It has begun. I’m told the process can enter and take over almost overnight…or, it will take its time, slowly eroding away every functioning component of your brain. The topic: dementia. I chose it because it has moved up in ranking on my paranoia scale. I do believe dementia is beginning to infiltrate my fortress, setting up shop in little dark pockets in my mind. I am not a doctor and this is self-diagnosis so I suppose it is unreliable. Maybe I just have the mumps.
It starts with the basics. Lately, little things are happening to me all the time, like memory loss. I forget names, events, places I’ve been and activities I’ve done. True, you say everybody does that, but this is different because it’s more penetrating and prevalent. It’s no longer a trivia contest with prizes for those who can conjure up the most obscure. Nope, it’s the kind of memory loss where large blanks take over the space in your brain where it previously stored important data like the date of your wedding anniversary or the combination to your high school locker.
There are other failures mechanical in nature. I’ve had a check returned to me because the amount I wrote out in longhand did not match the amount entered in digital form. But it wasn’t simply a matter that the amounts disagreed. What was startling was that the amount in longhand was jibberish. It represented no number at all. I must have been in a stupor when I wrote it. In fact, come to think of it, my handwriting has changed lately. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like my usual scribe, so much so that I may not even be able to read it. See, dementia!
I agree, these are all little signs that appear innocent and unthreatening, even humorous. But these are slowly beginning to multiply. Forgetting names, appointments or what day of the week it is are common symptoms. The second phase features more tangible evidence, things like doors left unlocked when you leave the house or finding yourself roaming the parking lot attempting to locate your car because you have absolutely no idea where you parked it. Then finally, the hardcore situations begin to display unwelcomed testimonials that confirm the diagnosis. These include things like failure to recognize loved ones, believing you are living in another time or place, or having conversations with the voices you hear. All these phases are common to a very natural occurrence many people suffer with in their later years. It is called dementia. Stop by any nursing home and you will see it firsthand.
My mother showed signs of her wiring being withered away when she was in her 70s. Hey, guess how old I am!! Anyway, we were at a restaurant one night years ago, Rosemarie, my mother and me. I noticed Mom’s collar was messed up and I reached over to straighten it out. It was then that I realized it was messed up because it was the collar on the blouse underneath the second blouse she was wearing. But Mom always matched and it only followed that she was wearing two skirts too. It was then that I had to face reality—mom was a double dresser. When I asked her if she noticed she was wearing two sets of clothes she just sort of smiled at me, a little embarrassed. She looked like a kid caught doing something wrong. I just giggled and said “silly you.”
Well, the bad news is, that incident shows that dementia runs in the family. The good news is–today at least–I am wearing only one layer of clothes.