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Pros of Memory Loss

I’ve shared before that I have a lot of trouble with memory retention. I used to have a superb memory but after I started having seizures and headaches, my memory level dropped waaaaayyy down. Part of it is because of the seizures and part is because of the meds. I already know all this. Some days, this really bothers me. I feel like an old lady but because I’m NOT old, I’m not given the same grace from those around me.

Today though, I’d like to talk about the UPSIDE of having less memory. Believe it or not, there are several things I’ve just recently started to notice that are great side effects of NOT being able to remember things!

  1. I have become an expert in mnemonic devices. Don’t know what a mnemonic device is? It’s a memory device, usually a pattern of letters or numbers, that you associate with something else that helps you remember things. For instance, I could never remember the letters in my license plate. I knew they started with an H but the rest eluded me. Finally I came up with a mnemonic device for it. The letters are HNS. The was I remember it is He Never Stops. Which in my mind is short for He Never Stops Loving Us but I just realized it could also relate to people on the road. 🙂 Whatever way you go with a mnemonic device, it just has to be something that triggers YOUR brain! I have so many of them that people at work joke that I have one for everything!
  2. I can surprise myself. I don’t normally consider myself a funny person but sometimes I write funny little notes on instructions for other people and then months later I find them and get to laugh at myself! I have also started putting a short note inside books I’ve read this year that recap the book for me so if I pull it out again I can remember. Those will be great to read when I forget what I wrote! This year, I went to decorate for Christmas and found that I didn’t have any lights so I went and got some. Later, not only did I find the lights I bought at the end of last year, but some decorative lights that I’ve been meaning to buy for FOREVER! It’s great when you can surprise yourself because you’ve totally forgotten what you’ve done.
  3. I can reread books and re-watch shows. To be honest, I’d rather not have to reread books. There is a surplus of good books in the world and I always have too many on my hands to read. But the same cannot be said for TV shows. One of my favorite shows is The Great British Baking Show. A couple weeks ago, I went back and re-watched the first season, which I’ve already seen, just to get some baking inspiration. As all the bakers arrived, I suddenly realized I had NO CLUE who won that season. So I kept watching. People, I got all the way to the final on a show I’ve already watched and still didn’t know who was going to win! You might think this is really sad, but for me, I just enjoyed watching a show again that I really love.

And so while some days I stand and stare blankly at a customer who comes in every day, desperately trying to remember their name; other days I laugh at a hilarious password I created, use a mnemonic device to remember the differences between S and C corporations, and go home to watch a show I’ve blissfully forgotten. God has shown abounding grace towards me in this journey and I’m so thankful for that!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2019 in epilepsy

 

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Birthday Cookies

Today is my birthday. I woke up this morning at 5am with an unusually bad headache. Like really splitting to be honest. I did not want to be awake and I did not want it to be my birthday. I certainly did not want to get on stage at church this morning for the ministry minute I was scheduled for and excitedly explain how Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes work.

I had made a point of telling Natalie that I didn’t want a point made of my birthday. Honestly it’s been a stressful month. Coming off your parent’s insurance when your work’s insurance doesn’t kick in for a few months is hard and there are a lot of details to figure out. I wasn’t happy about the day and in fact, had pretty much forgotten my birthday was coming up.

But I don’t like to be grumpy when other people are trying to celebrate so when my Sunday School class sang me Happy Birthday, I smiled and thanked them. And I did the same for every sweet person that wished me well. And I successfully got my ministry minute pulled together (with some awesome volunteers!) and smiled the whole time.

I got home from church and tried to give my attitude a stern talking-to, but the screaming pain in my head just made me lay on the couch, wishing I could enjoy the beautiful day outside.

And then suddenly, I got the urge to bake some cookies. I know that sounds weird but I haven’t baked anything for no reason in a while and I (almost in a daze) got up and started getting out the ingredients. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, when the dough was finished and I was getting down my cookie sheets, that I saw what had happened.

I looked down at the dough and realized I had just made the cookies from memory. My memory. I had remembered. This is my Dad’s family recipe and I’ve had it memorized since I was at least 10 but the last time I tried to make them, I had to call my Mom because I couldn’t remember it. And I hadn’t made them since.

Yeah, I know. It probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. But it was to me. And I was so thankful that I burst out crying like a little baby.

This has been a hard year. Harder than most people know. And as I sit here typing, I know my problems aren’t all gone (still have a whooper of a headache.) But I am thankful for what God has taught me and for the fact that he is continuing to lovingly teach me.

Even if it’s with cookies.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2018 in encouragment

 

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Unworthy

One of my favorite ice-breaker questions is, “What is your very first memory? The first thing you can remember from your childhood?” This is a great conversation starter and you really can learn a lot about a person when you ask it. My very first memory is actually being potty-trained. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s true. I remember because when I would go to the bathroom, I would get sprinkles as a reward and I remember licking them off my hand and the colors would stay on my hand. And I didn’t like the round sprinkles as much because they would get stuck in the cracks of my fingers. Isn’t it crazy how vivid that is?? And it’s not from hearing people tell me the story because when I told my family this last Christmas, none of them remembered.

Seriously, think about it: what is your first memory? You might be surprised what you remember. And ask others- it’s always fun to see what friends remember.

So what’s with the sudden interest in memory? I had a virtual appointment with my doctor from Cleveland last week and I explained to her the memory issues I was having. She confirmed that it is a really common complaint with those that have epilepsy and it could just be from the epilepsy itself but it’s also a side effect of my meds. Because I’m finally seizure free, we aren’t willing to change up any medication so I’m kind of stuck there. I asked if anything could be done because I’m losing some long term memories but mostly having trouble with everything short term. Her answer was to keep notes and lists. -_-

One of the things I’ve really noticed me starting to forget that’s bugged me the most is Bible stories. I mean, seriously, these are stories I’ve heard and read since I was born and I can’t remember them! So I decided I needed to do an overview of the Bible. Some friends and I are currently reading through the Bible in 90 days. It’s a lot of reading a day but it’s totally worth it. We’re doing it through the Bible app and we can post a note each day on something God has taught us and that way we are learning from each other too. It’s really been a blessing so far.

Something that struck me was a verse in Genesis. Jacob was about to meet Esau and he was afraid of what Esau might do to him so he’s praying to the Lord. And part of his prayer says:

“And Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, “Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.'” Gen. 32:9-10

So on days when I get frustrated because I can’t remember things, or I feel exhausted from the meds, I WROTE THIS VERSE DOWN so I can remember it. Because I am not worthy of ANY of God’s love and faithfulness that he has shown me either. And I don’t want to forget that.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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The Art of Being an Old Lady

I love old people. I mean, I pretty much have to, considering the age my Dad is getting to be. Ha! I can’t wait till he reads this!

But seriously, old people are the cutest. Plus, they have a huge advantage over most of the population. Let me explain. Have you ever noticed that old people can pretty much say whatever they want (which is sometimes what everyone is thinking but doesn’t think it’s socially acceptable to say) and they get away with it?? For example, an old person that you may never have met can (and will) outright ask your relationship status in front of a group of people AND proceed to give you all sorts of advice OR set you up with a family member of theirs. Your initial thought will probably be that it’s not really any of their business but then something will click in the back of your head and whether consciously or not, your brain will tell you, “Oh don’t worry about it; it’s an old person and they can say whatever they want.”

What??! Why? And how do I get that status?? I can’t wait to be old. I’m sneakily storing up all sorts of embarrassing things to say and do- does anyone know the official “old” age?? I want to be extra prepared when I reach it.

I’ve been thinking about old people recently because I’ve been feeling old (but without the perks because I don’t think I’ve reached that magical age yet.) I’ve been tired a lot but that’s not what makes me feel old. I really feel like I’m losing my memory and it’s actually pretty sad for me. If you ask anyone, I used to have the best memory in the world. At my old job, I remembered everything. From long and strange passwords, to people’s names and faces, to things that I never should have known but somehow it got stuck in my head. People were always asking me if I knew such and such or if I knew where something of theirs was, even though there was no way I should know. And most times, I did.

But not now. A few weeks ago at work, I was learning how to make all the food for the hot lunch we offer. I had about 9 pans in the oven at once so it was a lot of multi-tasking. At one point, the lady teaching me had a pan of meat and I watched as she put a little bit of water in the bottom and then she was showing me how to put the sauce on the meat. By the time she had finished, I looked in the pan and said, “Now did you put water in there or is that just grease from the meat?” She looked at me kind of funny and that’s when I realized I had literally watched her put that water in less than 2 minutes before.

I’ve found that now I have to keep track of things a lot more whereas before I could just rely on my memory for everything. For instance, I rarely used to put things on my calendar because I just always remembered my schedule. NOPE. Doesn’t work that way now. EVERYTHING must go in my phone because I can’t trust my memory. I used to know the birthdays of my family members AND all the kids I babysat and now I have to sit and calculate my Mom and Dad’s ages (good thing I still remember what years they were born!) I used to keep my shopping list in my memory- bahahahahaha! That seems like a joke. I could be getting 2 things from the store and I would still need to put them in my phone to remember them.

Do you know how frustrating and sad this is?? I guess I didn’t really think that the memory loss part of epilepsy would happen to me. What I mean to say is, I pretty much FORGOT about it! I have so much more respect and patience for old people now! You need to ask me the same question 3 times because you can’t remember? You go right ahead! At the same time, once again, people expect that from an old person and they give a little bit of extra grace. But they don’t expect it from me. I started to notice how bad it was when my best friend would call me at night and ask how my day was, and I really couldn’t remember what I had done. So I would give a general answer and when she wanted specifics, I would have to really really think. It’s like my brain used to be a nice filing system and someone has gone in and dumped out all the folders and now I have to sift through them to find what I’m looking for.

So if you ask me how my week has been and I look confused and like I’m searching for an answer, I probably am. I’m trying to remember, literally, what happened this week.

Please give some patience while I try to figure it out.

And maybe a hint or two would be nice.

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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