I’m a Tiger, I’m a Tiger!

I’m a Tiger!

Some may recognize this as the title of a song by Lulu. (Released in 1968 – yes, I’m showing my age) This is Titch, enjoying the last of the long grass before it is cut.

My husband has been working on getting the grass under control. He was busy this morning when we spotted Titch doing her Fierce Jungle Predator impression. He smiled and softly sang ‘I’m a tiger, I’m a tiger’. He doesn’t smile often – it’s part of the Parkinson’s package. I laughed. It was an instant of crystal clear communication, and such a poignant moment. If you haven’t dealt with dementia, it can be hard to understand just how difficult communication can be. He struggles to find words, slurs and mumbles as well. He pursues his own line of thought, and then comes out with something that I can’t follow because I have no context.

We went up to the neurologist on Monday. One of the major freeways across Johannesburg is closed so I had to find another route. This was less successful than I hoped… At least we got there in one piece. Much swearing, I got hooted at a few times (I’m surprised it wasn’t more) and I rode over a traffic island. Look, I was watching the traffic, trying to read road signs and keep an eye on the GPS. I ran out of eyes. We were also late for the first time ever.

My husband has been having more problems lately, struggling to find the right keys, sometimes putting seed in the birds’ water dishes. He doesn’t know what year it is and misspells his own name. All the specialist would say was that his movement is not worse (how he walks, stiffness in his hands), but that the other problems are ‘the progression of the disease’. That’s not a happy phrase. He has been put onto an extra medication to help his memory. We will see.

We go to painting class once a week. it was suggested as therapy and he enjoys it. He produces some interesting work too – very much in his own style. Our teacher was talking about copyright a while ago (and emailed us copies of magazine articles to illustrate her point. Irony rules…) He would never have to worry about copyright, what he produces is so completely different from the reference image. Here is one of his paintings.


We have a coffee break in the middle of class. The other week conversation wandered onto dementia and out came all the stupid old jokes about confused elderly people with one woman saying if she developed it she would swallow a handful of pills. I sat there wanting to disembowel someone with one of the teaspoons. What do you do? I’m perfectly capable of creating a massive scene and have a great line in sarcastic comebacks. But it would embarrass my husband and undoubtedly spoil his enjoyment of the class.


A drawing of my husband dozing over a book. Not very clear, I’m afraid. My husband refuses to go without me and I’ve got to do something. Apart from disemboweling fantasies.

About notewords

Guitarist, Music teacher, Writer
This entry was posted in Animals, Cats, Challenges, Driving, Handicaps, Health, Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to I’m a Tiger, I’m a Tiger!

  1. rosemkinder says:

    Thanks for sharing a bit of your journey. It helps others who deal with the same or similar struggles. Your husband’s painting is so gentle and soft–a lovely vision. I hope he feels that way. Your sketch of him is careful and dear.

  2. foguth says:

    I hate traffic and alternate routes, too, but love that you’re both spending time together and creating art. You might want to investigate lion’s mane – it’s a really odd looking mushroom that has had some positive results when tested for mental clarity. It is available in pill form. I don’t think it would affect the Parkinson’s, and dare to hope it could help the dementia. I’ve heard there are 2-3 other mushrooms that show promise with this, too, but forget what their names are … can not forget Lion’s Mane, which literally looks like a lion’s mane and/or dreadnoughts.

  3. Just want you to know I’m following your thoughts and reading every word. We had Parkinson’s in the family so I’m especially rivetted. I need some motivation to get back to my own blog, but my procrastination has the best of me.

    • notewords says:

      Procrastination… Don’t I know that feeling. For every post, there’s half a dozen that never see the light of day.
      Glad you’re coming along. 😉

  4. I really like the art work – whether the intent was to create distant perspective or not the colours and line are super. So too is the slump of a sleeping husband 🙂 Battle forth and always be armed with a teaspoon at the ready!

  5. ingridcc says:

    I love your description of the moment in the yard!!! It’s so great that you are taking the art class together and I am floored by your husband’s painting, I would put that on my wall! Things other people say can really hit hard I know. Triggers so much pain and anger. People don’t realize that ‘dementia’ is something any normal-seeming person around them may have been diagnosed with, and it’s one of everybody’s worst fears so they have snap fear-driven reactions to it. One thing that has really helped me and my husband (he has Parkinson’s and related dementia/cognitive loss) since he was first diagnosed three years ago was finding a great local organization of people with Parkinson’s (and their partners) and gradually getting to know them through classes and lectures, support groups etc. Kind of counteracts that feeling of alienation from ‘regular’ society – people who don’t understand – even our friends to some degree. Of course our friends don’t say mean things like the oblivious people in your art class, though that offhand seeming “I would kill myself” discussion DID come up in a group of our friends who didn’t know – just after we had gotten the Lewy body dementia diagnosis 3 mo.s after the PD diagnosis! Like a knife in my heart… But friends don’t know WHAT to say, and they feel so bad for us that we can’t exactly let it all ‘hang out’ with them OR joke about it either – but can with people in the PD community. It’s a really great support in a very subtle way and also sometimes directly – great for ideas and info. Progression is not necessarily a steady march downhill either – and meds, exercise and social and creative activities really do help. Ok, will stop ranting now! So glad I ‘met’ you! Your husband is so lucky to have you!

    • notewords says:

      Absolutely not a rant! Thank you so much. It makes a huge difference to hear from someone walking the same path. We got the diagnosis the other way around, the dementia presented first, and we found out about the Parkinson’s later.
      He was diagnosed a month or so after he retired at 65 in 2017.
      Also so glad to have ‘met’ you.

  6. salpal1 says:

    Oh, I wish there was an easier way for you to go to the doctor!

    The painting is gorgeous. Did he paint before the Parkinson’s?

    I feel your pain at biting your tongue and wanting to disembowel those participating in that conversation. It would be so easy to set them straight, but you are right, for your husband’s sake, silence was best. However, it is so tempting to jump in, isn’t it?

    When my grandparents were older, my grandmother was sharp as a tack, but frail physically. My grandfather was healthy and strong, but suffered from a form of dementia. We have had many conversations about which was worse. Would we rather be sharp and realize what we could no longer do, or suffer from dementia but be healthy and strong? No conclusions reached, but it brings home the impact of Parkinson’s, taking everything.

    My heart bleeds for you both.

    • notewords says:

      No, he only started a year ago.
      I think the choice of mental or physical health might be different for different people. Myself, the loss of self would be worse. But to endure daily pain is also no picnic. Getting old isn’t for sissies…
      Thanks for coming past! Always great to see your avatar. 😉

  7. slippedstitches says:

    The painting you husband did is wonderful. I would surely copyright it. I hate that people are so careless about what they say and how they say it. Tactless and insensitive. Holding back from commenting was probably the best for your husband’s sake. If I were in that situation I’d hope that I would act with the same dignity, grace, and respect you showed. Your picture of your husband is very good. You both are quite talented.

    • notewords says:

      Thanks! That painting is my favourite. I do think it was best to stay quiet. Although what they think is going on with my husband I don’t know. It’s impossible to miss.

  8. Your husband’s painting is beautiful, and so is your drawing of him – lovely! Thank you for sharing your happy moment as well as some of your struggles. I do hope the medication changes help him out!

  9. D J Mills says:

    Yes, a lot of us are also on your journey at the moment. 🙂

    People handle it differently. I told my mum to say she can’t remember things or names, but keep talking to people, because she has a happy positive personality most of the time. I heard her say to someone “I forget things, what is it called again?” I burst out laughing because she forgot the word dementia. I tell her I can remember for her until I also forget. 🙂

    She also escaped her aged care facility a little while ago. Thankfully, was found walking alongside the 4 lane road carrying a blanket full of her clothes and taken back to the care facility.

    I love your husband’s painting, and your drawing.

    And I wish the human trials happening in Brisbane at the moment finish quickly so the drug/therapy can be used on those with short term memory loss/dementia so every one can live out their remaining days without confusion. 🙂

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