Memory Loss


Last week when I posted my hoop performance video, my mother and sister were both reminded of a record we had when I was a kid - classic marches - that I didn't have any recollection of. Even having been reminded of it, I have but the vaguest tickle of recall.

This happens to me a lot. It is worrying.

I've always been this way with books and movies. A few of them stick, but most are forgotten; possibly a part of a scene or a song or something will resonate with me, but the rest is quickly lost. I've read voraciously since childhood and assumed that forgetting so-so plots and narrative was my brain's way of keeping room for the good stuff. But the "good stuff" is pretty random and now real life experiences are getting the same treatment.

I don't always remember places I've visited or restaurants where I've enjoyed a meal. Tod knows them and is patient enough to prompt me with details until I have a ping on my radar. "You know, the basement restaurant with the big blue vases? Where the lobby had a old statue of a man smoking and we talked about how you'd never see that anymore? And you had the rice pilaf with the pretty carrots on it?" It can sometimes take a lot of explaining before I twig. And sometimes I never do.

I usually can remember rooms where I've spent considerable time. My childhood homes, a classroom, various apartments and friends' houses. But perhaps I am inventing details over a basic framework of shape and color. I am very good at believing my own make-believe.

But forgetting books, vacations spots, and old LPs isn't the only memory issue that I struggle with. Recently I started doing The Artist's Way, which is a sort of therapy course for blocked creative people. Some of the exercises terrify me. For example, listing five people I admire. I can't think of who they might be, though I am sure I admire five people and then some. Last week we were to list twenty activities we liked to do. It took me three tries to come up with twenty things, even though I know there are scads of things I love to do.

I wonder if I am on the road to dementia? I have unusual white spots on my brain, according to a neurologist and an MRI. These are the sort of spots that are normally only seen on very old people's brains. So yes, perhaps I am on my way to being the crazy lady who doesn't know who you are.

That's scary.

I am developing some strategies for dealing with this current (and possible future) memory loss: live in the present moment without concern for the past or future; teach my body things like hooping and dance that do not require brainpower to enjoy; cultivate a joyfulness in small observations like watching birds and wind; build a body of creative work that will delight, surprise, and inspire me when I explore it.

I try not to be anxious about this, but I am a little. A great deal of my identity is wrapped up in the smart brain I was given. Dealing with loss of mental faculties is difficult. Who will I be if I can't use my mind as I used to?

I don't know. And I have to wonder - did I already blog about this?


Note to self - the Valentine's trip two years ago with the bicycles also had the sky scout and teapot. Read the details here:

Note to readers - Sometimes I have lots of memories, but they are not connected to one another correctly. There are scary blank patches about the above trip that Tod just filled in for me. But he couldn't remember the date and I did.

I know it's easy for me to say, but I'll say it anyway: don't worry. It'll be okay! And you can always chat with your doctor if it seems to get any worse.

I'm glad that you have hooping as a safe outlet and source of joy. Also, that should help keep your brain in shape along with your body, especially if you hoop in both directions. Add in twin hooping and you'll have a super wrinkly brain (wrinkles = memories/learning). :)

What you are describing sounds very familiar to me. Im conscious that some things i remember very well, including sequences of events and some quite involved details. But in other cases, the conversation you described where Tod is trying to prompt your memory is spookily similar to quite a few I have had with Sean, where he gives me detail after detail until I get it. Often even once I've got it, i remember some aspect about what he is reminding me of but not the detail he wants to discuss. I find myself saying that i remember when i actually don't, just to speed up the story process and also in the hope that I will twig as he goes along. I can see him look at me a bit sideways but he hasn't mentioned anything about it yet.

I am sure it was happening before I met Sean, but I didn't have a consistent person who I shared experiences with, so I didn't notice it.

I remember when i went to Germany towards the end of my high school years, I had to attend school but most of it was not comprehensible to me, so i just learned to switch my attention off the noise going on around me and focus on my own stuff. When I got back to Oz, i found it very hard to switch my attention to class back on again, even tho I understood the language. It was as though I just didn't hear anything that wasn't directly addressed to me. I wonder how much of my problem is learned behaviour that could be labelled "laziness"? I wonder how much is related to alcohol etc?

But i have to say, i dont worry about it much.

I wouldn't worry about it too much, but I don't think its a bad idea to do some fun activities to keep your mind sharp.
I remember hearing something a few years ago about how mind puzzlers (crosswords, sudoku, etc.) can slow the brains aging process.
I don't know by how much it slows cognitive decrease... or what studies back that up, but I figure it cant hurt and it seems to make sense. I like that kind of stuff anyway :) fun and beneficial.

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  • Amanda in Pittsburgh: I wouldn't worry about it too much, but I don't read more
  • j-ster: What you are describing sounds very familiar to me. Im read more
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  • Kristen: Note to self - the Valentine's trip two years ago read more
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