Tag Archives: cog fog

The Perks Of Being A Goldfish

goldfishThere’s nothing much happening in our little cottage since I’ve been convalescing from my third course of Alemtuzumab, so I’ve mostly been Thinking, which is always a risky undertaking.

Uppermost in my mind is, well, my Mind. In other words, my Goldfish Brain.

This is best explained by my risible attempt at New & Experimental writing at Uni:

I had to ‘write a sketch  in which the gender of the narrator and/or characters is obscured or manipulated in some way’.

Really.

So I did what any pretentious peep with literary leanings would do and wrote a sketch using only titles from the top 50 bestseller list from a popular bookstore – sample line: ”It was always Personal, always about Us. Where My Heart Used to Beat, there is only Lamentation”. Counter-culture or what? And I even called it ‘Water & Stone’. Yup, I am that tragic.

Anyway, I polished it, posted it on our forum and promptly forgot about it. Which probably wasn’t a bad thing.

This got me Thinking. MS has taken a giant eraser and smudged out a whole part of my brain. At first this was pretty frightening, as you can imagine. Words failed me, jokes died, anecdotes withered in the middle and post-it notes bloomed all over the house.

Looking on the bright side however, I decided to write a list of all that was positive about this, and here it is, taken from my scribbles:

  • Supermarket home delivery is a joy, every single week. I completely forget what I’ve ordered, so when I unpack the bags I stare in wonder at the gluten-free pasta and think, ‘wow, I needed this! How fabulous’. Digging through the bags is exciting and just like Christmas. Especially when they pop in a free sample – ‘yay, a small pot of spinach-flavoured yoghurt, just what I wanted’.
  • I am the Best Ever Friend. I’m the friend who can not only keep secrets, but also promptly forgets them. Result.
  • Every day is a whole new experience. I wake up refreshed, having forgotten the traumas of yesterday. If I’m reminded, I’ll deal with it. If not, I enjoy my coffee.
  • I can’t argue any more. This may sound like a bad thing, but believe me, it’s an unexpected bonus. People will attempt to bring me into long-standing grievances/arguments/slights and I’m like, ‘oh, really? And when did that happen?’ They will then start talking really slowly in a very loud voice to me and try to explain. I forget.
  • I’m never bored; I gaze at my pile of books by my bed (just the books I want to read, how amazing), I admire my friend’s notes from Uni (was I actually at that lecture? Wonderful, let’s read the notes and enjoy it all over again). Hey, someone’s put more loo-roll in the bathroom and it definitely wasn’t The Teenager. How thoughtful.
  • Last but not least, I forget how much chocolate I have eaten.

Mind you, I’ll have to rein in this Goldfish Brain as I start back at work in a couple of days.

Apparently I’ve met with The Boss for coffee several times over the last week for a catch up and debriefing. If you remember what we talked about, could you send me some notes?

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Please Excuse My Brain, It Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing

memoryI was formally introduced to my brain after my very first MRI.

There it was, in all it’s lesioned glory, glowing brightly on the computer screen. I was entranced and tried to take in what the neurologist was telling me as he counted up the little blobs of white amidst the grey.

I used to like my brain and we got on quite well; it saw me through lots of adventures, exams and crises. And Trivial Pursuits. It could always be relied upon to make snap(ish)  decisions or mull over a myriad of options for any given situation.

Lamentably, it has decided to strike out on its own, making a bid for devolution and taking a lot of important bits with it. Now my short-term memory is atrocious. I repeat myself. I also talk about the old days, but that’s probably an age thing. I repeat myself.

I frequently apologise on behalf of my brain and it can become quite awkward. Say I’m standing in front of a huge cafe menu, chalk-boarded behind the increasingly-impatient barista. I am blank. I literally cannot think what to order. Likewise menus in restaurants, shampoos and conditioners in Boots, colours on paint charts and which wrapping paper to buy for Christmas (someone told me it was soon).

I forget the most basic facts so chatting with me can be a journey into charades. I can’t remember names, conversations or dates. I point to stuff, use my hands to describe things and say ‘aggggghhhhh, you know, that, that, um, thing with the spouty bit?’ ‘Oh, yeah, thanks, kettle.’

However, let’s look at the upsides. For one, I no longer brood on things. Drawn-out arguments are a thing of the past. I could have one on the Monday and bounce into work like Tigger on the Tuesday, all forgotten, unless I’ve blogged about it. Then I brood, meh.

But having a short-term memory means I re-experience wondrous things again and again. It’s almost as if every day is new. I get up in the morning and think, ‘wow, what a lovely day! Oh, great, I can have coffee! Wow! And the cat, isn’t she just gorgeous?’ Until, thwack, I veer into the bannister and it all comes rushing back.

That aside, I will continue to count my blessings. I equate it with a computer and how refreshing it can be to delete and send to the trash bin all that junk that’s been hanging around, and that’s got to be a good thing?

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Dim? Some.

Memory, what memoryI was with the boss one morning last week; we were driving to a warehouse to buy something or other for our latest project.

He pointed towards the humungous Tesco Extra on our left, saying, ‘it’s been refurbished, there’s a Costa there now too.’

‘Oh, um, great! Must check it out, but you know my heart lies with Ocado.’

We got the something or other from the warehouse, loaded the van up and drove away.

‘Hey, boss! Did’ya know that Tesco’s has had some kind of makeover. Someone told me. And Costa’s has opened. That one, over there.’

Silence.

Then, ‘are you winding me up?’

‘Nope, boss. Just know you love your Costa coffee with the caramel swirly thing.’

‘Yeeeeeees (very, very, slowly), but ten minutes ago I told you about it. You’re freaking me out.’

‘Oh.’

‘Your memory, honestly’ – then all I heard was the word ‘dim’.

‘Oi! I’m not dim. I won a medal once. For badminton.’

‘Noooooooooooo (very, very, slowly), I said you’re like a dimmer switch. Sometimes very bright but other times, you know, dimmer. More dim. No, not dim. Just not as bright. But not dim as such. You know what I mean.’

*sulks all the way to the meeting with the architect*

But, he had a point. My memory over the last six weeks has been atrocious. Embarrassingly so. I asked my mum, ‘I know I’m ancient now, but was your memory this bad when you were 41?’

Mums are a polite bunch, aren’t they? ‘Well, dear, we’re all different. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all find our unique place in the world. But yes, your memory is dire.’

The Teenager plays on this – ‘But you said, you said I could have a Dominos. Is your memory playing up again? Don’t forget you said we could get a dog. AND, remember that £20 I owe you? I’m so happy I paid you back’ (he didn’t. I know this for a fact). Nice try.

Anyway, on the one hand, it’s a great cop-out (pesky MS cog fog), but on the other, I am liable to be hoodwinked on a regular basis, plus I just can’t remember anything important. I have to write everything down, to the point that when I walk through my house, I’m accosted by a forest of post-it notes. Which I can’t remember writing. What does ‘T-hhhhhhh!! CJ R’ even mean?

And as for Costa Coffee. I haven’t been yet. Did I tell you they opened one in my local Tesco Extra?

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Older. Not Wiser.

older. not wiserI clung on as long as I possibly could.

On my birthday last week, I loudly proclaimed that, actually, actually, I wasn’t technically 41 until 8.04pm, so basked in the fading glow of my 40th year for most of the day.

I had a leisurely morning, a leisurely lunch with my mum and a leisurely evening with a friend. Very leisurely.

Anyway, after blowing out my candle (singular – I’m now too old to merit one per year) and making a desperate wish (nope, not telling), I scribbled a list of everything I would might achieve over the next twelve months, now I was of a Grand Old Age:

  • I will create a Capsule Wardrobe. A classic trench-coat, several well-cut pairs of trousers and a few silk blouses that hang just so. Plus some select pieces of discreet, yet classy jewellery and a couple of well-chosen scarves, which I would learn how to tie in many different ways, like all the French woman do.
  • Likewise, I would ditch the student wardrobe I’ve been cultivating for the last few decades. I would consign my ‘It’s Your Round’ t-shirt to the charity shop pile, along with my Gap hoodie, washed so many times, it’s faded from bright green to vomity-puce.
  • I will begin a proper skincare regime, with different creams for different parts and different times of the day. Day cream, night cream, afternoon cream, eye cream, neck cream, ear cream and hand cream. I would be slathered.
  • I will consider a National Trust membership, which will give me unlimited access to three thousand sites, ensuring a delightful day out every weekend for the next two hundred years. I will not go straight to the gift shop/ye olde cafe; I will instead join a guided tour and follow the held-aloft umbrella with all the other tourists. However, I will still buy a jar of honey/jam from the gift shop before leaving.
  • I will learn how to cook and love risotto. And a proper Sunday lunch, rather than going for a Carvery, along with a twenty-deep queue of other people. Who nick all the roasties before my turn. And steal all the gravy, tsk.
  • I will no longer hide the fact I highlight TV programmes I want to watch in the Radio Times, with my special fluorescent pen.
  • I may invest in a foot-spa. And one of those things that makes your bath ripple like a jacuzzi.

Yup, I have a plan. I already feel older than my years with this pesky MS – the cog fog, the pavement-watching, the dozing off in front of the telly. Should I embrace it?

Thinking about it, maybe I shouldn’t. I’ve just had a letter from the university I’ll be joining in September. A lovely invitation to Fresher’s Week. Really. Should I stay or should I go?

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Blood, Sweat And No Ideas

exam stressIn a little over two weeks, I’ll be sitting what I hope will be my final ever exam. A three hour written paper.

Having the attention span of a gnat is proving problematic though.

I’ve spent hours (days, weeks) creating the most fabulous study notes. Colour-coded, bullet-pointed, succinct. They really are quite lovely. I settle myself down, ready to commit some facts to memory. And that’s the problem. My memory has taken a long sabbatical and I’ve got no idea when it’s coming back.

I read a few study points and my brain is full. Maybe I’ll just rest my eyes for five minutes. An hour later, I wake up with a start, study notes still clutched in my hands. All hope of absorbing essential nuggets of knowledge by osmosis fades. I look over past exam papers with a growing sense of horror. What hope do I have of writing dazzling answers when I can’t even understand the questions?

I had such high hopes when I started the university course six years ago. I whizzed through the first four years, feeling smug when I achieved pretty decent essay and exam scores. This was part of my Plan – a new career path which would grow alongside The Teenager, so come graduation, I would be ready for the next stage, an MA. Then, when The Teenager reached 16, I would step in to a wonderful new job.

Thanks to MS, those dreams now lie in tatters, and my so-called career path has become overgrown and inaccessible. But, hey, I’ve never been one to give up that easily. I’ll do something completely different. Just not quite sure what yet. A non-stressful job that utilises all my talents? I’m thinking cake tester (nah, not enough chocolate in that one, I’ll try the other one, ta very much) or a flat shoe expert, where I can try out the very latest styles and give them a thumbs up or down and keep the ones I like.

In the meantime, exam day is fast approaching and my brain is melting under the pressure. I daydream about what life will be like after 1pm on October 9th. I will be free! I will ceremoniously burn all my study notes and raise a toast to the last six years. Despite everything, I will have made it through.

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