How could a simple question throw me into such a turmoil? “What did you have for breakfast?” my husband wanted to know and my brain went totally blank. “Did I have breakfast?” Yes, I am sure I did, probably a green smoothie or maybe a gluten-free toast with a slice of Italian prosciutto, the cheap brand from Aldi’s.
But I couldn’t remember. As hard as I tried, nothing came up.
I have noticed memory loss for a while. I can remember what I wore on my first day in boarding school, mainly because I looked like a stuffed parakeet, but I cannot remember what I ate a few hours ago. My long-term memory is fine. I remember lyrics to all the ’70s and ’80s songs. I remember my treasured moments with people in the past and all the places I was fortunate to see. I remember our life together, even though we don’t always agree on the places or the dates (he will never get it that I am right.)
If you still remember that you can’t remember, you are fairly safe from having Alzheimer‘s, a doctor told me once and it made me laugh, but it also made sense.
Not being able to remember the small things bothers me. How can it be? I remember my childhood and things in the past so clearly. Dates, names, places -they are all in order. What’s not in order is breakfast?
What did I wear yesterday? That’s an easy one. I worked in my workroom, so it wore jeans with a black shirt. I have about 20 black shirts and I wear them when I work, so I am no distraction to all the colors around me when a customer comes by. Also, the shirts are dirt cheap and it doesn’t matter if I stain them, or rip another hole with an old staple or nail. So the clothes I wear are not in question. How about breakfast? Bummer!
I am a retired translator and interpreter. Remembering is part of my existence. The words, the languages, the phrases, all of it neatly stored in my invisible language drawers upstairs, right there where the brain is supposed to be functioning.
I noticed that my husband gets sidetracked easier too. Nowadays, I joke and I make the same finger-eye sign that I use when I train our dogs when I want their full attention. He doesn’t like it when I do it, which makes me laugh. At least then I know I have his attention.
If I don’t have his full attention, I know what answer he will give me in a few days when I have to remind him of something.
“I don’t remember.” And he pushes the blame nicely toward me. “Did you forget to tell me?” Bastard! (Lovingly said, because in our home it’s a very special form of endearment. A running joke between us.)
Multitasking has been more complicated lately. Ever since I found my socks in the freezer, I try to focus more in the kitchen. Yesterday I balanced a plate with silverware, a pepper mill, and an empty aspirin bottle in the kitchen.
This is when it gets tricky. Plate in the sink, aspirin in the trash, silverware also in the sink, and pepper mill back on the counter. Silverware has come up missing. Knives and spoons mostly. I bet my behind that we have been throwing it away by accident. Off you go with the leftovers we don’t keep. Bon voyage! Thrown away by accident with an empty yogurt cup.
I talked with my best friend about it. “Yes, I know what you are talking about,” she admitted. We talked about it for a while and she mentioned a brain game she plays every morning. “Or learn a serial number of a different dollar bill every day,” she recommended.
I tried the memory training with the dollar bill for a few days, it’s no fun.
I found an online memory game. A simple game we all played when we were kids. The cards are set up facedown in rows and columns. The object of the game is to collect the most pairs and remembering where all the cards are placed. I sucked at it as a child and it hasn’t changed a bit. Our 3-year old neighbor child can beat me by a mile. I know it, I don’t even have to try it.
Then I found Lumosity.
Every morning I log in and I play the three free games of the day. Different games, requiring and testing my skills all with the goal to improve my memory. Do I pay attention? Am I still flexible enough? How about my focus and my eye-hand coordination.
Speed/Memory/Flexibility/Attention and Problem Solving. Boy, oh boy!
At the end of the game you get the result. 573 on the first day. “I had been nervous,” I told myself, not knowing if my result was good or bad, to begin with.
Last week, I scored an 803, now I am up to 996. Some of the games are right up my alley, and I get tempted to pay the fee and sign up for unlimited gaming, other games show me clearly my shortcomings now.
I never had a problem with numbers but the other day, when I calculated something in my head, it took more time than usual. What is 372 and 481? The number games at Lumosity are the ones challenging me the most. I have to think, and I notice my thinker is working slower now. How can it be?
Some days I have brain fog. I get it on days when I don’t eat right. I live a healthy lifestyle. I have to because that’s what you do when you are not healthy. If I eat right the world is crystal clear and I feel like in my 30s -ok 40’s.
Perhaps my brain knows me well enough by now to decide what is important and what is not? Surely, breakfast is not one of the topics I normally feel the need to talk about. There it is! Finally I found an excuse why I don’t remember. Maybe my brain erases unimportant STUFF to keep space open for the important things in my life? Wouldn’t it make sense? The bin with treasured memories must be overflowing in my mind.
Or I am just aging, and I have to face the facts that come with it.
My memory is not the same anymore, neither is my body. Even my dreams and wishes have changed and they have nicely adjusted to my new age.
I will be 60 in two years, not a spring chicken anymore, even though there are days I feel like one.