I visited a friend today in hospital, as I did yesterday. He’s there as a consequence of being found lying on the floor of his house, and taken in to be checked. Once there, an assessment was made of his mental state and he has effectively been stopped from leaving, to his confusion and ( moderate ) distress.
He’s exhibited signs of dementia for some time. We’re talking several years, rather than months. Now he is certainly a danger to himself if left to his own destiny, so officially ‘ the best place’ is in hospital.
I won’t name him, but a lot of people who might read this will deduce who I’m talking about.
This man is a significant figure in so many people’s lives, as a consequence of something that he created, altering the paths of very many people in a positive way. To see his mental decline is heartbreaking. He definitely knew who I was, and indeed remembered my visit yesterday, so his memory is still working, though at far from full capacity. As is common in dementia, he has imagined various ‘ conspiracies ‘ that he keeps alluding to, including why he’s actually in hospital at all. He knows that he’s forgetting things, and names, but otherwise is certain that he’s perfectly ‘ sane ‘ and is about to leave hospital, including with me.
When you distract him from his invented theories, he remembers all sorts of details, with impressive mental agility, as he has always been legendary for, so deviation of the conversation away from his paranoia is where you’ll find the man that you remember so fondly.
He was ‘ worse ‘ today than he was but only yesterday, and could have deteriorated more still by tomorrow, as dementia is tragically a one way street.
I hope that people will go to Charing Cross hospital to see him, and chat to him / keep him company. He may not remember who you are, or how he knows you, and forget that you’ve ever visited, but that doesn’t matter. Everyone has time to do the right thing.
Personally, in the past, this man has done much for me. He drove me to the same hospital that he’s now confined to, 15 years ago, after my daughter’s Christening party, during which I fell from a tree ( kind of ). Don’t ask for details! I smashed my right cheekbone, as I fell onto my head, against a kerb. I remember looking up, dazed, and seeing him standing over me and then helping me up, and into his car. I could have ended up in this wheelchair that very day, but I got away with merely a smashed face requiring surgery and 4 days in hospital. He and I laughed about the incident only today, so he’s still ‘there’. When he deviates, it’s not him, it’s the condition that he’s afflicted with, so be understanding and filter out the reality from the confusion.
If there was ever a patient that deserved visitors, then this is him.
Please go and see him. I’d be very happy to tell you the ward details, if you message me.