24 Nov I’ve Lost my Mind, Amongst Other Things!
My mother, the enigmatic Margie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about eight years before she died. Fortunately, this happened before she completely lost her memory. She still recognised her children, though the grandchildren and great-grandchildren were known as several different family members, and this all depended on the day. I’m not sure they liked that they had multiple personalities, but they adapted well and played the game. We used to refer to her state of mind in terms of having her fuses plugged in. Sometimes they were. Other times the plug was well and truly pulled from the socket. On those days, it was a struggle to hold a conversation … and it was often on a two-minute loop! And, please, don’t ask me about her numerous teddies that talked to her. Or the puppies and kittens on her calendar. Or the different voice she gave to each one. It was like a Punch and Judy show. Suffice to say, I was often exceptionally exhausted at the end of each visit. It did, however, make for entertaining conversations with others when relating some of the more humorous incidents.
I know as we get older, our capacity to remember diminishes a little. That is expected. Our brain cells can only live for so long, and during our lives we inadvertently kill off a few before their time. Let’s face it, we are products of the sixties and seventies. There are very few of us who did not drink, smoke, or do drugs. Most of us did all three, to various degrees. If it was recreational, we’re probably still going ok. Those of us who applied ourselves to enjoying more of those heady days are probably paying the price. We only have to look at our aging rock stars to understand what I’m talking about. It’s not only the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart that take a beating; the mind does as well. The outcome today will depend on the drug or drugs of choice and remember those two decades were all about the hallucinatory ones. No wonder the fashion was very hippy; colourful, psychedelic, and way out there! And now many of the tokers, ingesters and snorters are paying the price. Their bodies may be still going strong, somehow, but their minds are fried, futile, and just plain f&*Ked. And that’s just being frank. It means they’ve been in one continuous happy state for the last fifty years … I’m only realising now we, the majority, must be the mugs, not them!
Any way … back to becoming forgetful! I think the brain is a little like a computer. When we’re younger, and the brain cells are numerous, the brain has an enormous gigabyte memory capacity. As we age, some areas of the computer become damaged. This is mostly due to our lifestyles, our mental health, as well as our physical health. Occasionally we may need to go in for a service and have parts upgraded or replaced. Eventually, however, a newer model will be our replacement. We will no longer have the speed or memory to do what is expected of us, and we will be retired. Our gigabytes are then, quite possibly, only megabytes. And if we’re really unlucky, only kilobytes. Our brain is, therefore, unable to hold all the information it had previously, and we are required to delete some data. Sometimes this is done randomly and by error. And what we need to remember is no longer stored in the cloud. It has gone into the bin, and that has been emptied. No matter how we search around in the hard-drive, we are unable to retrieve it. And even with saving information onto a USB stick, so we don’t lose it, we often fail to find what we need. Basically, some of our brain cells die off, others become lazy from underuse, while others have never really participated in the whole thinking process at all. Throw luck into the equation, and the outcome is how well we will remember as we age. Although they say you must keep your mind active to stave off memory loss, I’m not sure this is entirely true. Remember, we were told masturbation would make us go blind. I may need glasses, but then so do ninety percent of those my age. So, what is that saying about the majority of us?
So, where am I on the memory scale at sixty? I’m doing ok, I think. My children may have a different point of view. Let’s say I remember eighty percent of what I should; the other twenty percent is hopefully, though not always, the less important stuff in my life. I will admit to being reliant on writing down things, especially appointments and things I need to do or buy. I’m also starting to write down things I need to complete on my days off, though I’m sure a lot of that has something to do with being lazy and pretending I forgot, rather than actually forgetting. That’s a huge difference. By writing them down, and in order of priority, I feel a sense of achievement in being able to tick each item off. And I reward myself if I do all of the tasks. I’m very reward orientated, and an over-achiever. Always have been, and am likely to be that way until I grow my angel wings. Or devil horns, as is the case! Do I remember everything … hell NO! Am I at the stage of worrying about it? Not enough to make an appointment with a doctor. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I should have better recall. We all know stress is the number one killer of memory. Why do you think so many students flounder at times of exams? Why do so many people break out in a nervous sweat when going for an interview? Why do I forget to pay my mobile account on time? Stress. Well, for two out of three. The correct answer to the third question is because payday is not for another couple of days after the due date! And they can wait; their service is shite anyway!
I have noticed, however, I’m not as good at remembering some things as I once was. I had one of those memories that naturally stored birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates, like a perpetual calendar. And I knew everyone’s telephone numbers and addresses, without having to look them up in my Teledex. I could reel them off and be one hundred percent correct. Now I seem to remember the birthdays of my ex-husbands’ parents, but forget those of my own parents. I have to concentrate on remembering the years in which my children were born, but remember the years I went to primary school. Recently, I wrote down my previous mobile, last used in 2011, then panicked as I’d momentarily forgotten the number I’ve had for the last four years. I can recite addresses of places I lived in decades ago but had trouble remembering the addresses of where I’ve lived in the past five years for a voting enrolment. What does this say? Basically, it means I remember lots of useless information. That my memory bank has deleted the wrong files, and that under duress I sometimes, and that’s the critical word here, sometimes forget what I should possibly remember. Is it the beginning of my slide into that abyss of unconscious consciousness? Maybe. And I’ll keep an eye on it … if I remember.
My P-i-C also has some memory loss. It goes with his selective hearing. I’m not sure these disorders have anything to do with age but are actually gender-related. He seems to have an amazing ability to remember the makes of a vast variety of cars, the years they were produced, and how many seconds it took them to go from zero to one hundred kilometres per hour. Unfortunately, or is it conveniently, he forgets to go into the jewellery shop to buy me some bling … just because! Even when I remind him, over and over again, and leave little notes, with lots of hearts and kisses, in convenient places. Seriously, he needs to make an urgent appointment with our medical practitioner. Though he is male too, and I think they’ll conspire together to make it seem like it’s my memory at fault. Oh, NO! That’s being paranoid … another symptom of advancing dementia.
Maybe I should quit looking at Dr Google, and book another cruise. If I can remember how to do it!