Newlywed mum, 51, devastated after early onset dementia caused her to beat the husband she adores in violent rages

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A woman who has been married a year has admitted to beating the husband she adores, because of a cruel form of early onset dementia.

Lorayne Burgess, 51, of Lydd, Kent, met Simon, 46, through internet dating in 2010, getting engaged three years later and planning to marry on her 50th birthday on March 10 2016.

 Lorayne Burgess and husband Simon on their wedding day in March 2016

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Lorayne Burgess and husband Simon on their wedding day in March 2016

But their perfect life together was dealt a blow in March 2015 when, following a period of forgetfulness, Lorayne was diagnosed with ultra-rare frontotemporal dementia, a form of the illness that typically affects younger people.

“Of course, I was shocked,” said Lorayne, recalling how she felt when she was diagnosed at 49, following three years of tests including MRI, brain scans and assessments.

“It’s not what you want or expect. But I am here now and I am alive.”

Former cleaner Lorayne was encouraged to seek medical advice by Simon, her daughter Lauren, 28, and son Jordan, 23, who had witnessed her absentminded behaviour.

 The couple organised their wedding on a shoestring and in just nine weeks

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The couple organised their wedding on a shoestring and in just nine weeks

She said: “I’d leave the cooker on and forget to turn taps off.

“It came to a head when I was looking after my now three-year-old grandson, Brayden, and I forgot to close the upstairs gate.

“I heard a noise, walked into the hallway and saw Brayden at the top of the stairs in his walker, literally teetering on the top step. I raced up and caught him just in time.”

 Lorayne with Simon, who she has attacked in violent rages since the disease took hold

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Lorayne with Simon, who she has attacked in violent rages since the disease took hold

After months of tests she learned how her condition – affecting just 16,000 people in the UK – can cause symptoms including socially inappropriate and uninhibited behaviour, lack of empathy, poor judgement and frequent mood changes.

Her hospital visits meant wedding plans took the back seat until January 2016, leaving her and Simon just two months to plan.

Simon, who she met on the dating website Plenty of Fish, was still determined to make Lorayne his bride, so, with a £4,000 budget – as opposed to the UK national average of £27,000 for a wedding – they set to work.

 Lorraine with her granddaughter before her diagnosis

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Lorraine with her granddaughter before her diagnosis

She said: “We decided we’d better get on with it. We had a frantic nine weeks getting everything ready.”

Wearing a £73 white dress she bought online from Amazon, Lorayne married the man of her dreams, in front of a gathering of 40 friends and family, in a converted windmill in Willesborough, near Ashford, Kent, as she also celebrated her half century.

Coming in just under budget, their big day was perfect.

“It was wonderful,” Lorayne recalled. “My daughter was my bridesmaid and my son my best man – it was lovely.”

 Simon Burgess with Lorayne’s son Jordan (L) and Simon’s dad Dave (R) on their wedding day, 2016

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Simon Burgess with Lorayne’s son Jordan (L) and Simon’s dad Dave (R) on their wedding day, 2016

Sadly, since then, her condition has deteriorated rapidly. Instead of the kind, loving woman he married, Simon regularly deals with his wife’s unreasonable mood swings and has even fallen foul of her violent rages.

“I fly at him,” Lorayne admitted. “It’s not my true personality. I call the violent Lorayne, ‘Katie’. Simon can say, ‘That was silly,’ and whereas before my illness, I would have reacted reasonably, now I react horribly. I’m violent and I’m verbally abusive.”

 Lorayne says she is taken over by 'Katie' when she flies into a rage

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Lorayne says she is taken over by ‘Katie’ when she flies into a rage

Violence is not the only devastating side effect of the condition which, according to the NHS, claims the lives of most sufferers within eight years of them first developing symptoms

“As my brain is eaten away, my personality is too,” said Lorayne, who no longer feels deep emotions. “I say, ‘I love you,’ to people, but they’re just words. I don’t mean them anymore.

“There are good days and bad days, but the bad are starting to outweigh the good. The old Lorayne, the kind Lorayne, is disappearing.”

 Lorraine and Simon on their wedding day in Ashford, Kent

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Lorraine and Simon on their wedding day in Ashford, Kent

Incontinence has been another undignified consequence of her dementia.

She continued: “I’m now 51 and I’ve had kids, so you expect a bit of wee escaping when you laugh. But, sadly, I wet the bed at night because of my dementia. I’m not ashamed to talk about it, because it is the reality of this cruel illness.”

While around a third of frontotemporal dementia cases are thought to be hereditary, according to the NHS, Lorayne has never met her biological parents as she was adopted as a baby, so she knows nothing about her family history. For now, she remains determined to eke as much out of life as she can.

“I know there will come a point, probably soon, where I am in a wheelchair and I don’t remember people’s face,” she reflected. But, until then, I will grasp hold of each day.”

Early Onset Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia tends to affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain (the front and sides) in particular. These parts of the brain are largely responsible for language and the ability to plan and organise, and are important in controlling behaviour.

Frontotemporal dementia often starts at a younger age than usually seen in other types of dementia. It’s caused by clumps of abnormal protein forming inside brain cells. These are thought to damage the cells and stop them working properly.

About one in every three people with frontotemporal dementia has a family history of the condition.

Source: NHS

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