Cognition leading to Dementia.

Sometimes current simple reflection turns to deeper thinking. I remember giving this photograph the title ‘Cognition’. In reality, because of it being a foreground of a clearer/sharper image to a background of fogged/unfocused status, it was exhibiting a larger story title. Cognition leading to dementia.

Cognition to dementia. Living to dying. Long term illness with short term symptom exacerbation. Reflecting now. Peoples’ strengths. How they present with future unlooked for scenarios impacting on their lives. Depending on long term intensity or transient acute occurrence.

Writing in nurse reflection was always difficult. No ‘journal style’ meanderings. Journalling nowadays in retirement is heavenly and light. There are no current writing of subjects with deep analysis or self performance questioning regarding self ability, growth or learning. The working theme titles back in nurse role were of how you did well or badly. No in between. Reflect and critique or praise on ones self. Not on life itself. Certainly not how a badly performing fountain pen caused angst to the day.

Title: ‘My Sheaffer Taranis pen caused ink bleed-through on the back of the page in the patient’s notes and the doctor on the ward round complained and put a line through the offending back page with ‘unusable!’ written across it. Question. Why did the exclamation mark on the end of ‘unusable’ make me feel so upset?’. Not a real scenario by the way.

Sometimes reflection involved technical skills alongside nurse philosophy. Sometimes interactions with people. Separation of the ‘other person’ in the writing inclusions was never an option. How you yourself handled something of intense nature would always include how the other person contributed or reacted to the scenario. Either positively or negatively.

I have nursed a fair few people with varying degrees of dementia. Mild to profound. Confusion with them having self humour attached to cruel and chaotic. It’s an experience that provides much thought regarding possible future considerations should it happen to yourself.

I have nursed many in palliative care and end of life also. Again, your own thoughts go to death and dying. Watching people pass away involves a mixed self response of the most extreme emotions. Too deep to put adequate words to.

I have nursed many people with Acute Symptom Response to Chronic Illness Presence. Nursing and encouraging them back to as close a homeostatic status as is possible. Acute impactful symptom occurrences in numerous long term conditions gave insight to the inherent courage that can exist alongside the emotional frailty responses attached to the human psyche.

There are no explanatory words for myself to attach to such self witnessing of others experiences. Only quiet reflections on what was witnessed. How a nurse contributes. How the person you nurse copes and how they exhibit the type of responses that can be described as truly admirable. The Staff Nurse role? Complicated in it’s holistic entirety. Did it make me a better man? No, not at all.

What the nurse role has actually made me realise, is that…..if self vulnerability is to be unavoidable, then there is no clear future plan to put in place as a pathway to coping. Your own responses are your tools for getting through. Dementia is quite the different story though. Out of the coping ideal for a planned strategy to be possible. I quietly think on those people who have left the most profound impact simply because their dignity shone brightly. I have also thought of the people that have had dementia impact upon them and how their self dignity was stripped away. In extreme cases….. they have no control.

14 thoughts on “Cognition.”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Gray. Dementia is a cruel decline. Looking at what you’ve said, the areas where you practiced, it must have been emotionally straining on you. Seeing people suffer and decline. I am surprised you say it didn’t change you. I would imagine nurses need a lot of resilience and emotional strength to survive themselves in nursing those with dementia or in palliative care.


    1. Thank you for replying too. I began my nurse role on an acute cardiac ward. Looking after people with acute underlying symptoms from long term conditions were the main interventions on the ward. More medically slanted. Diabetes, renal, cardiac, etc. Symptoms varied in all these. Pain, low/high blood glucose, toxicity, alcohol withdrawal, etc. Oh so many. It was deemed to be the busiest ward in the hospital. My photographic experiences were a steep learning curve…..but this! Moved to community hospital to look after palliative care status mainly. But the machinations that is the NHS and lack of social support led to longer hospital stays and many people becoming of frequent revisiting status. I left and worked as a cardiac rehabilitation nurse, but missed the technical side of ward work. Covid interventions, in reality, brought about a massive shock psychologically. We nursed up close and then closer still with no decent protective equipment. Two years in this situation, reaching 65 y/o and possibility of leaving? Decision made. My nurse colleagues are still in touch. Nothing has changed unfortunately. In fact, as you can read in the news, services have declined further out there. Thank you once again Brenda. My next post should be about the Montblanc vintage fountain pen. The new vintage acquisition. So….so much subject lighter! All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this post, Gray. It takes me back to when I first met you over a decade ago. You were giving palliative care to a dear friend and neighbour of mine. I was and still am in awe of your capacity for sympathy and the respect you showed Leonie. She was most grateful for your care; you even came to her funeral and acted as a bearer. That was above and way beyond what was expected of you and for that, we are eternally grateful to you and a re proud to call you a friend. Thank you for all that you did back then, not just for Leonie, but for all the others you cared for x

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    1. I am deeply humbled Ianto. Thank you. You are yourself a really good friend too. Glad we met up again after those past times. I still carry the gift of the Mandala beads in my pocket or bag at all times. And….Thank the heavens we both love charity shops or our meeting up again would still be in the ‘waiting arena’’. All the best. Xx

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      1. We will. I’m full on panic to get the living room finished as the new carpet is being fitted on Monday! So after that. Just closer to now and not Christmas. 😆 Got two sofas to give away too. So if you know of anyone. A few Facebook friends are sharing the post I uploaded on the ‘sofas….need to have them gone by weekend’ post. They are quite nice still and already my family and friends are saying they are going to miss them when they visit again. 😆 Cheers. Xx

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      2. Thanks Gray. Gail showed me the sofa post last night; they look great! Unfortunately, our lounge is still in post-flood chaos, otherwise, I’d put my hand up and say ‘yes, please!’. Having said that, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to get them on through the ridiculous 90 turn we have through the porch (or through our tiny front door!). Ah, the joys of old houses!! Good luck with the carpets xxx

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      3. Flood! That’s awful. Hope it gets warmer weather soon for you. Open up the doors and windows for drying. Had a friend in Talybont who had flooding in the basement when the water table rose. I remember the aftermath. Not pleasant. They’re large size these sofas. Comfy though. Too big for our room really. But they always seem smaller in DFS or equivalent. You buy them and then think…..oops! Crossing fingers they get through out through our front door too. Although they did come in! Reminds me of a potters wheel that Roger Guy Young from the Arts Centre let me use for a year at my house. A Bernard Leach designed one. Had it out back in the long room. Came in. But couldn’t get it back out again through the same door! No way, no how. Tried every which way and eventually had to take it apart. That was when I learnt that margarine dissolves oil. Both Roger and myself had oil all over our hands from the wheel machinations. He was the one who showed me the old ‘500 alternative uses for everyday household items’ trick. Those books you buy from charity shops that say ‘101 uses for cider vinegar, etc.’ are far too quirky to miss at times. 😊 Xx


      4. Yep – those books often contain treasures!
        The flood happened a couple of years ago. Long story short, cement had corroded copper central heating pipes, so the tank emptied into the lounge while we were away. We sorted a lot of it, but just couldn’t get carpet, furniture, paint etc thanks to lockdown. Became one of those jobs that didn’t get sorted. We’ll get there one day!!!

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      5. That’s a long haul. With myself nurse training (lack of cash) and then full time, (always tired), Angie developing her business and visitors arriving (Wales is a time for them to relax) our house never got done at all. We had a flat roof over the bathroom which suddenly leaked really, really badly and affected bathroom, landing and bedrooms x2. £5,000 to fix for new roof. So I climbed up and botched it. As you say, never got round to fixing it until we got work related settled. Bare walls though. Water leaves an awful aftermath. Any help you need painting, etc. down the line, give us a nod. I’m pretty handy slapping the old chalk paint on nowadays. 😉


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