There’s a book about memory loss I read a while back – don’t bother asking when – called “Carved in Sand”. For the life of me, I can’t remember anything about it except the title. (Don’t you love irony?) The title alone, however, is sufficient to describe my memory. The subtitle drives the point home: “When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife”. It could just as easily have said, “When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in MS”.
What if, as is the case for me, both life stages are true?* To what do I attribute my fading ability to recall even the most recent events of my life? Especially the most recent events.
I can tell you all about my third grade experiences at Veterans Memorial School under the kindly tutelage of Miss Kierstead, the prototypical middle-aged spinster schoolmarm. I can repeat, note for note, the guitar solo from Steve Miller’s 1969 version of the old spiritual and civil rights rallying cry, “Don’t You Let Nobody Turn You Round”.
These days, I might as well hang a sign off my head, borrowed from an efficient dry cleaning service: “In by 9, out by 5”.
There are only so many slots in the brain to store stuff. As you age, there’s more information to stash away. If I learn a new name, there’s a good chance another will be pushed out. If it’s yours, I apologize in advance.
MS exacerbates (Don’t you love MS puns?) the problem of age by building little quicksand spots – lesions, black holes, whatever – in the brain that swallow up the contents of that location. If your name or my home phone number once occupied that spot, kiss’em goodbye. As you age and MS continues its zombie-esque proclivity for munching on your brain, memory real estate disappears.
With that backdrop, and with almost 300 posts going back five years in this blog (and another 40 or so in my other blog), what are the odds of me occasionally repeating myself? I’m no statistician, but I’d give it about a 1:1 chance. In fact, it was last week’s post that inspired this one. After writing for about an hour, everything started sounding eerily familiar. The reason? I’d written virtually the same post less than a year before. I did a little literary tap-dancing and made it at least partially fresh, but it’s really just recycled ideas. Maybe Hollywood has MS since they keep dredging up the same tired old ideas.
The only thing working in my favor is that most of my audience has MS. They’ve probably forgotten what I said in the first paragraph, never mind what I wrote a couple of years ago.
By the way, have I told you about the book I read a while back called, “Carved in Sand”?
*This is a common dilemma for people with MS. So many symptoms typical of the disease can also be attributed to other maladies or just plain aging. Many of my friends with MS also deal with other debilitating (and often invisible) conditions – diabetes, bipolar, lupus, and Lyme, among others – and we’re all getting older. The doctors scratch their heads while we writhe in pain and confusion.