This is Your Brain on 49
I stood at the top of the driveway with Coach, smiling and waving to the second of two couples we were having over for dinner. “Ah shit,” I hissed to him, “what are their names?” But he didn’t know. The name-remembering and holiday-making and gift-purchasing duties had all been handed over to me many years ago. “Are you kidding?” he hissed back, “how am I supposed to know?” So, under intense pressure, I simultaneously learned the art of forcing people to introduce themselves and felt certain I was losing my mind.
Oh sure, these senior moments or brain farts or whatever you want to call them are normal. They can happen to anyone, even if you’re 23 and totally sober. Pregnancy makes you dumb, having little kids makes you dumber, and being anywhere over 45 makes you dumber still but in a way that makes others look at you sideways with tiny arched brows.
Add a healthy chunk of nutso to your gene pool, however, and suddenly forgetting your first-born’s name or why you just sprinted upstairs or grabbed a hammer is cause for a multitude of reactions, ranging from fatalistic acceptance to panic-induced wailing. I’ve screwed up so many things just by being scatter-brained and forgetful and just plain uninterested, that any of my new “moments” are not that noticeable to anyone but me. ..I don’t think. However, now I know for sure that my mother had some kind of early-onset and extremely aggressive dementia, I am taking extra note of these moments, but in a much more clinical way.
My closest loved ones are not to be trusted in this matter. They don’t know anything and have been laughing and pointing at me for decades! I have a lifetime of people trying to classify or label my way of thinking, patting me on the head, reading me my rights, asking “what-the-hell-are-you-doing?” and “what exactly is your plan?” to believe that they will know when I truly turn the corner to something that can’t be fixed.
So I have developed my own method to determine if my senior-moments are just by-products of my deep inability to pay attention, or if they are indeed signs of my imminent decline. It’s pretty simple actually: if I know I’m forgetting something, or using a word that isn’t correct but starts with the same letter, or looking for the phone that’s in my hand, then I’m not falling apart. That’s how my method works…if I can use it, I’m not crazy. It’s a beautiful system so don’t point out any of its flaws.
My next plan is to use all of the available Save Your Brain! apps, but only the ones that don’t involve math or geometry, because really…my brain didn’t need it then and sure doesn’t need it now. Then I will drink more tea, sleep more, laugh more, get on my yoga mat, and avoid situations where everyone doesn’t already know each other, and all reality TV.
I know we all have our DNA boogeyman – cancer, heart disease, dementia. I just found out who my personal boogeyman is and I don’t like him. But I figure as long as I remember what I’m fighting against, that means I’m still here, not there. And I really, really want to be here.