About me

About me

My name is Archie and I have been a member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group since 2013. I was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia at the age of 72. I recently celebrated my 80th birthday and despite this pandemic that we all find ourselves in, I continue to lead an active life. Earlier this year I contracted Covid and I want to tell you about my experience, including the support I received, my hospital experience and the input from my GP and local nurse practitioners. I am sharing my story to give hope to others who may find themselves in my situation.

Archie presenting at Alzheimer Europe

This journey

The journey

So, here I was on a beautiful cruise ship sailing on the Mediterranean Sea when the Coronavirus pandemic really started to take hold. I should have been going home at the end of March but now I was stuck in my cabin and literally 'all at sea'! The ship's crew were excellent however and kept all the passengers up to date with information on when we would be allowed to go home.

The journey home was very long as I had to fly to Manchester then go to Glasgow by coach and then travel home to Dundee.  I was very tired when I got home, the journey had really taken a lot out of me. This affected my abilities and my stamina, and in turn my confidence. Staying at home and shielding really took its toll. Throughout the next month I found myself to be exhausted and breathless. I didn't like getting older and cursed old age.

Quote 1

"Being older, and having a diagnosis of dementia put me in that vulnerable category. That made me really reflect on the loneliness and isolation I felt."

What happened next

What happened next

Health wise the breathlessness got worse, and after speaking to my GP I was sent for a Covid test - on my 80th birthday. Due to my frail condition my test was carried out at the specialist infectious diseases hospital. I cannot fault the staff that day, they made me feel relaxed, they noticed that it was my birthday and in their full PPE they sang 'Happy Birthday' to me behind their face masks. I will never forget that.

My test result came through within 24 hours and was negative, what a relief that was although I knew something was wrong as I was so weak and breathless. After further consultation with my GP I was sent for blood tests and a chest x-ray. This was when I received the bombshell that the blood test showed I had the virus and the x-ray showed scarring on the lungs. I was no longer infectious but suffering from the remnants of the virus.

What helped me through

What helped me through

Throughout this journey, Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Advisors and the Scottish Dementia Working Group have helped. They provided information and support networks, they listened and showed the patience needed to help me get connected and learn how to use video calls. Seeing the staff team helped tremendously and reduced that very lonely feeling.  Anyone that knows me, will know that I dislike being stuck at home inside my four walls. I am a very sociable person and I missed the social contact. 

The support and service I received from my GP and nursing team, even at the height of the pandemic was excellent, I even had a house call from my GP. The visit to the hospital and the guidance I received there all helped me through this frightening time. Knowing that even through the isolation, lock down of services, no social events and restrictions on day to day activities, I was still connected to my peers and still able to be that active voice for people with dementia helped my through. 

Quote 2

"Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish Dementia Working Group have kept me connected, given me a focus, a sense of purpose and a feeling of self worth."

Looking forward

Looking to the future

I am slowly getting my physical strength and stamina back. I am my own harshest critic and get frustrated with myself if I struggle. I go out every day now and visit my favourite coffee shop. This feels like a little bit of normality for me. I am looking forward to getting back to what I love doing the most in my role with the Scottish Dementia Working Group, sharing my experiences of living with dementia and being a campaigning voice for other people with dementia living locally and nationally. I can't wait until we can all meet up again in person!

Quote 3

"Having a diagnosis of dementia has not ended my life, instead it was the beginning."