What was I talking about?

I might just be going a little crazier each day. Maybe. Maybe not. But my money’s on maybe.

Granted, the combination of elements is not so much in my favour these days. Of particular note: purging myself of 50% of my possessions; encouraging (ahem, strongly encouraging, without insisting) my 3 children to divest themselves of upwards of 50% of their possessions; packing up a goodly 50% of what’s left to go into storage until more concrete future plans are set in motion; living amidst the exploding chaos of the aforementioned purging and packing process; doing all of the above with raging joint swelling/arthritis and chronic back pain; being off of work for the forseeable future, also because of said pesky joint issues, which are the direct result of a virus – which the doctors think was probably parvovirus – or at least that’s what the docs hope this is all a direct result of; and…let’s see…oh, having no money because of the whole not working thing, and all the roundhouse joy that comes with that quagmire. Whew. Exhausted?  Me too. Oh yeah, and not drinking, not smoking, and eating a low-cholesterol, diabetic-type diet. Super fun.

So, after being off work for a little over two years with my back injury, and then going back to work last fall, I discovered something that I had previously not known about myself: I prefer working to not working. What? So it turns out that, although I had long espoused winning the lottery and never working another day in my therefore luxurious life, I am someone who prefers the validation of a job well done and the social environment of working in a company with people I really enjoy. So being in a situation whereby I am NOT at work AGAIN, merely 7 months after going back to work is, well, depressing.

I also far prefer a body that affords me the capability to do the things I want to do than one that restricts me from the things that are important to me. That, clearly, is a whole other ball of yarn. But let me suffice it to say that I 1) am building up a reasonable amount of resentment for this body which houses me, and which clearly should have been returned while still under warranty, and 2) am also discovering a renewed sense of appreciation for my paternal grandmother, who spent an awful lot of her last years in devastating levels of pain from osteo-arthritis. I don’t pretend to know her levels of arthritis pain, not by a long shot. But if this small measure that I am experiencing is any taste, I can’t even imagine what she endured.

The more ridiculous my body becomes, the more my mind is called into question. At least by me.

I know that living in chaos, in terms of my physical space, drives me mad. (Ha! I’m funny.) But the more disorganized my physical surroundings are, the less capable I am of keeping a lid on the thought cycles that spin so easily out of control for me. So easily out of control. I get paralyzed with the inability to make any appreciable difference. I am so paralyzed that I don’t even know where to start. Too many days I just simply can’t start at all. Or if I do start, I don’t get very far, because underneath all the chaos, I am a perfectionist of a fairly high order, and so when I do start to organize, I am meticulous when I need to be generalized, going through everything with a fine-toothed comb when I need broad strokes. And so I go round and round in circles, never making appreciable – or at least visible – inroads into the craziness that I live amongst. That, folks, is the NUMBER ONE REASON I need to get rid of, at bare minimum, 50% of the things I own.

So, none of that sets a very pretty stage, I understand. But the behind-the-scenes is no less terrifying.

I have been having spells of confusion. They don’t last very long, maybe 5-20 seconds. But, I look at something that I should be very familiar with, be it a driving route, or a sentence written in plain English. And it just doesn’t compute. I know it should. I know it’s familiar. But it takes me a few seconds – far longer than it should – to process the information, for my brain to turn it into anything I can grasp. And in the interim, I’m a useless idiot. So, that’s neurological weirdness number one.

I have been losing words. This has been a concern for longer. I first brought this up to my doctor about 2 years ago, when I was taking enough meds to kill Michael Jackson. (Was that in poor taste? I think so. But not baseless. Shortly after Jacko died, my dad literally called me and said, “Um, so you’re on some of the same meds that killed Michael Jackson, and I think you need to not be. We don’t want to find you dead too.” Dad, I love you but…I really need to address this delusion that YOU found Michael Jackson. Anyway. So. Back to the story.) My doctor didn’t seem to put much stock in the fact that I would lose my train of thought way too often – it went far beyond walking into a room and not remembering why you were headed there – or that I would not be able to retrieve the word I wanted, even when it was sitting on the tip of my tongue.

And you see, this word retrieval business was the most troubling for me, being my father’s daughter, and as such, my social sphere’s walking thesaurus (and local dead-Michael-Jackson-finder, obviously.) But my doc simply attributed it to my meds, and didn’t look any further, even when I told him of the mental disintegration that had plagued generations of women on my mother’s side of the family. OK, well, by generations, I suppose I mean 3 that we know of. And I would be the third of those generations. It happened to my grandmother and all of her sisters. My mother started noticing the first stirrings when she was in her mid-thirties (which, as it so happens, I was when I first started talking to my doctor about it.) I am now 37 years old, and the speed with which my memory seems to be eroding has just quadrupled, since I had this virus.

I can’t remember words, horrifyingly often. I can’t remember what I was talking about in the middle of a sentence or story, a little less often, but still with far greater frequency than should be happening. On occasion – and this is maybe the most terrifying of all – I have trouble with a person’s name. If it were a casual acquaintance, fine. However, when it’s close friends or family? Not fine. Not fine at all. And then there are the panic attacks. Oh, the panic attacks.

All in all, I feel like I’m losing my mind, quite literally. It’s not OK. It is scary as hell, especially when I’m without a partner to talk me down from the metaphorical ledge when I get really ramped up about all of it. I’m really kind of over it. If only it were that easy.

Wait, maybe it is that easy. What was I talking about?


5 Responses to “What was I talking about?”

  1. August 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Dear Debilated (Dotty & Divine),

    I have led a relatively med-free life and am actually quite concerned with my cognitive disabilities. I don’t mean to underestimate the possibilities of side effects or your blood line, but thought you might take comfort in knowing that this can also happen to a person for no good reason. (Although my blood line isn’t looking good either, come to think of it.) Sometimes a sense of panic washes over me as I engage in group conversations cause I often (way too often) lose track of what I wanted to say or just can’t find the most basic of words. Names are long gone. Doesn’t matter if they are family or friends. Sigh. So, I feel your pain. The mental pain, that is.

    Total side note: How exactly do you “strongly encourage without insisting” your kids toss their crap? I live with a hoarder and I need a script.


    • August 8, 2010 at 1:07 am

      Is it a function of our age? Probably. Is it SOLELY a function of our age? I don’t buy it. So what gives? But it is nice to know I’m not alone. It is terrifying, isn’t it?

      I’m waiting for an appointment with the neurologist, with rather bated breath. We’ll see what insights they may offer. I’ll let you know.

      As for the mini-hoarders, I’ve adopted the action plan of my friend Ms. V. When they were moving (but this could just as easily be done during a major clean, and then simply replaced to shelves, etc. later), she gave her daughter 2 large Tupperware bins. (I guess they aren’t really Tupperware, but you know what I mean, right? Sterilite maybe? The ones I got are 74L.) Her daughter got to choose what toys she kept, but they all had to fit into those two bins, and the lids had to be able to be closed.

      I’ve opted to be slightly more generous. My kids each get 3 toy bins, plus one book bin (I’m a big fan of reading, so I feel like I’d better allow them to keep their books, right?) Within those four bins, they need to assemble all the things that are important to them, from their bedroom and playroom. Whatever they choose to keep has to fit into those bins, period. Anything else goes into either the giveaway bags/bins, the garbage, or the recycling. I will pack their clothes, but I have discovered Space Bags, which are a godsend for anyone wanting to store clothes, linens, or anything else soft and squishy, and mine have been getting a workout.

      So far they’re on board with the concept, although they haven’t had to see it through to the end yet, so we’ll see how it goes as we progress…..

  2. August 8, 2010 at 11:43 am

    When you pose the question “is it a function of our age?” are you referring to the collective ‘We’ or are you talking about you and I? Call me a Conspiracy Theorist, but I tend to think that the wireless world is frying our brains. Of course, that doesn’t explain why others are capable of remembering their children’s names when we can’t…

    PS Thanks for the anti-hoarding advice! Maybe I’ll be able think straight when I don’t have have to do it through a fog of puzzle pieces and matted, dollar store Barbie hair?


    • August 25, 2010 at 3:39 am

      Well, to be fair, probably the collective “we”, as well as the specific you and I “we” we ere both being targeted. And I agree that all this wireless magic that we (read: “I”) are so addicted to doesn’t make anything any better. However, I am planning an MRI only brain tout suite just to be on the safe side. No, really.

      Is it wrong that part of me is already looking forward to when they move away to college (or to join the circus, whichever) already? Just so I’ll only have my own shit underfoot?

  3. September 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    well, good luck getting to the bottom of all that-
    the more concerned i get about my memory, the more trouble i have with it.

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