Sunday, February 8, 2009

Watch Me Slowly Lose My Mind

Wait, isn't that what this blog is all about? a chronicle of my descent into dementia. So one day you can all say, "Yes, I saw the signs it was coming to this, and now it has happened. Her brain has passed over to the other side and left her behind in the lurch." Today at church it happened again. They gave me a note saying one of my sons is supposed to give a small talk next week. I cringed. I've only been given one of these notes about 4 times already in the past 6 months and I have forgotten every single time to help my child prepare something. I told my neighbor and she suggested I stick the note on the fridge when I got home. Except by the time I got home, I'd already forgotten. But it gets worse. My son's scout leader called me a few weeks ago and told me they were meeting in one more hour. Could Gigio make it? Of course, I assured her I would bring him over. Except he was finishing up his homework and I didn't want to interrupt. By the time he finished, I had long since forgotten the whole conversation.
I spend more time looking for lost things than anyone else I know. Plus, I get lost on the way to the kitchen to get something for my husband and show up an hour later, with nothing in hand and no memory of his request till he asks me about it. He's stopped depending on me to remember to wake him when he needs to be somewhere early. I totally forget it. He has someone else call him. (Yes, he doesn't know how to set an alarm.)
I'm always planning to go places, like the bank on my way home from somewhere, but I usually forget. Or I plan on calling someone but I never remember till after midnight. I regularly forget what I was planning to do or why I went to a room and have to go back to where I was to try to figure out why I left.
You can ask my kids how forgetful I am, it takes quite a bit to jog my memory of events and things they bring up. Once I went to my son's kindergarten class to help out and one of the kids comes up to me all wide-eyed and says, "Do you really have short-term memory loss? Cause your son said you did."
There was something else I was going to tell you about, but I forgot.
Oh, by the way, Papi is on a homemade pizza binge so I have been making it a lot lately. I have this really good recipe. It works great when it works, but sometimes the dough is too stiff. One day I had to double the water to get it to work. The next time, I started out doubling the water and ended up having to double the flour. Could it be the humidity in the air? Or could it be I was doubling the recipe the first time and forgot to double the water? Or then, if you forget the olive oil altogether, you end up with a less maleable dough as well. Usually the pizza turns out better if you set the timer after putting it in the oven. Also, it helps if you turn off the oven when you turn off the timer and take the pizza out of the oven. These are tips to live by when making the perfect pizza.
Sometimes I get really discouraged with myself.
Reading this info by the Alzheimer's association didn't really help me feel too much better:
Memory loss that disrupts everyday life is not a normal part of aging. It may be a sign of Alzheimer's disease, a fatal brain disease that gets worse over time and causes changes in thinking, reasoning and behavior. Although the disease is more common in people 65 and older, it can also strike those in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

I always joke about donating my brain to science so they can study the earliest onset of Alzheimer's ever. It was a JOKE! This isn't really supposed to happen to people!

Here are 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's:
1. Memory loss. (Yup)
Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common early signs of dementia. A person begins to forget more often and is unable to recall the information later.
What's normal? Forgetting names or appointments occasionally. (What about usually?)
Difficulty performing familiar tasks.
2. People with dementia often find it hard to plan or complete everyday tasks. Individuals may lose track of the steps to prepare a meal, place a telephone call or play a game.
What's normal? Occasionally forgetting why you came into a room or what you planned to say. (Again, define occasionally vs. usually.)
3.Problems with language.
People with Alzheimer's disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words, making their speech or writing hard to understand. They may be unable to find their toothbrush, for example, and instead ask for "that thing for my mouth." (I thought that was a language skill called circumlocution. )
What's normal? Sometimes having trouble finding the right word. (Is every night by 9 pm sometimes?)
4.Disorientation to time and place. (OK, maybe I was born with this.)
People with Alzheimer's disease can become lost in their own neighborhoods, forget where they are and how they got there, and not know how to get back home.
What's normal? Forgetting the day of the week or where you were going.
Poor or decreased judgment. (Whew, this one sounds more like me.)
5.Those with Alzheimer's may dress inappropriately, wearing several layers on a warm day or little clothing in the cold.(No problem there.) They may show poor judgment about money, like giving away large sums to telemarketers.
What's normal? Making a questionable or debatable decision from time to time.
6.Problems with abstract thinking.
Someone with Alzheimer's disease may have unusual difficulty performing complex mental tasks, like forgetting what numbers are and how they should be used. ( I don't think I ever learned to use them normally, is that alright?)
What's normal? Finding it challenging to balance a checkbook.
Misplacing things. (Whew, again.)
7.A person with Alzheimer's disease may put things in unusual places: an iron in the freezer or a wristwatch in the sugar bowl. (Uh-oh. My kids show this sign.)
What's normal? Misplacing keys or a wallet temporarily. (Define temporarily)
8.Changes in mood or behavior. (Oops! Sure hope it's only PMS.)
Someone with Alzheimer's disease may show rapid mood swings – from calm to tears to anger – for no apparent reason.
What's normal? Occasionally feeling sad or moody.
9.Changes in personality.
The personalities of people with dementia can change dramatically. They may become extremely confused, suspicious, fearful or dependent on a family member.
What's normal? People’s personalities do change somewhat with age. (Thank goodness, because I don't think the young me would recognize the old me.)
10. Loss of initiative.
A person with Alzheimer's disease may become very passive, sitting in front of the TV for hours, sleeping more than usual or not wanting to do usual activities.
What's normal? Sometimes feeling weary of work or social obligations.
The difference between Alzheimer's and normal age-related memory changes

Someone with Alzheimer's disease symptoms
Forgets entire experiences
Rarely remembers later
Is gradually unable to follow written/spoken directions
Is gradually unable to use notes as reminders (Gradually would be important, it's ok to be born that way, right?)
Is gradually unable to care for self

Someone with normal age-related memory changes
Forgets part of an experience
Often remembers later
Is usually able to follow written/spoken directions
Is usually able to use notes as reminders
Is usually able to care for self

While I can make fun of myself and my air headed ways, I can't make fun of Alzheimer's itself. It's just not funny. Currently we are supporting my mother in law who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She often asks my husband if he has gotten married yet. We are having our 20th anniversary next month!

Not only that, but my grandmother and more than one of her siblings had this horrible disease. Oh, that was the thing I forgot! Last year I signed up to help with the Alzheimer's Association's yearly fund-raising campaign. But then I forgot to do it. Then I forgot to send it in. Then I was getting reminders and had to tell them that I kept forgetting. Eventually I got it all in only 2 months late. This year I vowed to do better. I have set up a website in the memory and honor my Grandma, Ruth Johnson.
Please visit my tribute page here. Please feel free to donate whatever you feel you can. I know times are hard, but even little amounts add up. The mind you save might just be one of your favorite blogger's. :) I'm so proud of myself I didn't forget to do this today! Please don't let my work go to waste. Go here now. After the campaign, check out the association's donate page at any time of the year for more information and other ways to help.


McEwens said...

I hit the comment button, but I forgot what I was going to say

RAQ said...

I think what you have is related to parenthood not Alzheimer's. Thanks, you made me laugh!!! I'll check out grandma's tribute!

Mary Ellen said...

I suffer from a bunch of the same symptoms, but I put it down to stress and fatigue. I don't think you need to worry yet - you seem pretty 'with it' to me!

Rick said...

I know a guy that does a Bible study at a home for people with Alzheimer. It's really a very easy calling as he gives the same study each week. They've been in Gen. 1 for years now.

P.S. Remember me?

Joanna said...

Some of the same signs are for depression - how weird is that?

Sounds like you're a mom. I hear it's treatable but just a long recovery process.

Darla said...

Too funny! And oh how I can relate!!!!!

mommeeof9 said...

I forget things all the time. I blame it on lack of sleep and pregnancy, though my memory is not that great even when I do get enough sleep. We have a very big calendar on the kitchen wall. If it is not on the calendar, it does not get done. If the kids want to go somewhere, they write it on the calendar. Dr's and other appointments, on the calendar. It has really helped, though we have to remember to write it down.

snaH said...

I used to take comfort from the thought that when I'm older if I come down with Alzheimer's no one would be able to tell the difference. Then I realized that what will really happen is that most people will assume that I have Alzheimer's even if I don't.