“How many children do you have?”, the doctor asked. There was no answer. “What is the date today?”, the doctor asked. “Seventeenth, uh, twentieth, roughly”, he exclaimed. “What is your wife’s name?”, the doctor raised a new question. This time, he was startled.
These were a set of typical questions which the neurologist asked my father during a medical check-up. This visit took place about five years ago, somewhere during 2015 — the first time my father’s medical condition was officially diagnosed.
Dementia is the name of multiple diseases, multiple conditions, caused by abnormal changes in the brain. The mental health of a dementia patient declines with time, accompanied by different kinds of symptoms, sensations and varying behaviour. The disease offers severe challenges to the family of the patient as they begin to lose a precious family member over time.
I had no knowledge about the disease until I heard the word ‘dementia’ for the first time in 2015. I started to read what medicine had to say regarding it, but my personal experience of witnessing the decline in my father’s mental health offered me better learning than what I read.
As a part of my project work, I have decided to take the first step towards creating awareness about dementia in Pakistan, primarily. This is #JusttheStart, and I guarantee, there is a lot to do on the way, InShaaAllah.
I feel extremely satisfied to have taken the first step on this venture. Currently, I have two teachers. My father, who is teaching me about dementia every minute, and secondly, Alzheimer’s Research UK — an online research program. There is no better teacher than my father in this scenario, which is why, I want to share my knowledge with other people. Just like I needed help when the diagnosis was made, there would be countless people across the globe who would be struggling fighting the same battle. I don’t want them to give up. I can assure you, that it is going to be hard, but it won’t be impossible. Please stay brave. Please be a warrior for your loved one.
There is a quotation that states ‘the beginning is always the hardest’. Indeed. It was hard to begin. It was hard to accept the bitter reality. But life is all about acceptance and learning, which is why I have decided to address those people who cannot accept a similar truth. I have to make sure that the content I share is relevant and appropriate. I have to make sure about working towards this goal with discipline and punctuality. Lastly, I have to make sure that the experiences I share help ease someone else’s life, boost their morale, and let them know that they are not alone in this battle.
The process of developing a SMART goal has been so rewarding, already! I can keep track of my progress and measure it so easily. Doing so, I will remain motivated to work step by step and not look back. Until now, my biggest challenge has been seeing my father struggle with his medical condition. But the day I upload my first video, the day my journey ignites hope in the lives of other caregivers, and the day someone does not give up fighting, will be the day when my biggest challenge becomes my strongest support.
#Stay brave, stay strong!