Wednesday, 12 June 2013
2011: The Early Signs
Throughout most of 2011 Suzie was a happy, healthy, vivacious and extremely active 'young at heart' 70 year-old. Every morning she would go out for a walk with our three dogs and me, she played badminton twice a week, and spent the rest of her time 'flitting around' pursuing her numerous other hobbies, activities and interests. She was always 'doing' something.... gardening, painting, organising Charity shows, singing in the Church Choir, socialising, acting, miniature model making, voluntary work, Art class, Writing class.... the list is endless. Although I'm 20 years her junior I had difficulty keeping up with her!!
Looking back, it was towards the end of 2011 that signs began to emerge suggesting something wasn't quite right. One of the first things I noticed was that Sue had started 'scuffing her feet' when we were out walking. She put it down to a bit of arthritis making her stiff. Over time her walking became slower and more of an effort, our walks became shorter and, eventually, Sue resorted to using a walking stick.
Around this time Sue had also noticed that her handwriting had become tiny and illegible, and her co-ordination was becoming a bit of a problem, with tasks such as fastening buttons and tying laces becoming increasingly difficult for her.
At times I felt she wasn't quite 'on the ball' and she was losing her sense of spatial awareness. In a nutshell, she had lost her 'sparkle'.
When you live with someone and spend most of each day together, an insidious deterioration of health can emerge so subtly that it is not easily noticeable at first. It was so easy to attribute Sue's gradual 'slowing down' and decreasing mobility to the inevitable effects of age. For a long time we just accepted that Sue wasn't as young as she used to be and we tried to adapt accordingly.
With the benefit of hindsight we can now see how very wrong we were.