The real agony of going to the dentist? Getting lost on the way! BONNIE ESTRIDGE with her latest despatch on living with Alzheimer’s

Oh dear. This is something that I’m not too thrilled to have to mention, if I’m honest. So I will have a glass of wine (or two) and try not to think too hard about what happened on the way to see the dentist last week.

Lovely Robert is not only my dentist but he is one of my oldest friends – and a former flame to boot. From the day in 1968, or perhaps it was even earlier, when my mum managed to push us together as teenagers (both of us would say reluctantly at first) we have kept in touch. I would never go to another dentist.

Driving my Mini Cooper along the A3 in South-West London, sunroof open and The Kinks blaring out from the stereo, I was feeling pretty good about life.

Bonnie Estridge got lost recently on her way to the dentist while driving her car

Bonnie took the turning for Richmond Park and suddenly lost her way to the dentist

I took the exit for Richmond Park – and then, somehow, it all appeared to be strange.

Where was that cafe I knew? I’d been there so many times. Everything was the same as I’d thought it might be except that I had no recognition of where I was or what I might be doing there. I had completely forgotten the way.

I parked the car on a side road and called Robert’s nurse Jackie in a panic. ‘I don’t know where I am, and I don’t know where to go,’ I blurted out.

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Jackie could tell that I was stressed, so she soothingly asked if I had the car sat-nav switched on.

I know I’d set it, but now all I could do was stare at it blankly. Was it broken? Was it me?

Jackie told me that she would call my husband Chris. When he rang me moments later, I burst into tears. He had no idea where I was – nor could I tell him.

He told me to calm down and look for a road sign. I could see New Road, but unfortunately the sign did not contain the postcode.

Amazingly, Chris would tell me later that he managed to deduce the New Road I was next to by looking on Google Maps for the one closest to Robert’s practice.

He arrived in his van less than an hour later and I ended up tailgating him all the way home.

Yes it was horrible, yes it was ludicrously annoying, but we got home in one piece.

We rebooked my dental appointment and Chris took me.

I’ve still got all my own teeth, as they say. But the upshot of this event is I am changing the way I do things to a certain extent.

I won’t stop driving – my vision is good and I can get to TK Maxx in Balham and back just fine.

But it has knocked my confidence. I suppose my comfort zone – the places I know and the things I’m able to do on my own – is getting smaller. And I am going to have to keep on adjusting.

Oh, and I’m not going to let any of this stop me looking forward to the trip to Poland I have planned with my daughters next month.

In other news, I’m looking forward to the Young Onset Dementia Support Group restarting after the summer break.

It doesn’t sound very glamorous, I know, and I never really saw myself as being in a support group, but it is really good.

Once a month Chris and I go together. The meeting is held in a big room at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, with about 30 of us affected by the A-word in some way meeting for coffee and a chat.

We end with a quiz, which is beneficial for cognitive stimulation, apparently.

I know I’m not the only one in this predicament, but meeting other people who are really brings home the fact that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, or in any way freakish. Friends and family have all been incredibly understanding but it can still feel like that.

It has really helped Chris, particularly, come to terms with what has happened. This is tough for him too, not least the fact that he bears the brunt of me repeating myself all the time, because I forget I’ve already said something.

There are all sorts in the group – even a few teenagers, who are the children of patients – which makes the whole thing a fun, very rowdy and brilliant way of forgetting the unpleasantness and worry that can sometimes build up.

Write to Bonnie 

Email [email protected] or write to her at The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. 

It’s good to be able to swap anecdotes, talk openly and make new friends.

Among them are Denise, who has Alzheimer’s, and John – it transpires that they live just a few doors from us but we had never met them before.

Who knows, when I see everyone I might even be persuaded to tell them all about the time I got lost on the way to the dentist…


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