06 June, 2016

brain be like gone

at one point in my book club year we read still alice* and it scared the shit out of me because i became immediately convinced that i have early onset alzheimer's. when the book club met it turned out that all the women were terrified they had it so that cheered me up somewhat. but then these weird things happened:

  • before one of the white sands marathons i was talking to some fellow crazies marathoners and bragging about the number of marathons my dad had run (over 60) vis-a-vis his age. thing is, he had just had a big birthday, 60 or 65, and i knew this, but at this moment i suddenly lost (or gained, i can't remember) a year. and i couldn't figure it out no matter what. 
  • several times, in 2-5 second chunks, i got confused about whether it was fall or spring, each shoulder season being similarly brown and unappealing in edmonton, but there were several distinct moments of utter temporal disorientation.

then i turned 40 and started talking to other women who had recently turned 40 and it turned out that this is the new norm: being stupid is how this thing plays out apparently. remember that awesome vocabulary you used to have? no? exactly. so i sort of made my peace with the holes that showed up in my brain and learned to walk around them using various mnemonic devices and parlour tricks.

then sunday night mr. monkey, tb, and i were watching the stanley cup finals when suddenly i looked at the scoreboard and could not for the life of me figure out what the numbers meant. did the bigger number mean that team had scored more or had had more scored against them? and because i realised this was pretty much insane (one doesn't need to know the ins and outs of hockey to know that in any team sport 3:0 means a certain immutable thing) i decided to quietly figure it out in my brain, and explain it to myself in a way that i could understand: in tiny baby steps. and i finally did. but shit, people, it rather frightened me.

if that is the case, if i do lose my marbles, if i fail to make it home, or if i forget my name (i have no hope of retrieving my vocabulary at this point - that thing is gone!), would you please tell mr. monkey that it started around the time of my second marathon and that he has my blessing to move on to someone sane if i'm drooling quietly in a corner somewhere? thanks.

addendum: or i could just drink lots of champagne!!!


*and may i take this opportunity to say how much i hate book covers with photos of the movie that was based on the book?

7 comments:

the auntologist said...

Yes to everything you just said. I had to look up how to spell "outdo" last week. Is it one word or two? Granted that is arbitrary, thanks English. The worst for me is big box stores like Walmart because I absolutely do not know what season it is, what year it is, or what state I'm living in any time I go to one. The people in Lowe's rescued me because I looked so lost and freaked out.

Zhoen said...

You have a bad case of medstudenitis. You'll feel better once you read a good book about something less disturbing.

I was a scatterbrain I was in my early 20s. Used to lose my keys on a weekly basis, favorite t-shirt - vanished, locked out of my apartment - frequent. It's been a while since I've permanently lost anything like that. Mislaid glasses on weekends mostly.

polish chick said...

aunt - yeah, lost and freaked out sounds about right.

zhoen - thing is, i read that book 4-6 years ago. the fear pops up when i have an extended brain fart. forgetting how score-keeping works counts as that, i think!
never been one to lose things. me? i hurt myself, mostly. walk into stuff, trip, cut my fingers. i have permanent bruises on my hips (and i do not bruise easily!) all that, though, is nothing new. these terrifying holes in reality, on the other hand, are. will keep track and see if they come up more often.

Zhoen said...

Ah. Sorry, didn't mean to discount. There are online tests for it, your banananologist probably has some ideas. Hopefully, it's just stress and anxiety, which can do very weird things to our perceptions at times, and are treatable.

polish chick said...

no, no apologies necessary. it's all too easy to fall into the black hole of paranoia and hypochondria, so a little cool headed logic does wonders.

Lucy said...

I know, the other day I completely forgot David Blunkett's name, even though I could see his face and his guide dog and remembered lots of things about the woman he had an affair with even though I couldn't remember her name either, though I could remember the name of the other man she'd had an affair with...

In some ways, like Zhoen, I was far more chaotic and absent-minded in my teens and twenties than now when it came to organising life, keys, appointments etc; training, having a very organised partner, steady living and low stress mean I keep things better organised now, but there is something qualitatively different about these holes that appear in the known fabric of things and the total blanking out of stuff I know I know as well as I know anything.

Yet I remember my mum bewailing this losing of words and things she thought she ought to remember, and thinking that she really was fussing about nothing, the amount that she still retained and her powers of reasoning were still more than adequate. Her geriatric depression, and going round and round in circles of bitterness and regret were, I think, far more of a handicap in surviving the ageing process. A bit of benign forgetfulness wouldn't have done her any harm.

Stuff from earlier life like books I read and art I liked and things like that still stick with me quite well, if rather arbitrarily, so I'm glad I laid up those stores early on.

Lucy said...

OH yes, and that season thing catches me out occasionally too, which I find rather unsettling.