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Monday, January 04, 2010

Welcoming 2010 with memory problems

Can't blame it on too much holiday cheer - no alcohol for quite a while. I refuse to go to "oh no, a brain tumor" - other biological things are in play that act on memory. Such as:
1. My thyroid has been low, it turns out, so my primary care doc is working to get me level again. Thyroid disease acts on memory.
2. Stress acts on memory, and we have been experiencing some run-of-the-mill type of stress that follows both adult kids living at home and all of us held captive by sub-zero temps.
3. I am of a certain age - pushing 50 doesn't mean I am elderly (unless I was born near the turn of the 20th century), but the brain has gone through a lot.
4. Disturbed sleep patterns act on memory - due to any of the above, my sleep has been poor over the past couple of months.
I feel like I am in a constant state of deja vu, feeling that I have already done something that sounds like a good thing to do or something that I need to get done by a certain time (bill paying, sending birthday cards, emailing thanks to someone for the difference they have made in my life), when I am probably experiencing the echo of the original thought. To cope, I have lists (and I am NOT a list person), with dates/times/other clues showing that I have done the deed that I need to do. The alternatives are that either the thing doesn't get done, since my swiss cheese brain thinks I have already done it (pretty bad that I can't trust my brain these days), or I do it twice (making my semi-duplicate initial messages to an old friend Facebook seem like a stalker, or resulting in co-workers getting multiple happy birthday wishes, which is happening to those born in January). Let's just say that I won't be applying for Jeopardy any time soon. And I rein in any comments or offering of facts when in groups - not sure if a) it has been said already, and/or b)I have the correct fact in hand. Since my professional day is spent verifying facts, my job performance is doing ok (as long as I follow the lists), but I couldn't play Trivial Pursuit right now if a set of synthetic taste-buds was the prize. The thing I noticed today was that I couldn't record entire telephone numbers - had to look up and record 18 of them for a handout I created. I could go back and forth and type in the number on the handout 3 or 4 digits at a time - not the entire 10 in one whack. (Cut and paste was not an option this time-just short term memory.)
The spouse suffers in this, too. I ask him multiple times about something coming up or what he might want for lunch, say, and he gets to thinking that I am a huge nag. Or I don't communicate with him at all about something that blows up later. Lucky for me, he is pretty patient. As for Lucky the dog, during this cold weather I stand at the open door to make sure I get him back inside when he is done with his abolutions - I can't risk leaving him forgotten on the porch in these temperatures.
(added 1/7/10) Thanks for all the comments - you all are great! Maybe my problems really stem from the central air handling unit that resides over my office: .


Rebecca said...

Ah, that is not happy. I will keep you in my thoughts and hopefully when the weather relaxes, and sleep comes more consistently you will not need so many lists.

On a different topic, did you see this article? Thought it would be good fodder for your blog
The Loneliness Of Fighting A Rare Cancer
Amy Dockser Marcus
Health Affairs 29(1): 203-206

Jeanne said...

Hey Teri--I'm having the same kind of memory issues and it's a bitch.

The telephone number thing is a problem that I share--I can't remember the whole 10 digits long enough to copy it down. In the old days, I used to be able to remember all sorts of phone numbers in my head, but those days are gone.

I blame my problems on chemo brain, stress, and aging (55 now).

I try to be kind to myself--because getting upset just makes it all worse--and I make lists. Lots and lots of lists.

Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone in this. Hugs to you,


Dee said...

Ah, I'm sorry, Teri! I have lists all over and I'm not sure if they help. Sounds like you're coping as well as you can . .. just don't beat yourself up over it and forgive yourself for any mistakes. Something's going on, that's for sure. In the meantime, maybe if you stand back and observe yourself from a distance, it might be interesting. Have you heard of Jill Bolte Taylor. She wrote "A Stroke of Insight" which is about how she kinda studied herself as she had a stroke and then recovered from it. If you google her name, you'll see a short video clip of her on Ted Times that's really interesting and moving. Might take your mind off things! Love ya!

Korean Cuisine said...

I'm decades younger and I'm having the same problems. I think it has to do with radiation to the head? We have a small business and I used to have all our client's phone numbers memorized by I'm lucky if I can remember the number to our office.

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