Ruth and her husband Graham were always very busy around the festive time. Here Ruth shares details of their Christmas traditions.
“Christmas was always a really busy time for my husband and I.
We didn’t have any close family living nearby, but we were active members of our community. This saw us regularly attending church services, being part of the singing group and enjoying suppers with friends. Particularly around the festive time.
“Although we were a quiet couple, often doing things just the two of us, we did like to be around people. Out of the blue however, around a year into our early retirement, Graham started to withdraw. Instead of chatting with friends after church services, he wanted to get straight home and social occasions began to be limited too. I did wonder if he was depressed.
We visited the GP and we were referred fairly quickly onto a neurologist. The wait for the appointment, however, was extremely long. By the time we had his first appointment in May 2001, Graham was beginning to fall. In fact, he fell in front of the consultant.
The hospital was good, they did lots of tests. But they couldn’t seem to get to the bottom of Graham’s illness.
The diagnosis finally came in 2003. “It’s not good news” the consultant said, as I spotted our favourite nurse getting a little upset in the background. We were there so often, staff were like friends to us.
The neurologist told us Graham had PSP and that there wasn’t a cure. We’d not heard of it before so he gave us a leaflet and told us to contact PSPA. The charity was great.
PSPA helped us to understand what the condition was and how it would continue to affect Graham. They also put us in touch with the local nurse specialist, who was amazing throughout.
I managed to keep Graham at home for most of his illness. And with the support of the community, we continued to socialise as much as possible, particularly around special times like Christmas.
The last two years of Graham’s illness were particularly difficult though. That’s when he lost his speech and he could only manage a thumbs up (or down) and a little smile. I still miss our chats even now.
Although Graham died in 2008, I still keep him part of our little traditions.
I can’t give Graham a physical birthday or a Christmas present anymore. But I can donate to PSPA in his memory.
Knowing I am contributing to research, and one day maybe a cure, that has become my present to Graham. As well as a way to remember our special bond.“