Carers Story

Turning 61

The days is still clear in my mind the day Eila called me into the bedroom  expressing  that she was having difficulty putting on her bikini top.

Let’s wind back the story a bit.

Eila and I got married within 3 months of going out together on a research vessel in Papua New Guinea in March 1979. This may not be normal way but this is how our married life began.  By 1981 we were in business together and have worked together for most of our married life since. The over next six years three beautiful children were born and by 1986 we were in a new business with my brother and his wife in Nowra NSW.  Staff of three casuals to two permanents, dreams of one day retiring at forty, cruising the Mediterranean on our cruiser. June 2000 was one of those turning points in one’s life.   I received a phone call at 2 a.m.  by one of our staff informing me  that our laundry was on fire.  Over the next nine weeks chaos reigned   as we battled the insurance company, maintained our business by outsourcing the cleaning of our products and then delivering to our clients, and a new government contract we won was to commence.  Staff had grown by this time to twenty plus. By the sixth week we had outsourcing costs of $400,000 (fully covered by insurance) of which we were to be paid weekly. When we had decided that the Insurer was stalling and no money had been paid to us we decided that we were technically insolvent at law.  We decide to sell. With the sale all creditors were paid but it left us with nothing.

One year later we are back starting a new business this time in real estate, mortgage broking and incorporating financial planning. Like all new startup, cash flow was tight but was nothing new to us as we had experience from our time in the laundry so long hours and stress were normal. One day Eila was unable to collate some papers for me which was a simple exercise and was upset. We decide to go to the doctors and after examination the doctor put it down to the pressures and finances we are under.  Twelve months later things were starting to go well with the business and Eila was back to her old self however thing were not as they seemed. One warm Saturday afternoon we decided to have the day off and go swimming.  Eila call me into the bedroom and remarked that she does not know how to put on her bikini top. We didn’t really think much of it however a month later it happened again and I knew then there was something more seriously going wrong so we went back to  our doctor. The three months of testing began. During this time Eila started forgetting words and her speech was different. With all the testing completed our GP sat us down to explain that he believed Elia’s cognitive problems suggested early onset dementia.  Off to a specialist and MRI scans, there was blood on her brain and that she possibly has had a small mini stroke but they did not know when it happened.  This may account for the speech problems.

The business was starting to expand with a second office in Perth. I was commuting back and forth. The true impact of dementia had not sunk in for either of us. We really loved Perth and we were happy to relocate. In November 2007 Eila went to Psychology Department, Port Kembla Hospital, for a neuropsychological assessment in relation to progressive memory difficulties.  January the results confirmed Picks disease (fronto temporal dementia).  Sent to a professor who basically just confirmed the diagnosis but gave us no direction of what to do next.  Eila flew over to Perth in March and then I knew it was serious.

I had a place two hundred metres from shops. Eila went there in the morning while I was at work. My mobile rang and it was the Royal Blind Society. Eila forgot where she was and a gentleman who was blind brought her to the society which was just past the home. It was now time to face facts.  Closed the Perth office at the end of June and the business in July. There is no medication to slow this disease no cure.  Life can end for you if you allow it to control your life. We chose to live life the best we could. We may have had some setbacks but life is still precious, Our love is strong for each other and as Eila said on national television everyday is a good day.