When you pick up the clothes you’ve just changed, with every intention of putting them into the laundry bag, but walk to the kitchen and throw them in the dustbin… you’ve got a problem, baby!
When you can’t remember if you had your morning dose of vitamins & meds, an hour or two after breakfast… honey you’ve got a problem!
When you sit to play Solitaire or Scrabble (on the computer) for a little while to pass the evening and realize your arm hurts, your vision blurs, and it’s 1.30 a.m or sometimes even 2.30 a.m…. it is a problem!
When you find telltale signs of social withdrawal… you talk to yourself and the walls listen… sweetie, go to the doctor!
When you find it hard to remember which regiment your brother is in… you worry and ask yourself… am I losing it?
When you grope for simple words but can’t get them past the tip of your tongue or because your mind goes blank and the inner panic makes it worse… it’s bad, it is trouble!
When you pause in mid-speech because you said something that wasn’t what you meant like “wheels” instead of wind and many such disassociations, it’s upsetting. You want to talk to someone about it. Someone who will understand, listen with a sympathetic ear and above all, is knowledgeable.
So you go to the only medical person you know and trust… your orthopedic surgeon. You tell him what’s happening and ask in a whisper, “Is it Alzheimer’s?”
You aren’t prepared for the loud burst of laughter. You did not crack a joke… or did you, your brow crinkles as you try to go over what you said just in case…
“I’m serious, doc,” you say louder, this time.
“Maam, you are still young for that (I was in my mid-fifties), besides, few Indians are afflicted with the disease. Don’t worry no one dies of Alzheimer’s, the people who look after them die,” he ends with another burst of mirth.
Then he notices the look in your eyes. It is telling him you don’t find it funny. It is saying that the statistics for Indians with Alzheimer’s is questionable. Your eyes want to know at what age the first signs of the ailment are detectable. Yes, you want to know if you could, at some future date, be a host to Mr. Alzheimer.
“You are stressed. It’s nothing else, take a break, go for a holiday; meet more people,” he says gently.
“You mean I’m not losing it?” you ask and there’s hope brimming in your voice.
“No, not at all,” he says in his rich baritone, “you’re not losing it, it’s just that you are not using it.”
He had a point. I smiled. Then my eyes met his and we both laughed.
I thanked him for his time and for listening, even though my problem had nothing to do with his area of orthopedics.
I moved to Chile, a few years later, met more people, involved myself with activities other than domestic ones and used my brain for more than just a game on the computer!
I’m just an absent-minded person at this point in time! I’ve learned to ‘live into’ the being alone status; to do exactly what the doctor told me to… and I’ve found a lot that helps me to “use it” rather than “lose it.”