Saturday, 25 February 2012
Reading an entertaining entry on a fellow blogger's blog reminded me of a lady I "nursed" while I was on student placement to The Merseyside alcohol dependency unit at The West Cheshire Psychiatric Hospital in the 1980s.
Sylvia was one of those ex colonial types, with a cut glass accent, a weather beaten face and the kind of spirit that made Britain what it was during the 1930s and 1940s, an arrogant world power.
She was, opinionated and racist, in that old fashioned sort of way that made you smile at her rather than it provoking an angry response towards her, and she had spent her life of privilege in colonial Malaya , for 40 years pickled in pink gin.
God knows just why she had been admitted to the unit. She was far too long in the tooth at 83 to successfully give up alcohol, even I as a student realised that fact, but I suspect that she had been "encouraged " to enter rehab for a formal assessment, as it was suspected that she was suffering from the start of Korsakoff’s dementia.
People suffering from Korsakoff's dementia lack vitamin B 1 due to their alcoholism, and treatment , as I recall is a combination of vitamin supplements, good nutrition and plenty of rest in addition to the "talking therapies" which aim to explore the cause of their drinking behaviour.
"Talking Therapy" was not something that Sylvia took too seriously as I recall
People that have Korsakoff's, often have great gaps in their memory which they cover up with confabulating history accounts.
In one morning group session I remember one Liverpudlian patient asking her just how much she drank before her admission
In her best Maggie Smith delivery Sylvia announced loudly and with some conviction to the group
"If you must know ......I only ever had a few little drinkies after meals!"
The Liverpudlian, missed nothing from her vague reply
"and how many meals a day did you actually have?" he asked with a smile
"34!" Sylvia called out with a triumphant cackle