Of all the things I’ve ever lost, I miss my mind the most.
Seriously. My short-term memory is virtually non-existent nowadays, and it’s supremely frustrating. I can quote you the lyrics from a song that came out in 1975, but I can’t remember what I ate for lunch this afternoon…or even if I ate lunch at all. I’ve had memory issues since I was in my early 40s, but I blamed them on perimenopause then; now I realize that they were probably due to bipolar. At any rate, STM loss is a pain in the ass and I hate it.
A couple of years ago, I asked Dr. Awesomesauce if I might be developing dementia. I had trouble with word-finding, and sometimes would even forget what I was saying in mid-sentence. He was certain it wasn’t dementia, but possibly a combination of meds and brain damage from repeated bipolar episodes. Lamictal is notorious for this, and I take a crapload of it; I’ve also had many, many episodes of mania and depression throughout the course of my life. I still worry about early-onset Alzheimer’s, and I should get a second opinion from Dr. Goodenough, but I do wonder…which came first, the brain changes or the forgetfulness? And what, if anything, do meds have to do with it?
I mean, this is embarrassing. I’m apt to tell the same story to the same person at least twice; I try to read books but can’t remember the first part of a chapter by the time I get to the end of it; I can’t memorize phone numbers. This is one of the main reasons why I’m on disability, and why I lost my last job working with the state: I had to memorize large amounts of material, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even learn the stupid computer program I was supposed to use. And while I’m confessing, here’s this: on my blog posts, I always have to scroll back up to see what I’ve written lest I repeat myself. Pathetic.
It’s becoming harder to cover my faux pas. Or maybe I just think it is because I notice it and I’m self-conscious about it. My son Ethan thinks it’s funny: “Mom, you’ve said that three times in the past two days. You sound like a broken record!” (Yes, he does know what a record is. That’s what happens when a kid grows up with older parents.) I also miss some things and have to be reminded several times. However, the fact that he doesn’t seem to be concerned about it makes me feel slightly better; he works with elderly patients and knows what dementia looks like.
I strongly believe that meds have a lot to do with it, even though it feels like a cop-out. I’ve been maxed out on Lamictal since my hospitalization in November 2014, and the doctors warned me that this would probably happen. That too is somewhat reassuring, but it doesn’t make life easier. I also seem to fall a lot; I’ve had two of them in the past two weeks and four in the past year. It’s like I forget to lift one foot high up enough and trip over myself. They also told me that lack of coordination and poor balance are other side effects of large doses. But what can I do? I obviously need the medication…
Anyway, that’s my complaint of the day. I’ll scroll back up to see if this post makes sense, and then tonight I’ll crush it on Jeopardy! because I can remember all sorts of trivia as long as it happened in the past. Haha!