Friday, November 11, 2011

We are … what we remember

Caregiving and Multiple Sclerosis can bump into semantic walls. Short term memory loss, cog fog, or dementia may be just words to some, but to others - them’s fightin’ words.

Yet MS symptoms can affect intellectual and social abilities. Sometimes this is easier to demonstrate as a caregiver through a thread of current events.

Patti surprised me Tuesday evening when I picked her up for an outing asking me about the Penn State scandal which I had read to her about on Monday. I try to make the time to read newspapers to her and ask her questions about the stories as an ongoing informal cognitive rehabilitation.

She never has recall over a day anymore, I was stunned. Yet before beginning a victory dance I realized that Patti is a Penn State alum and both long term and short term memory must be coming together in some kind of cognitive cauldron here.

Additionally ‘we’ had attended several football games together at Penn State's Beaver Stadium in the distant past. I am a U of Maryland alum and our respective universities had a football rivalry.

As a visitor I had always found Penn State a world unto itself. When 100,000+ people begin shouting in sync their signature shout and response cheer “We are … Penn State” it’s eerie.

Intuitively, now in 2011, I experimented with talk radio while driving. Needless to say the topic was the Penn State scandal.

Patti was so involved with the program I was captivated. Not only was she following it but remembering previous callers and periodically verbalizing her own two bits. Most impressive to me was her focus on the victims not the fall out. It was frustrating to see flashes of the person that was, yet discover she could not tell me what she had just had for dinner or where we were going.

Could this cauldron of long and short term memories keep breaking through? Picking her up after a 48 hr gap, Patti remembered nothing about it. It was all new to her.

We are … what we remember.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
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  1. That was fascinating, Patrick, with her memory and recall for that period of time. It must have made an impact on her from being part of Penn State.

    What a sad state of affairs there I have to say. My heart would be for the victims too.

    Hubby's mother with her memory loss tends to do so much more better on events from the past than what just happened a few minutes or days ago too. For all, memory loss has got to be so hard to deal with!

    In the meantime, totally off subject, I am enjoying typing 11/11/11/ today :)


  2. A touch of the fount of the incredible. ~Mary

  3. Interesting observations. Brains are very strange things!

  4. My brother has an amazing memory about football games in the past. However, he can't tell you what he ate for breakfast. I know what a struggle it is for him.

  5. Cognitive brain stuff is so puzzling to me...some days I have a sharp memory then others are ???
    So happy that Patti has some memory coming back...I hope it continues!

  6. The whole cognitive / memory symptoms of MS are beyond baffling to me as a caregiver - unfortunately the one person who can offer insight forgets.


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