Thursday, 19 February 2015

It's All About Alice....

Hi Everybody.
It's been quite a while since the last post, and as usual lots of things happen at once that I want to write about. However this post is a fresh one, meaning I'm writing it just an hour or two after an experience that I thought I'd like to share.

Four of my female friends (Fran, Maree, Tania & Ellen) are about to do a 100k walk for charity, and well, hey, that's what lots of people in New Zealand seem to like doing - big walks, runs and all manner of physical endurance races for good causes or personal challenges.  It's no wonder people are so bloody healthy looking here. Anyway, I digress. As part of the fundraising they had a movie screening at one of the gorgeous little Art-House cinema's - the Cuba Lighthouse. The film that was screened had to be changed, and as a result of the change tonight's film was 'Still Alice' (see picture below...)
Now, this movie which is based on a book, was all about 'Alice' - a highly successful academic, wife, mother of 3, who finds out she has a rare form of Early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. The added twist is that it is a rare form of the disease and is hereditary, meaning any of her children may also get the disease. One of Alice's daughters is "Bella' from the Twilight movies, (who actually is really good when she's having to worry about vampires and werewolves fighting over her).
This movie is not a comedy, but it's gritty and very real portrayal of how the Alice and the family cope with such a disease. The film made me frequently tearful, and made me think about lots of wok related cases from my past. Also I think a recent file I read of someone at my current work shared many of the same issues that were shown in the film.

I'm also reading the book pictured below....
... which also has a central character called Alice, who loses her memory. This story focuses on Alice who can't remember the last ten years of her life (from age 29-39). She can't remember her 3 children, the reason for her divorce, of the death of her best friend. This story also focuses on a real sense of what has been lost and how relationships change over time, including the perceptions of who we are as people and how our values can change.

I was sat watching the film tonight, thinking about many of the 'people', (patients / clients / families of clients / friends & family), who have been affected by illnesses and injuries like in these stories and the sense of a person being present in their body, but not always present in their mind. In both stories there are interactions where the 'now' Alice is either trying to send a message to the future Alice, or understand behaviors of the past Alice.

These stories really got me thinking about issues like:
- What parts of myself and my own story would I like to record, and be able to tell myself in the future if forgot?
- Would there be parts of my past I wouldn't want to remind the future me of?
- Do I tell the important people around me enough of how I really feel about stuff now, whilst I can?
- What do I really value in my life, and am I doing the things that make those values real?
 
Now I know, lots of OT's and health professionals will say that questions about personal values come from the 'OT' part of my brain. Yet thinking about all the interviews I have conducted recently in my new job, and thinking of the many hours of time spent with very ill patients / clients / families, I wonder did I ask this one question enough? - WHAT & WHO ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO YOU RIGHT NOW / IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES? 
 
The follow-up question should be.... AND ARE THE THINGS THAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO RIGHT NOW MATCHING YOUR VALUES?.
 
You'd be surprised how many people in my professional career realize that the answer to the follow-up question is a "NO".... 

Regards from Wellington.

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