‘It was only after John died that I realised these were an early warning of his illness'
They say Alzheimer's starts way before you notice it. But there are little things. Although my husband John died last year, it wasn't until quite recently that I noticed this photograph – and realised what it meant. It was taken in 2004, seven years before I actually recognised John was ill. At the time, I would notice things, but he'd explain them away. He had stopped reading novels, but told me he had too much reading to do for work. Later, I realised he wasn't doing that either. His condition was very obvious by 2011, but I thought it was just him getting older, until someone said: “You're finishing all of his sentences.”
John wasn't someone who got angry, but when we were renovating our house he wanted to control everything. When things weren't going his way, he'd write all these notes on yellow paper. After each meeting with the architect and builder, and sometimes during the meeting, he would squash his notes up into a tight ball. I had never seen him do anything like that. I now know it was the beginning of an anger that wasn't part of his personality.