Memorize… what?

 

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Image: Pixabay – Giralt

So, in 1996 I had a stroke (brought on by taking too much Ultram) and was dead for about somewhere between 20 minutes and two hours… my six-year-old daughter found me, and after the EMT’s showed up and worked on me for nearly 30 minutes, I regained a pulse. I also gained some brain damage. After a week long hospital stay and two weeks of grueling occupational therapy, I was sent to live with my mother because I couldn’t be trusted to take care of my children.

Everone was afraid I’d start dinner and burn the house down because I forgot the stove was on or even worse, have the baby in the bathtub, get distracted by the phone or my reflection and let my baby drown because, ‘what baby?’ Or maybe I’d drive to the store with the kids, forget I went there with kids, leave the kids there and then think I lived in Oklahoma on a llama farm or something.

My short term memory was shattered. People have compared me to Drew Barry’s character in Fifty First Dates which was cute until I actually saw the movie and I wasn’t as amused as most people.

“Jesus Christ, I’m not that f**king bad,” I’d snap in annoyance. I was finally able to watch the whole movie about a year ago and laugh at most of it.

My long term memory was fine. My memory about grade school, getting picked on, and my abusive cheating husband at the time were all grooved in my brain like a brand new tire tread. I still remembered I was married (miserably), that I had four kids and amazingly every word to any song I ever heard prior to 1996. But it ended there.

I couldn’t remember anything new. I couldn’t remember that I told my mom a story (from my long term memory) every twenty minutes. I couldn’t remember that I just ate or just drank coffee or just smoked a cigarette. I couldn’t remember that the bedroom I occupied at my parents’ house was mine; my old bedroom – my childhood bedroom – was the back bedroom and now my little brother had that one. How the hell did I get downgraded to the oversized closet with a bed?

Oh right… I hadn’t lived at home since 1990. I had no clout there. I was the dysfunctional eldest daughter; the oldest sibling who could never quite get her shit together… ever. And now I was back like the beer stain everyone thought was permanently scrubbed from the carpet.

I moved out of my parents and got my kids back in 1999, and while I had great intentions and did my best, it all fell apart in two years and then I was back in a new level of hell with less kids and more drama.

Fast forward to 2017, twenty-one years later, and I can honestly say while keeping weird lists, writing down directions to a place less than five miles away, writing down on my hand where I parked the car and other things that I should remember, it is a little less daunting, but still embarrassing.

“No, it isn’t a tattoo. It is directions to my car in the parking lot.”

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http://www.wowwhatwhy.com

There are even times I am talking to someone and the thoughts I have in my head are disappearing as I am trying to convey them. I’ll be mid-sentence and just wrap it up because I literally forgot what I wanted to say.

:(I have tried Ginko Biloba, changing my diet, more sleep, and lots and lots of brain puzzles.  Every day I do word searches and even play my own ‘memory games’ in an effort to make my brain stronger, but honestly, all I can really ever do is memorize lyrics to songs.

 

That’s it. I mean, yes, I remember other things. But I have to work really hard at it. But I don’t have to work so hard to remember music. Never music.

Maybe I should sing everything I want to remember.

Take nothing for granted my friends.

Do you have any tricks to remember stuff or are you like an elephant?

Peace and love to you all.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/memorize/

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Surviving A Brain Injury

National Brain Injury Awareness Month
National Brain Injury Awareness Month (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

So, March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month (I just found this out yesterday).  Let’s add that to the seemingly endless list of “celebratory months of awareness.”  This one hits me at a personal level, however, because in 1996 I suffered a brain injury as a result of an overdose and almost died.

Now some people would say, “big freaking deal, you od’d!”  Well, the thing about it is that I did not want to wake up from an intentional overdose that I told no one about.  There was no letter, no teary-eyed phone calls.

I was twenty-three years old, frightened and disgusted.  I did not want to wake up.

But I did wake up.  I woke up and have been a different person since then.  I am not sure exactly what day I woke up as I have no recollection of any events immediately preceding my overdose, my hospital stay or my journey home.  I only know what my family tells me and then the snippets of flashbacks that float into my head from time to time.

My family told me it happened on July 19, 1996.  My 6-year-old daughter Sarah found my dead body.  911 was called and EMT’s worked on me for thirty minutes before they felt a pulse.  I was rushed to Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia and apparently was in a coma.  I don’t remember. Sometimes I think I remember, but then I realize that I remember what people have told me over the years, and in some warped sense those stories become twisted false memories.

I have a brain injury.  So at times I have issues with differentiating fact from fiction.  I have issues remembering things period.

When I overdosed (and died) I was not getting oxygen to my brain.  This affected the part of my brain that holds my short-term memory.  My long-term memory is intact, but my short-term memory is forever scarred.  If I can get information from my short-term to my long-term, I have it forever.

But that is the trick.  Getting from the short to the long.

I can’t remember:

  • people’s names.
  • directions.
  • what I read.
  • what people said.
  • grocery lists.
  • how I got where I am.
  • how to get home.
  • and tons of other crap that I forgot.

Now, this is par for the course for a lot of people.  But not for me.  It was never for me.  And now it is and some days I am fine and other days mortified because I feel like an ass.

I once wandered around the parking lot of the Willow Grove Mall for an hour because I could not find my car.

I once wandered around the floor of the Pep Boys Headquarters for almost an hour because I couldn’t find my cubicle.

I once drove around aimlessly for two hours because I got lost, stopped to ask for directions, and got lost again.

The list goes on and on, like I said.  But of course I forget all that stuff and I don’t remember anything unless it’s in my long-term memory or by association.

These days, I am a little better.  The doctors told me to do brain strengthening exercises like puzzles, reading, writing and stuff.  I write a lot and the other stuff I do, well, when I remember.

Do you know anyone that survived a brain injury?