23 October, 10.30am, sitting at the Memory Clinic at Nair Hospital, waiting for the 1st appointment of the day to turn up.
a few minutes pass by, and the door opens... my mind, body and soul turn on the engine's...lets start the proceedings...
Walks in an old lady, must be in her late 60's, wrinkled face, heavy specs, whitish hair, having troubles finding the direction, lost in her own world, talking to her-self in her "own" language, looking upon each new face with suspicion.
She is Followed by a even older gentleman, who very patiently shows her the way, shows her the chair, explains her that's it meant to be seated upon. Helps her sit down. Occasionally throws a comforting smile towards her, which she doesn't respond to. And still holds her hands, like the 1st time he helped her cross that busy road.
Very slowly she settles into the chair, looks around. Feels lost. I try to gather some eye to eye contact, but its futile. The only thing i achieve is an occasional blank stare. By now I have already made a picture of the disease in my mind. She is Alzheimer's..advance stage. I also deduce that she has gone to the point of no-return. From here onwards, my role is just to reduce as many symptoms as possible before she reaches that eventual ending.
I ask her husband, whats the current status. Unfortunately he confirms my worst fears.
Since last 6months she has completely lost all memory. She doesn't remember any member of her family,
doesn't remember even her own name,
doesn't remember the street where she has been living since 50yrs,
doesn't remember where the bathroom in the house is.
She can't dress-up herself anymore, coz she has forgotten how to button-up.
She eats only once in few days, as she forgets that she is hungry.
She doesn't remember that she needs to go to the loo, and urinates in her own clothes.
She doesn't remember that a chair is meant for sitting, and water is meant for drinking.
In middle of all this She still occasionally turns to her husband and recognises his face. Then she scolds him for aging so fast. And again she gets lost in her own world.
at the end of the long list of complaints, and after my entire neuro-psychiatric examination...
I looked upon her husband, and out-of the context asked him...how do you keep the smiling?
He looked upon me...as a old sage does towards the seeker of knowledge... smiled and said "I love her...and will love her till my last breath"...
As i bid them goodbye, i turned to myself and thought... IS THIS LOVE!!!! it cannot be defined so simply by just four letters!!!