Coping with the unexpected

She came with a friend. She was impatient to get into my office, pacing up and down, holding a pen and paper in her  hands.  Her  personal  belongings  were  bulging  in  a  shoulder  bag,  carried  by  her  friend.  Her  friend  had  a concerned,  worried  look  on  her  face,  hovering  close  to  the  older  woman.  When  finally  they  sat  down  to  speak  to me,  the  room  was  filled  with  the  tension  emanating  from  the  woman  carrying  the  pen  and  paper.  She  sat  on  the edge of the seat, focusing her intense blue eyes in a fixed gaze onto my face. She looked reasonably well for her 70  years;  hair  a  little  tussled,  but  soft  and  curly.  Her  face  was  lined,  but  not  weary.  The  colour  tone  of  her  skin looked  pink  and  warm.  She  wore  no  make-up.  Her  dress  and  shoes  were  clean  and  tidy,  a  home-knit  jersey warming her shoulders.

“I just have to sort this out” , she said breathlessly. “I have always been able to take care of myself. I hate feeling like this.” With that her face crumpled into a sob, her blue eyes quickly filling with tears. “I just don’t understand that I could become like this!”

“Slow down; what is wrong?” I asked gently.

“I  used  to  be  able  to  remember  so  well.  Now  everything  is  in  a  fog.  I  have  to  write  everything  down,  and  then  I forget where I have put the piece of paper with the notes! Oh! It is too terrible! Now I am even becoming scared to be on my own. I want someone with me at all times.” She spoke eloquently; her command of English excellent. Her voice strong and full of emotion. Her eyes intense, darting with panic.

“Sometimes  I  get  palpitations.  Is  it  my  heart?  Please  do  something  to  help  me.  I  have  tried  the  doctor.  He  said  I should  use  tranquillisers.  They  just  made  me  so  sleepy,  and  even  more  confused.”  Her  hands  were  moving, opening the fingers around the pen, folding the blank notepaper open and closed.

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