Lately I find myself wondering whether my multiple sclerosis has affected my … uh, what’s the word I’m searching for? Memory! That’s it.
As I advance toward my mid-50s, I have plenty of opportunity to question whether my memory lapses are a normal sign of aging or a nefarious symptom of MS. I had extra time to ponder this situation last week while I was visiting my 87-year-old mother.
Ma is, knock on wood, in terrific physical and mental condition. She still lives in the house I grew up in and maintains the place, and her affairs, on her own. But she expressed frustration about the number of times she couldn’t remember what she had been about to tell me. She had some trouble keeping track of her house keys, and she spent the better part of a day trying to remember a certain word that figured in an anecdote from her childhood that she was trying to share with me.
It all seemed perfectly normal to me, and eventually she remembered everything she wanted to tell me and found her keys. But I understood her concern. It’s worrisome to think about losing your grip on your memory and your memories, and any sign that your grip is slipping can be scary.
In the years since I was diagnosed, I have often questioned whether my memory glitches are MS-related. My husband, who has known me since I was a teenager, is reassuring, in his own way. He reminds me I’ve always had a terrible memory, so I shouldn’t worry about it.
I think he’s right. After all, I’ve always kept a journal and taken lots of photos because I have always known I can’t count on my brain to preserve my memories.
But every so often I worry that MS damage has reduced my ability to remember things. And worrying certainly isn’t going to improve my memory. If things get much worse, of course, I’ll check with my doctor. But for now I think my inability to remember, say, the name of my second-grade teacher, or the current location of my eyeglasses, is probably just a normal part of growing older.
Because, really, who cares what my second-grade teacher’s name was? And as for my glasses, after an exhaustive search of the house, I generally find them – perched right on top of my head.
P.S.: My teacher’s name just popped into my head! She was Mrs. Shirley, and she had very fair skin, and one day she came to school with a stain of iodine on her finger to disinfect a cut. Take that, MS brain!