I passed my Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience. I got a first in my dissertation, and I beat my BSc score (though the grade is the same).
Results came out last Wednesday at 4pm – while I was at my granddad’s house. So I used my snazzy phone to look it up as the time rolled around. My granddad didn’t even respond; despite explaining what it was and what it meant.
Just thirty minutes before he’d asked if my new job would make use of my degrees and would it allow me to keep learning because he knows I need to learn to be happy. He’d gone on about his own school days in a military school, and his first jobs. And come back to “your degrees, they’re good?”
Telling him I’d done better in my MSc than my BSc, and better in the MSc dissertation by a whole grade; he barely registered it. Telling him I was happy with the results left no impression. Within ten minutes, he’d forgotten. Mum proposed a toast at dinner to my results and he hadn’t just forgotten; he ignored it as if the reminder hadn’t even registered.
I’m not bothered that people don’t care – I’m bothered that this is something he should be excited or happy or concerned or interested in – because he values education so highly.
At the weekend, mum asked if I want to go to the MSc graduation in January.
It’s a lot of money and fuss, I only made two friends on my course, I don’t have a dress and I’d be taking a day off work. But I could get a proper photograph, the gowns are nicer for masters, my partner might be able to come, I’d get to see my two friends…
And when I think back to my BSc graduation, all I remember is being told that my granddad is going to the doctor because they think he has Alzheimer’s.
* * *
But I doubt he’d even come to this one.
They’re taking him off the medication and he’ll go back to declining at a faster rate.
I read a New Scientist article about the hopes for prevention ~ but they won’t help my granddad. His wife asked me what he could have done to stop it – could he have eaten better or exercised more?
I don’t know many people with dementia who have climbed mountains just a few years before. Snowdon 3 times. Ben Nevis twice. He eats healthily, rambles, goes square dancing, paints, reads the paper, does the Sudoku puzzle daily.
But he has a build up of plaques and is on the verge of depression.
And Aricept caused him heart rate to reach 45bpm (for a 65+ year old the rate is 50-55 if they’re still an athlete). He’s 84. He should have been unconscious with that rate.
So they’ll likely take him off the drug, and he’ll be even less likely to be himself, to be excited, and more likely to feel depression. If he declines faster, will he forget to be depressed? Would he be happier?
* * *
At my BSc graduation, I found out about his Alzheimers. Last week at his house, I found out my MSc results, and got no response.
The time for mourning may have already arrived; but I don’t want to give up hope. I can’t fight this, but I don’t know how to just give up.
And I’m not sure I want to graduate without him.
– Rose –