This is Me

This is me!

This is me, Meg (Margaret), wife, mother to two fine sons, grandmother to three grandsons, and one granddaughter. I was born in Tillicoultry 62 years ago and now live in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland less than two miles from Loch Ness and I love my home. My life has taken me from Tillicoultry to Blairgowrie, Doncaster, Grantham, Bracknell and Derbyshire before moving back to Scotland in January 2005. I have sold houses, been a PA to a Company Director, taught IT and helped hundreds of unemployed miners train for new careers before working for the Highland Council in Employee Development. I even gained a first class Honours degree in Education and Training at Sheffield Hallam, my dissertation was on 'The relationship between ageing and learning with particular reference to mature students', how ironic! I loved my jobs and the feeling that I was helping people. That all changed...

My diagnosis

My diagnosis 

Approximately seven years ago I began to notice that I couldn't retain information and would forget conversations. Work became stressful even though my manager kept reassuring me that I was fine and doing a good job. I don't think she understood or recognised the difficulties I was facing regardless of what I told her. I have always prided myself on being organised, efficient and on my professional standards. I felt these were becoming more and more difficult to maintain which distressed me. I sought help. My doctor, who is excellent, referred me to Psychological services in 2014. I did countless memory tests, drew endless 'boxes' and tried, with diminishing success to remember 'what street Mr Brown lived on never mind his house number'.

More than a year later I was still doing the same tests, drawing the same boxes and wondering why I needed to know Mr Brown's address - I was never going to send him a Christmas card! There was no diagnosis and very little support. Finally we asked how to make a complaint. All of a sudden there was an urgency. I got a new Psychological consultant, had a new assessment, and finally, a diagnosis. I have early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  Oddly the diagnosis was a relief, this was confirmation there was 'something wrong', I had not been imagining things! The diagnosis 'brought' early retirement, PIP, and a support worker. Some doors closed, I miss work, but others opened with links to both the Highland and Scottish Dementia Working Groups. 




Meg Northedge
                       Meg and her pride and joy!

Moving on

Moving on, what helped 

I have always been very positive and I believe that this part of my character really helped, life does not end. I heard about a man who walked up the Old Man of Coniston every day to help combat the symptoms. I don't have the Lake District on my doorstep but I have Highland which is better! I have a lovely lane and numerous forestry paths that I walk every day come rain or shine. My neighbours must think I'm a Highland Forrest Gump walking up and down the road at least twice a day, but I love it and it gives me the chance to chat to everyone I meet. In the first Covid lockdown I walked the equivalent of Land's End to John O'Groats and have walked more than 500 miles since January (there's a song in there somewhere!). I am convinced that walking improves my circulation, helping to slow the progress of the disease. 

I love holidays when I can get all my family to spend 'special time' together. Being part of both (the local) Highland and Scottish Dementia Groups has given me purpose and the chance to socialise with others with a shared interest. I have had the privilege to work with the trainee nurses at Raigmore Hospital to share what living with Alzheimers is like and how they can help in their work. I still have the confidence and ability to present to a full lecture theatre and want to feel that I have a contribution to make, as I said, life does not end...  

quote 1

"Alzheimer's is progressive, it makes your world smaller, and unfortunately nothing is able to prevent that, but I still want to 'make a difference' however I can."



I know I can't do all the things I used to. I have just given up my driving licence which was a huge wrench, especially living in rural Highland. When I retired I treated myself to a new car, I wanted a black mini but not just any black mini. I wanted blacked out windows, then I wanted black alloys, then I saw the green spots! So I have a black mini with blacked out windows. black alloys and lime green spots all over the doors, roof and wing mirrors. The black alloys even have tiny green spots in their centre! And now I can't drive it. Fortunately my husband is a semi capable chauffeur and my mini brings a smile to my face every time it comes out of the garage!

Alzheimer's is progressive, it makes your world smaller, and unfortunately nothing is able to prevent that, but I still want to 'make a difference' however I can. I am sure I could have continued working in some capacity had my manager and 'work' been more pro-active and flexible but that has gone so we have to move forward. You have to find strategies to allow you to do what you can. I have a bus pass and so have some independence. Technology has helped us maintain contact with friends, family and dementia colleagues even through the pandemic. Lockdown is easing so we'll soon be able to meet face to face again and get on those holidays. Being part of groups like the Scottish Dementia Working Group gives purpose and affirms self worth. I do still have valid opinions and want to offer them! Life goes on - but I still can't draw those boxes...