Tag Archives: memory

And…2021? What?

2 Jan

11:59 am

I remember when it was Y2K! Haha. Remember that? Y2K. Remember when that was a thing–I mean, almost as “big” of a thing as Covid? Ahh, to think that we were worried about that, when THIS was what was in store for us, 21 years later.

Jesus, 21 years?

Um, 21 years is sounding like a LONG time to me, at this very moment. Of course, lately, since my dad has been having dementia-related memory problems–and as we (meaning, my brothers and myself) learn how to talk to him in a way that is helpful and constructive–it’s got me thinking a lot about time, aging, and the reliability and (d)evolution of our memories as we get older. Sometimes I wonder if I have some form of early-onset dementia–organizing and cataloguing my thoughts just makes me feel irritated, and I definitely have had moments lately where I’m like, wait, why don’t I remember every gory detail anymore of what happened when?

It’s been saddening, shocking, and angering–yup; this feels like grief, as in, all of the sudden, you’re angry at the thing before you melt into tears (on the inside)–to watch my dad’s mind stop working. And, as a life scientist, I do wonder what is happening up there, with all those neurons. His thought patterns remind me a lot of someone in a blackout; he does not remember minute to minute, sometimes second to second, yet, he is present, conversing, and remembering other things. I noticed that his sense of sequential time is all mixed up, too; sometimes, he’ll recycle the same words or conversations that we have had more than once, months ago, as if he is still there, in that moment. Maybe he is? The other night–he was tired, and I’ve read that people with dementia “sun down” and get looser and more confused at nighttime–he kept saying the same thing, in response to anything I asked him; and, it was totally unrelated to anything. He has been fixated on a couple of things–getting out, and getting to the cordless phone at the nursing station so that he can call strangers to get him out–since Thanksgiving, when he was in the first ER/hospital. He was uber-combative then. Now, he seems to just have accepted what is, or, he has more awareness and/memory around why he is inside to begin with (I guess?).

It’s all really, really hard to understand, what’s going on in his brain. We are doing our best, trying to get him from point a to b to c–some days, I feel really deflated, like someone stunned me (the same feeling I had after the hurricanes ripped through our area and tore many a house down). Some days, like tonight, I rally, do what I am supposed to, and stay on track (tonight, I had to start looking at community-based residential facilities, which is just SO, so sad; with my dad, it’s definitely going to be like putting a rare creature who is used to running on the African savannah into a cage in a zoo). Fortunately, I have my brothers to lean on…

Otherwise, yeah, 2021 feels…a bit quiet so far. It was a busy holiday season, actually, since we did almost everything we usually do as well as I had this whole Dad situation to think about. We had a nice dinner at a friend’s place, went sailing on a catamaran (well, the captain motored us around!), and managed to get to three beaches (it’s been like, hurricane-windy here for the past week, which does not make for great beach days). Many days last week, I vowed to give up writing; most nights, I remembered how grateful I am to have a (writing) job to go back to come Monday (my contract was extended). I watched a movie and started watching “Long Strange Trip”–I can’t believe how young Jerry Garcia was when he died!

I managed to patch up a rough spot with a friend of mine, love more on our neighbor dog–we have a special connection since she was my Best Girl’s “angel”–and just lounge around with our new pup on my lap (he is quite the needy boy!). I’ve been running, too, but the hills are not easy on the knees and uh, I have some residual joint pain from the estrogen patch (sure of this; I have no clue why estrogen replacement therapy would cause your body to react as if its joints were arthritic, and I have honestly stopped wondering–see, is this dementia? I am just too tired to care anymore; I am not dying, so all is well, right?).

We actually masked up and went out for sushi on New Year’s Eve; it was quiet around town, and we were home and in our jammies by 10:30. LOL. I really Could Not Even with this year’s New Year’s Eve; I mean, everything was messed up, tossed around, twisted into a new shape during 2020, so, “celebrating” NYE took on a different meaning for me this year, as in, who really cares? Haha.

I haven’t felt much like dwelling on the literal lately, as I said–and so, it’s been hard to come up with some sort of “yearly word.” At first, I was like, God, I’m too tired to care. However, the more I journaled today, the more I felt something brewing…

This year might just be about finally letting go of my expectations, my past projects and goals and dreams–and setting new ones that I want to do, that fit, that feel right. And, if they stop feeling right, move on. It’s like, I don’t have the energy to hang onto my old self and old dreams anymore, you know? Maybe because my heart feels crushed by watching my dad lose his mind?

One of my fondest memories of my dad keeps coming back to this (and, it makes me want to cry every night, because I look up at the sky every night): because he was a trained merchant marine (a sailor), he knew the night sky very well. He knew a lot of things very well, and he could entertain people endlessly with his facts and figures. Anyway, whenever we’d be outside on a summer night on the farm, looking up at the stars–so many, so bright–he’d point and say, Look, that’s Sirius. There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad, Merak, Dubhe–all the stars in the Big Dipper. It was ridiculous because, well, most people never even heard of these stars let alone could point them out in the night sky.

Maybe that’s why I go out now, and look up; I want to remember him.

And, I want him to remember, too. I want him to look up, to see the night sky, to remember pointing up, There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad

Moving on from thinkin’ about drinkin’, or, life after 90 days

12 Jan

1:54 am

Yes, folks, I’m actually not thinking that much about drinking. Say WHAT? I’m just kind of grooving on living, drink-free, and not wanting what I “don’t have” or wishing that “I could have fun.” (In fact, when I look around now, and see people on Facebook, for instance, lugging shittons of booze on like, ski trips with their significant others, I have to wonder WHY…but that’s another post.) It really is a rational thought *process,* convincing your brain–or re-setting it back to NORMAL–that being drunk does not equate to having fun. Much of my process of quitting drinking has actually been quitting relating drunkenness with fun, and stopping equating chemically-induced numbness with calm.

The other day in AA, I heard some woman lamenting the fact that she was still a “lunatic” until she started doing the steps. Well, if it takes you 11 years (as it did in her case) to realize that being drunk is not, actually, all THAT much fun (compared to having real conversations and doing real things with your friends and family), then… I don’t know. I don’t want to hate on AA again/anymore, but my 90-day chip meeting will likely be one of my last. At least for now. Meetings make me cringe; I feel very uncomfortable inside “the rooms.” But, I’ve realized that some people simply need that “tough love,” that rigidity, that almost thoughtlessness of approach–deviation from the formula can pretty much guarantee relapse, I think, for some people who simply want to stop drinking but can’t immediately (or ever, let’s face it) process the motivation(s) behind getting shitfaced on the regular. So, yeah. Check ya later, AA.

Anyhoo… So, I’m working on an editing project on memory–everything from how memories are encoded in our brains to memory and trauma–and I came across something that made me pause: problems with substance abuse and addiction, some researchers say, are actually problems with memory. For instance, associations, i.e., memories, take over when you think about drinking, which makes it hard to untangle the the associated memories from the getting drunk memories. How can I not want to drink when I’m at the beach, for example, when that’s what I’ve always done? When that’s what’s been encoded in my brain–thinking about one makes me remember the other, and vice versa. It’s why drinking becomes an obsession, I guess, because EVERYTHING makes you think about drinking. Like, I can’t forget all those times I drank at the beach so it makes it hard for me to go there and not drink, or not want to drink…unless they find a way to either erase those memories or replace them with something new or different. Therefore, can I truly be relieved of the obsessive thoughts while at the beach sober if I don’t work at minimizing or repressing these old memories? Interesting to read about an entirely new paradigm (that’s the word they used in the article, so I had to, OK?) regarding addiction.

It’s been a pretty slow past few days, which has been, literally, wonderful! Lots of dog walking, coffee drinking (decaf!), and reading/editing. I went running yesterday, and it was better than the first time. I liken my legs right now to baby giraffe legs–when I try to stand on them, they crumple. (While cute, it’s rather pitiful.) I think things should even out once I get on a normal (read: non-vampire) schedule, reign in the sweets (especially Diet Coke), and continue to push my legs a little longer each day/every other day. ‘Tread lightly’ is my mantra, and don’t worry about how far or how fast (“run” and “running” should be put in quotes until further notice).

Thanks, all, for your encouraging comments to my 90-day post! I honestly could not have done it without your support. Rock on, 93 days!

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