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
web site: caregivinglyyours.com
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