46 and Fogged

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Lately I’ve been losing my mind. It’s been a gradual process, but one I can’t deny anymore.

Take yesterday. I was in the middle of a full-blown house-cleaning frenzy when I glanced at the clock. It said 12:30. I felt a flutter at the back of my mind, like I was forgetting something important. I scrunched up my eyebrows (because I think better that way) and looked at the clock again. 12:31. My brain fluttered again. I turned off the vacuum and stared. Then it hit me. I had forgotten to pick up our youngest son from school.

There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you have forgotten your child. My stomach did a somersault, and I felt the weight of shame settle on me. Then I exploded into action. Dropping the vacuum hose, I descended the stairs like an avalanche of flailing middle-aged arms and legs (narrowly avoiding breaking one of them) and bounded down the hallway.

It was an early release day which meant that school let out 2 hours early. And in spite of the fact that my partner and my son had reminded me just that morning, it had still slipped my mind. The bell had rung 10 minutes ago. Now, our youngest son is not exactly a small child anymore. He’s fourteen, and not likely to be permanently damaged if I was a little late, but in my panic, I pictured him standing out in front of the school all alone, forlorn and forgotten, a sad little boy whose other-mom had abandoned him.

I snatched my keys and wallet from the kitchen table and dashed for the front door, sliding the last few feet – which really shouldn’t be possible in sneakers. I looked down. I wasn’t wearing my sneakers. I was wearing socks which of course explained the whole sliding down the tiled hallway thing. I quickly took stock of myself so as to ascertain if there were other problems I might want to correct before I went out in public. I was wearing ratty jeans and a bleach-stained t-shirt with no bra. I hadn’t yet showered. It would be generous to describe my hair as “tousled.”

Scrambling back up the stairs, I tripped over the vacuum cord, located shoes and a sweatshirt, tripped over the cord again, and lunged back down the stairs, wrestled open the front door, slammed it behind me, and ran for the car.

I was 25 minutes late. My son was not outside alone shivering in the chill as I imagined. He was standing in the sun, smiling, and talking with a friend. There was still a short car line and a surprising number of children still there. He smiled and waved when he saw me. I hugged him in front of his friends. Then I stopped at a gas station on the way home and bought him a soda and beef jerky.

“You should be late more often,” he said.

No, I really shouldn’t, I thought. The school is about 6 miles from our house. There are many traffic lights and the highest speed limit is 45, but I still made it there in about 12 minutes. My reflexes are getting to slow to drive like that. (And since I know you’re reading this, Mom, that was a joke.)

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My stuttering memory is no joke, though. I’ve always been a little absent-minded, but lately I’ve been a complete space cadet. My short-term memory is sputtering out like a neglected campfire. I feel like the forgetful little fish in Finding Nemo. (My favorite character until I became her.)

Lately, I have to proofread everything I write 14 times lately to avoid embarrassing myself by using the wrong words (like “half” instead of “have”). I mix up words when I’m talking, too, and often don’t realize until someone tells me. Like this typical exchange between my partner and me:

B:  “We used to live in Asheville, honey, not Austin.”

me:  “I know where we lived! You know I meant Austin.”

B:  “You mean Asheville?”

me:  “Shit.”

She’s really very patient, don’t you think?

And that’s not all. I have spent frantic minutes searching for my car keys only to discover them in my hand. My partner can text me to ask me to take some chicken out of the freezer to defrost for dinner, and if I don’t get up and do it right that minute, I will forget. I know it and she knows it. (That’s why she texts me again in five minutes. Did you take the chicken out of the freezer?) The other day, I almost ran out of gas because I forgot I was on empty. (Yes, I know the gas gauge was right in front of me. That’s kind of the point.)

As I’ve waded deeper into my forties, I’ve read more than a few articles on women’s health, and I know all the symptoms of my age.  But for some reason, I never really made the obvious connection with my mushrooming absent-mindedness. I just always thought I must be stressed or distracted, and then I jumped right to early onset Alzheimer’s in my imagination.

But not to worry. It’s just menopause. Yay. I’m not losing my mind. I’m just going to feel like it for the next few years.

 

note: Thanks to Mittens of Mittens and Boots and her excellent blog post on early menopause for the inspiration to write this and for cluing me in to the term “brain fog” which I just realized, I didn’t actually use except in the title, sort of. You can read her post at:

http://mittensandboots.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/mittens-menopause-forget-about-it/#comments

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24 Comments

  1. I don’t have kids to forget, but,God, I can relate. I’m 50 and forgetting everything–keys, words, names. It’s sad. Actually, it’s pathetic. Oh well–surely this fog will eventually lift, right?
    Hope you all are enjoying a wonderful weekend.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply
    • From what I read, it does lift. (I certainly hope so! Feeling particularly foggy today. Trying to think clearly is like wading in molassess.) I did have a wonderful weekend!
      Thanks, Kathy.
      Tori

      Reply
  2. I’m foggy and only in my later 30’s. Always told people years ago, if it’s age related I’ll be hurt.

    Reply
    • I think it varies for each of us. And there are a lot of variables that can contribute. But the good news it, it should pass.

      Reply
  3. Sounds like you were preoccupied as so many of us are. Just today I left the tub running, started watching tv, and nearly forgot about the tub!

    Reply
  4. caf600

     /  April 28, 2012

    Hilarious visualizing your race through the house… I actually got all the way to the car once before realizing that the ground felt funny under my feet. Then I discovered I was still wearing my slippers!

    Reply
  5. Funny! I think I’ll have to write about forgetfulness at some point, too. And I’ve got to have that t-shirt!!!

    Reply
  6. This is my mum to a tee too!!!! You definitely aren’t alone, i’ll try and ensure i forward this on to her – although as i have her memory i may forget! Great post 🙂

    Reply
  7. I dread the day I show up at school in my slippers. I know it’s coming. I had no idea brain fog comes with menopause. Something else to eagerly await. Yay. Thanks for the heads-up! Knowing me, I’ll be self-diagnosing online and sure I have several horrible diseases, so this is good to know.

    Reply
    • I’d seen references to “possible” brain fog in articles about menopause but it didn’t have much meaning for me until the last year or so. I’ve always been so absent-minded, I figured, How would I know? Now I know. There was a real change. I just read a study that “confirms” what women have apparently reported for a long time and posted on FIME’s Facebook page if you’re interested.

      Reply
  8. Brain fog is something that Ive had in my life for a while now, courtesy of MS. You are now telling me that it will get worse with menopause as well? Wonderful. Something to look forward to, eh? At least senility won’t come as a total surprise to me. I’m aiming for “pleasantly demented” on my medical chart.

    Reply
    • Heheh. “Pleasantly demented” sounds kind of lovely really. How do you manage? Do you write yourself notes? I find myself doing that more and more.

      Reply
      • I keep a notebook at work – cause I know I will forget things that I dont write down. At home I write things on the calendar. Truthfully, there are a lot of things I am happy to forget to do as well. It works out great in the end.

  9. Loved your look at trying to keep daily adventures straight in our minds-you’re right “momentarly” forgetting something about the kids-no matter how old, makes you feel like the worst of humans…Good you can laugh about it in the end.

    Reply
  10. It’s not funny when brain fog is a real part of your life. Here’s what helped me. First, admit there’s a problem and stop blowing it off. Slow down. Make lists and put up Post-it notes where you’ll see them as reminders. Do what you did with the chicken–take care of things you need to do immediately. Slow down.

    Reply
    • I’ve been extremely absent-minded most of my life. It’s more of an attention problem than a memory issue and not the same thing as the memory problems I’ve been having lately, but the same strategies seem to work. I’ve kept do-lists and calendars for years now. I just have to be a little more careful and detailed about it now. And I have a dry erase board on the fridge for writing myself notes. Works really well as long as I actualy write things on it.

      Reply
  11. A whole lot of resonance for me, I haven’t quite adjusted to the new reality yet of writing things down….. could it be menopause and denial?. And I have looked for sunglasses whilst they have been on the top of my head. You made me laugh today.

    Reply
  12. I’m still adjusting myself. And I’m so glad you got a giggle from this. Thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  13. I understand where you’re coming from here. Where’d I leave my glasses? Oh, yeah, on the end of my nose! Fun post.

    Reply

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