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Dorothy - Part 1
Dorothy was tired. Her brain was fraying at the edges; her memory disappearing and her motor skills vanishing. Nothing felt right any more. Just three years ago, she had been a happy woman with a husband and children, who had family of their own. She had been a normal, happy, content sixty-six year old.
All that changed when she went to the doctors for a check-up. It was one of the few things she remembered well...
It was in the middle of winter and the sun was shining brightly on the snow, its glittering light bouncing into the surgery’s waiting room. Other patients twiddled their thumbs nervously but Dorothy sat there, silent and immobile.
She was wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a long woollen jumper, which made her comfortably warm. Her short, grey hair lay loose around her head and her sharp, brown eyes studied her surroundings. She checked her watch: 10:47. She sighed and slumped slightly into her chair. Her appointment had been made for 10:35. She was pondering getting up and leaving, when a doctor stepped out from one of the doors that littered the hall to her right. He looked at a clip chart. “Dorothy Andrews?” Dorothy stood up slowly and clutching her handbag, followed the doctor into the hall.
The doctor was a tall man with thinning, grey hair and a wrinkled, weatherworn face. His eyes were a vivid green and his hands were as big as spades. He strode down the corridor, peering into doors along the way, checking which ones were free. Finally, he settled on the last door at the end of the corridor. He quickly stepped inside. Dorothy followed slowly behind him and stepped cautiously into the room.
She had never liked doctors, with their charts and instruments. She had nothing against them; she just found them...odd. She avoided doctors and she had only taken her children to the surgery if they were genuinely sick, not that they ever were. Still, she was required to have an annual check-up. So she went every year, only to be told she had a clean bill of health and a good twenty years ahead of her.
The room was much like the waiting area: small and dark. An examining bed, a table and a two plastic chairs occupied the room. The doctor took a seat, motioned for her to do the same and said “I’m Doctor Somerville, just a few questions to start...”, as she gingerly perched on the edge of the chair. She told him her name, age, date of birth, address and medication, or at least, all she could remember. He wrote all this down on his clip board, the pen scratching against the paper. Eventually, he placed the clip board on the table and said, “Now, if you would just lie on the bed for me...” Dorothy looked at him and stood up, only to sit down on the chair again. She stared blankly into space, unable to tell the doctor what was going on. The doctor studied her silently for a moment, before laying his hand gently on Dorothy’s shoulder and saying quietly, “Dorothy, would you get up on the bed for me?” She seemed puzzled and looked at the bed for a moment. Then she suddenly stood up and whispered, “Where am I? Where did I leave my glasses?” She whipped her head round and her eyes blurred for a second. Then, just as suddenly, she silently climbed onto the bed, waiting for the doctor.
Doctor Somerville began to examine her. He tested her reflexes, which were slow. He had a short conversation with her, monitoring her movements and speech patterns. She often faltered in her speech and occasionally seemed to lose track of the conversation. She got angry when he asked about her grandchildren’s names, screaming that she couldn’t recall them.
To Doctor Somerville, this was clearly not part of the normal aging process. No, this was something entirely different and unfortunately he knew that “different” was bad news. Once he finished examining her and annotating his findings, he pulled out a chair for Dorothy, who hesitantly sat. He pulled the other chair across and looking Dorothy in the eye, said: “I’m so sorry. You may have Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll have to do more tests to confirm it but your forgetfulness and confusion are strong signs. Alzheimer’s disease attacks the neurons in the brain and as you get older....
Dorothy blinked and she was suddenly in the world of the present.