First, a tangent: I gave myself a couple of sick days from writing because my whole family came down with the flu. By the way, whatever happened to the happier sick days of childhood? “Yay, I don’t have to go to school today!—and oh my gosh I suddenly have the energy to play with my toys…It’s like a miracle, mom…” Now, back to the actual subject of this blog post, in which our protagonist discovers a gaping hole in her armor…
One thing I may not have told you thus far is that every now and then, I do have memory problems. It took Jon and me a while to realize this crucial, but quiet truth. In fact, the doctors and nurses used to ask me all the time right after the surgery how my memory was. It seemed fine—great even. I specifically remember Jon saying “sharp as a tack” in response. It was true too. I’d be lying in bed with multiple drugs running through my system and someone would come and ask where I kept a certain casserole dish or the checkbook, and I’d know just where to direct them. I knew the finite details of our schedule, remembered minutiae about Eva’s napping habits, and could have told you what my last emails before the surgery were about. It all seemed intact.
Then one day, Jon asked me for details about something that happened a few weeks after surgery—something not immediately recent, but only a few weeks back at the time. I had no recollection of the event, or of any discussions about it. There have been a few other instances too. I’d like to tell you about them, but I can’t currently remember. In the end, what I do know is that I’m missing a few memories, and that the only thing filling their place is a sense of uncertainty. Have I forgotten these things because of the drugs I was on, or from the recent and acute trauma? Or did the Dr. accidentally suck out a part of my memory complex? I’ve always had a shoddy long-term memory, but usually anything recent is very clear. This experience overturned my very familiarity with the way my own head works.
I have this uneasy feeling that holes exist in my history that I just can’t access. It makes me feel vulnerable in a way I’ve never felt before in my whole life. Fragile, susceptible, over-exposed. And it is way too close to Alzheimer’s for comfort, which is one of the most frightening diseases in the history of mankind. The fact that I’ve waited so long to write about this (at least a month or more) should tell you just how uncomfortable I am with this development. I don’t particularly want to announce any chinks in my armor, but it has occurred to me that it is only making my life more difficult to not let people know. Besides, I have to recognize that to a certain extent, I am unreliable.
A few weeks ago I went to my Ward’s Young Women class as a show of support for the new presidency (I currently have a Stake calling as the YW Secretary). They asked me to make an announcement, which would usually be an easy task. Although I could remember the meeting I’d been at and some of the details, when I went rummaging around in my memory for more, I found only a big blank spot. Also, I looked at the wrong page in my calendar. What culminated was a ridiculously off announcement that probably did more harm than good. One of the ladies, who clearly had no idea what has been going on in my life, looked at me like I was a complete idiot. Unfortunately, I was acting like one. Worst YW Secretary ever. All I could do was apologize for my disorganization. (Yes, my disorganization is usually a problem, but is one that I manage to obfuscate because of my usually excellent short-term memory).
On the other hand, the times when other people know about my humbling disabilities are when things get much easier to deal with. For instance, on Saturday night Jon and I were having one of those oft-held discussions: “no, you said this… and it happened this way…” “what are you talking about? I never said that…” After only a few rounds, I had to stop and concede the point, saying, “Then again, I guess I’m not exactly the one to ask…” I hate losing an argument/discussion, but it was nice to just let it go and know that it was okay because I couldn’t do any better.
I have no idea when the Lord will stop humbling me, but may it happen soon. Losing a few memories is on its own a small thing, but the feelings of vulnerability that accompany it are devastating.