Brain, I Worry About You

I know you’re not exactly a normal brain. Between childhood meningitis and a massive head trauma in our late teens/early twenties, when we lost the ability to form new memories, you’re no longer the shining, fast thing you once were.

I’ve talked about my biggest phobia before. I am afraid of losing you, brain. You’ve already lost a lot of function and it’s only going to get worse as we age.

What worries me are the little things. I will get up to go do or get something and you forget what it was I that I was supposed to do three seconds later. I know this happens to a lot of people, but with us, it’s almost every single time. I have to keep repeating whatever it was we were doing like a mantra otherwise you will forget.

I have had my car for almost a year now and you still can’t seem to remember that the window controls are on the center console and not on the door.

I wake up in the middle of the night not knowing where I am. I wake up with a dog and a cat on me and panic thinking it’s the monster from my childhood.

You couldn’t remember the code to get in the front door to the office this morning. I’ve worked here for just under two years.

You can’t remember half of my co-worker’s names. I usually just say “good morning!” instead of “good morning, Joe!” just in case I’m wrong.

Sometimes you can’t remember keyboard commands. Or passwords. Or phone numbers. Or to do things that I really need to do.

I wrote a check to renew the dog’s license in October, put it in an envelope with a stamp on it and you didn’t remember to mail it until two weeks ago.

You tried to use a driver’s license to buy gas the other day instead of a bank card. And those little diagrams showing which way you’re supposed to swipe your card seem to really confuse us more than they should.

Wait, which way?

Wait, which way?

You couldn’t remember my PIN number at a store and I had to have them cancel the transaction and run it as credit instead while a line of people waited.

I just sat down at my desk and you tried to put my seat-belt on as if we were in the car. My seat-belt. At my desk. What was that about?

I’m afraid that one day, we just won’t be able to hold a job anymore. If we do go back to school, I’m afraid we won’t be able to learn anything.

I will become a vegetable who knows and remembers nothing with only you for company.

I will be one of those people you see in a nursing home who sits in a wheelchair with no discernible purpose at all.

I don’t want to be that person, but we’re already halfway there.

“Who are you again, dearie?”

All brains decline with age, but for us, well, we had a big head start on the not remembering game and I’m afraid that our decline will be more precipitous than most. So, please, brain, can we try a little harder?

I will try to get more sleep. I know this waking up at 4AM thing like we did today is hard on you, but really, aren’t you mostly responsible for that since you started right in with the thinking?

Let’s not lay blame. That’s not what this is about. This is about us working together. This is about you and me not letting these little things get us down. We’re all we’ve got, brain. Go, team, go.

There are 19 comments

        1. goldfish

          Ha. OK. I’ll try. This morning, we thought about work, writing, dreams, food, etc., and then the moments that make me cringe. We always get there eventually and I know when we do, more sleep won’t be possible. So I got out of bed and gave up trying to sleep any more.

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  1. buckwheatsrisk

    Wow you’ve been through a lot! I can relate to some of this. My Hubby worries about me for the future becasuse my memory is so bad, but trauma, and epilepsy I think have a lot to do with it. I hope at least you are able to convince your brain to stop waking you with thoughts at 4 am! Maybe the high five helped with that! xo

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    1. goldfish

      Probably almost everyone can relate to something on that list, but that’s all stuff that happened in the last week or two. sigh. I would just like it not to get any worse (fat chance).

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  2. kirstenhwhyte

    I had to smile at your comment about trying to put your seatbelt on at your desk. This sounds like the type of thing I would do. The other day I tried to make a phone call with the remote and then put the chocolate spread away in the dishwasher and the plate away in the fridge. Unfortunately I don’t have a reason why my brain gets befuddled . . . apart from the fact that I am blonde! They say with Alzheimer’s that keeping your brain active helps. Just little things, like crosswords, puzzles, even writing stories / poetry. I know that’s not what you have, but every little helps, right? Keep smiling :)

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    1. goldfish

      Oh my. I’m terribly sorry that your brain malfunctions like mine. It does make for some funny stories at least. :)

      I do puzzles all the time. I’m not sure that they help, but they can’t hurt I suppose.

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  3. jrosenberry1

    I am so sorry. Like many people, I can relate to some of this. I had chemo back in 2005 (2005!) and my brain still isn’t back to “normal”. Well, what passed for “normal” for *me*, anyway…..
    It’s weird looking at things that I wrote before the chemo and thinking, “wow. who did that? me?” and realizing I will never, ever be back there again. Trying to do a lot of writing, puzzles, etc. Even took two online classes. But it’s frightening. Especially since I am turning 40 tomorrow. Wish I had some good solutions for you. The best thing here is that you are vigilant and doing everything you can do to slow any deterioration. God bless you!

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    1. goldfish

      I’m all too familiar with that feeling of “was that really me?” There’s a pre-headwound and post-headwound me and they really don’t have much in common.

      I hope your chemo went well and you don’t ever have to go through it again.

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  4. jrosenberry1

    And … oh … I forgot! Don’t feel bad about the credit card diagrams. I get horribly confused too, because both sides look sort of correct. I just shrug my shoulders and try “side one”. If that doesn’t work, “side two”. I get embarrassed when cashiers have to help out at the check out (no, stripe to the left. no, your other left. turn it the other way. good!). You’re not alone there.

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  5. Melanie

    My brain got jumbled when my ex attacked me and caused a traumatic brain injury. I have trouble recalling details now and it is very frustrating. I joke about it and tell people as soon as the Short Term details reach Long Term status I will remember again.

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  6. twistingthreads

    You, your writing, and your blog are awesome. I hope you know that.

    My completely unsolicited advice (which you do not have to take) is that you try to find some ways to relax and distract that active brain of yours so that when it wants to think and think and think, it can think about something positive (like a great book you read, or some music with bright pops of color, or a great idea or project you want to work on). I’m not telling you this because I think everything’s going to turn out perfectly rosy if you relax and get some sleep. Of course that would be a lie, and yes, going through life trying to clench every thought with an iron fist, and pay attention to everything you do at all times and slipping up no matter how hard you try sounds incredibly frustrating. I know that having lost something so precious, and mourning it, and seeing what you’ve lost every day, and then having the thought of losing still more in the back of your mind is a terrifying prospect. Somehow (everything is easier said than done, isn’t it? I also don’t have a magic recipe for success, unfortunately), you have to find a way to acknowledge the worst case scenario without panicking. Worrying only makes memory issues worse, and it certainly won’t stave off whatever is going to happen. I guess what I’m trying to say is, that if you can, I would wish that you can find something to enjoy, and not live your life in fear.

    Those credit card “directions” are muck, anyhow. I’ve done the seatbelt thing, too. My ADD has gifted me 2-3 months of “I have no idea what I’m doing, why I’m here, where is that, how did that wind up there, and did I really set my credit cards down and leave them on that shop counter? Why are there twelve things I thought I finished lying about obviously not finished? Mr. Wonderful finds me an endless source of hilarity; I find it humiliating. There is no memory of how any of this junk happened. It’s not that same thing, I know, but I share your frustration with glitchy brain syndrome. Now that I mention it, I’m not supposed to be reading blogs right now. Or spending an hour writing a comment, and rewriting a comment and then fixing that comment because it’s too long/rambles/everything’s out of order/not worded quite right. I am not sure how I got here. That’s…yeesh. I need to go consult my book on stuff I’m supposed to be doing and do it. Sorry about the rambling, and the weirdness.

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    1. goldfish

      I think because my memory problems aren’t a result of natural aging, I’m more sensitive to these little slip ups than most. I try not to let it get me down. This post was really just a way to show how silly my brain is. It was the seat belt thing that did it. Mostly, I do just laugh it off and try not to let it worry me too much, but there is always that niggling little fear. Thank you for you advice and your support. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

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