Nicola loves to spend time with her dad, Colin, who has vascular dementia. But despite keeping in touch with video calls during the coronavirus lockdown, Nicola is longing to hug her beloved dad again.
My dad, Colin Arthur Burbidge, was born 15 September 1939 just after the start of the Second World War.
Dad grew up in Leicester and at the age of 19 he joined the National Service and was sent to Singapore.
He was the Far East Light Heavyweight Champion! He would tell every person he met about it and put up his hands in the boxing stance.
He was also the main man at his rugby club, the centre of attention at family parties, an incredible, sociable man, a loving father and grandfather. Sadly, he’s now living with dementia.
Dad’s 80 now and was diagnosed with vascular dementia in September 2017.
He owned it in the beginning. I used to pick him and his friends up and take them to play dominoes at the rugby club on a Thursday night where dad would tell them all he had dementia.
‘He doesn’t talk much now. He can’t find the words.’
But when I see him, we still laugh, take selfies on Snapchat and I encourage him to sing. It’s amazing how the words come back to him when he sings! It makes him cry, and then we both cry! But it’s like getting my dad of old back again, just for a short time.
Dad’s in good hands
Dad has been with my stepmother, Ann, for over 20 years. She takes care of him in their bungalow, which is on the other side of Leicestershire from me.
I gave up my job at a local hospice so I could help Ann take care of dad after his diagnosis and after he took a turn for the worst and had to go to A&E.
‘Dad’s really well looked after with Ann. But this lockdown has been the longest I’ve been without seeing him.’
We managed to get them WiFi in their bungalow just as lockdown started, meaning we can all send photos to Ann through WhatsApp to show dad. Me and my brother, Neil, can video call them through FaceTime, too... Although it’s usually the sky or the ceiling for most of the call!
Missing my dad
I miss him so much. I miss being with him on Thursdays when Ann goes out for a break to shop or have dinner with her daughters.
‘Dad’s been getting upset in the night and he’s been waking-up up to seven times a night and crying.’
His doctor has now prescribed sleeping tablets, which seem to be helping him. He’s no problem in the daytime. But you can’t leave him alone for long or he fiddles and fidgets and ends up emptying his catheter into his slippers or socks!
I’m longing for the day when I can walk through their front door again and give them both the biggest hugs.
Ann is the most amazing person to cope through this all on her own and I cannot wait to be there so she can take a well-earned break.
She usually goes to a dementia care group on a Monday and the carers have a WhatsApp group so at least getting the WiFi means she’s been able to message them, which has really helped her cope.
I know dad is well looked after, but it’s still hard not to worry. What if he doesn’t recognise me or his grandchildren because it’s been so long since we’ve seen him.
There must be so many people out there in similar situations right now, so stay strong everyone. We’re getting through this together.
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