My surgery has been moved up and will now occur on April 13th. I am happy about this for a myriad of reasons which I will not discuss today. Today, my thoughts go to irrational fears and coping mechanisms.
When I was a kid, I remember having a discussion with friends about the “worst way to die”. There was discussion of fire, drowning and suffocation. I had watched a news piece on Alzheimer’s and my great-uncle suffered from the disease. To be physically alive but your mind not present, to me, THAT was the worst death imaginable.
Over the past year I have had some issues with memories. The issues are nothing that would hinder me in my day-to-day life/relationships. But the issue is glaringly noticeable to me. Thinking about my issue leaves me feeling irrational so I have not spoken about it with anyone until now.
I possess a “virtual cornucopia of useless information”. A lot of that relies on my ability to call to mind stupid articles, books, news pieces, music lyrics, movies – which I have digested at various stages of my life. I pride myself on being able to use “good words”, a byproduct of all that digestion. In the past year I have found myself on numerous occasions saying a word that was not in my mind as I formed the sentence. I have noticed it will start with the same letter, but it is the wrong word. As if my mind, while flipping through my mental rolodex, stopped one card short. For instance, I wanted to say “I saw a picture on the internet of…” and what I actually said was “I saw a pickle on the internet…” There was no pickle on the internet. There was no tangible thought of a pickle until the word left my mouth. It is unnerving to me and has happened too many times to count in the past several months. Occasionally I slur my words. It will come out recognizable, but slightly slurred (a result of catching myself getting ready to use the wrong word and trying to reverse course last second). Unnerving. I read my “on this day” posts on Facebook and displayed there are my thoughts on some movies and books that I have zero recollection of reading/watching. Also unnerving.
I know that my hormones being off can create memory fog. The doctor discussed that with me. And yes, I know, for the umpteenth time, I am “getting older” and it goes with that territory as well. It still makes it no less unnerving; no matter what the cause. This weekend I read an article from Tracey Minkin from Coastal Living Magazine. She once wrote, while going through menopause, about the fog she felt and memory loss she experienced and she connected it with decreasing estrogen levels. It was a chance “click” on a Purple Clover post and it resonated with me. I immediately found her on twitter, thanked her for the article and asked if it got better. Her response: “As a data point of one, I’d say it does. Hang in there!” If you look up “studies on the effect of estrogen loss on memory” you will find a ton of data that sways either way on its effect on cognitive functioning. It is interesting to read but it does little to settle my troubled mind.
(The actual post I clicked: http://www.purpleclover.com/health/1988-my-brain-menopause/)
Let us add to this mix that I am also obsessive. I will pick at a thought and pick at it until it has festered and becomes unrelenting. Then I will try to compensate in what I see as a healthy way. Welcome to my personal library. This room in my house was a gift to me from my husband while planning my dream home. It is my favorite part of our house. It is the heart of my memories and passions. It is filled to the brim with artwork, books, graphic novels, mementos that I have hoarded over the years and various knickknacks that most people would lose over the course of their life. Recently, I took on the (IMHO) daunting task of cleaning shelves, arranging books in a manner representing my personal organization, sorting mementos so that their collective memories form a domino of thoughts in my head and I added a piece of furniture to the mix, a new futon. In front of the futon, beneath my desk, I arranged a number of photos of the people who matter most to me, the memories that matter to me. When I am feeling off-center and am filled with irrational fears of memory loss that are inflamed by my obsessive tendencies, I find myself in my little office – my eyes move from shelf to shelf, from picture to picture and I play in my head a snippet of my life that is associated with what my eyes have landed on. I prove to myself that I am able to recollect what happened at various points in my life. I calm my nerves. I expose that which is irrational.
You know, I write these things for me – not a particular audience. I write them to give voice to my thoughts, no matter how irrational or odd, to put them out there, to address them and to remove their power to scare me (without reason as to how much or how little their effect might have). Some of you might see me as odd. I am completely fine with that. I have been a “little odd” my whole life. I am comfortable in that skin. It is not necessary for everyone to understand.
Thanks to everyone for your love and support, it is appreciated more than you will ever realize.