Saturday, January 13, 2007

Living with memory loss (someone else's) Pt 1

Part of the reason for needing to re-balance my life is because Paul's health changed last year. I can't remember exactly what I posted, and I'm afraid I'm too lazy to trawl my archives - but in summary, Paul developed some temporary, but longish-term, neurological problems.

It had a dramatic start, but soon settled into a pattern of about 15 -20 abscence-type moments during the day (he will 'freeze' for about 5 seconds, then 'come to' with a slight jolt). This is accompanied by short term memory loss - he's fine on the day itself (as much as anyone is!) but only remembers about half of what has happened the day before (and this memory so far has remained lost). I should point out that this is the current situation and a definite improvement on when it all started in October -then he remembered little, if anything, of the day before and sometimes even lost memory from the same day.

I don't think that I'm unusual in that I've pretty much adjusted to this now. The absences obviously have a day to day effect in that he can't drive, but don't affect most of his general day to day ability to do things. The memory loss often doesn't feel too prominent - he doesn't know what he's forgotten, I don't realise he's forgotten it unless I ask or make reference to something and anyway, we've always been big on writing lists. The biggest effect is financial in that he's only on Statutory Sick Pay at work, and that he is likely to lose his job.

Yet despite this, I am often surprised by coming across evidence of what he remembers and what he doesn't. The other day I taught Paul to play cribbage. We did this in the knowledge that he finds it hard to take on new information, and that he might not remember any of it the next day. That same day, we received a belated Christmas card from a friend, with some beautiful magnetic pictures - we both admired them, and later that day he stuck them on the fridge.

The next day, Paul remembered enough about cribbage to beat me - thoughts about his memory loss moved to the back of my mind. In a break in playing, we made drinks and Paul went to get milk from the fridge.

"Those are lovely pictures on the fridge" he said "where have they come from?"

1 comment:

Stuntmother said...

Oh darling. You are both so brave and so wonderful.

I suspect you've read (probably years ago) Oliver Sachs' books like The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, but if you haven't, they would make bittersweet but entertaining reading. Our brains are such amazing, adaptable, impressionable, powerful things. We understand so little about them and their ins and outs are so mysterious.

You are always in my thoughts... and someday, I'm going to play cribbage with you both, though you'll have to teach me how.