a nice neat box, but there is a major downside to this, if there is no specific name give to your particular dementia, then there is no specific help. I’ll end this paragraph with a nice bit of information. The reason that it is so difficult to give a clear pathological diagnoses is that there is no way to check directly what is happening inside your brain, unless you are dead! Hopefully living scans will improve greatly and not just based on blood flowing around your brain, it could help so many!

The brain has been broken down into areas to aid study and that study seems to show that certain areas have certain functions. If damage is found in a certain area, it is often seen that certain type of symptoms are evident, but research now shows that this is not that clear cut. The brain appears to be very good at trying to use other parts of the brain, to compensate for damage elsewhere. This is called Neuroplasticity and it is a normal brain function throughout life. The brain changes and adapts, as best it can, to keep normal functions at optimal peak. Throughout life our brain changes, adapts gets stronger, or weaker all down to the experiences the brain receives. It is also thought that with age, this plastic process starts to slow down and parts of the brain become set, rigid and this causes possible dementia type problems, but I can’t help remember that constant phrase, Dementia is not age related!? I believe that the slowing down of this process is an association of what people do, or not do and not necessarily a cause. As people start to do less, the brain does less to, it slows down. This plastic process of the brain is something I’m very interested in, because there seems to be growing positive evidence to believe, that what we do, can greatly aid this process.

Something I hear a lot is that the brain shrinks, in fact I was told that a certain part of my brain had shrunk but, the brain doesn’t shrink. It is just there is less of the brain left to function and as more brain cells die and are not replaced, less of the brain is left, it is not the same brain shrunken. The dark areas that are seen on a scan, show where brain cells were. You may be think this is not a vitally important point, but I want clarity, in fact I cannot function without it anymore. Just to the point, no medical jargon, or special note acronyms, just clear and precise!

The brain is an amazing thing and it does everything it can to keep us ticking over. It will create new cells, reroute messages and do all that is possible to survive… and that makes sense, doesn’t it!? However, to do that, it needs a minimum number of brain cells and the problems will get worse if the deterioration of brain cells continues and the limit of no return is reached.

I believe this is the reason that there seems to be this time of rapid decline, the point were there is not turning back. The brain is very optimal in everything it does and if brain cells stop working, for what ever reason, the brain will try to use other brain cells to make connections, as I mentioned above, or create new brains cells, call neurogenesis, but if this fails, then the those unused brain cells are allowed to die, in fact this is a normal function within everybody’s brain. I believe and hope that this in not inevitable for many of us and we have to do everything we can to help brains help us stay away from that cliff edge.

My everyday is punctuated with me teetering on some intangible and enormously high place. I feel this overwhelming urge and it wells up inside. I’m slowly climbing towards that edge, but fighting all the way and hope, more than I can say, to come back! I think this is the way my brain is telling me to fight, because it needs me to survive! Hope that makes sense!?’

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