Fear of the Unknown

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“Draw a clock face for me. Put the numbers on it and then I will tell you what time to make it.”

But all I can do is try to write the word: C-L-O…. I cannot even remember how to spell it. I give up.

“Can you count backwards from 100 by sevens?”

No. I never was any good at math.

“Well then, try to spell the word WORLD backwards…”

I can’t. I never was any good at spelling.

“I want you to remember three words for me: Ball, pen, chair. Repeat them back.”

What words did you say? I can’t remember.

“Where are we?”

What do you mean? We are here!

“Where is here?”

I laugh. We are just here!

“What town is this?”

I don’t know.

“In what state do you live?”

I don’t know that.

“What country?”

I was never any good at geography.

“What is the date?”

I haven’t the foggiest. I don’t pay attention to that.

“Do you know the year?”


“Do you know what season we are in?”

Stop asking me stupid questions!

“Write me a sentence.”

What kind of sentence?

“Any kind you like.”

I hold the pencil but no words come and the blank page just stares back at me accusingly. Fear is in my throat making it hard to swallow. Tears sting my eyes.

Something is wrong but I don’t know what.

What is happening to me?

There are whispers outside the exam room. I catch snippets: … car keys… no driving… might burn house… oven… never alone…

I want to run. But where? Where am I? Where is home?

What is wrong with me?

Who are you?


37 thoughts on “Fear of the Unknown

  1. Like is the wrong term—but, very good! This is the scariest thing I have read in years, especially written from the patient’s view. My biggest fear, too.

    I, too, see my mother there. She didn’t live long enough to go that far, but she was on that road.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep. I don’t want to think about how scary this is. Especially since I’ve never been good at counting backwards from 100 by sevens. Maybe it’s some kind of learning disability. Can you count on your fingers?


  3. My mother danced around in age-related dementia. It was fleeting and she always knew when she came out of it that she hadn’t made any sense. She would cry and asked if I thought she was crazy. Tore my heart apart. It’s always in the back of my head as I age. Your post took me there again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s also one of the illnesses that scare me the most, although my father is pretty ill at the moment with something completely different. Sad…and finding the right care in later stage can be very complicated.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your compassion and insight – such a gripping snapshot into reality! Our family just lost my mother-in-law after 8 yrs with severe dementia. If there’s one thing I have come away with , it’s the knowledge that even in dementia there can be happiness, depending on others’ response to the person. Four years into her condition, we were advised to stop her food and water to “allow” her to die naturally, because, said they, her quality of life stunk. (The ones who advised this had spent less than 10 minutes in her presence.) Yet to the very end she laughed often, loved her son when she couldn’t say his name, and deep down, was still somehow herSELF through those 8 years, though her thinking became child-like. What we all want, whether we are 8 or 98, is others love, understanding, and kindness. One day soon, this might be me. Or you.

    Liked by 1 person

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