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with Rod Moser, PA, PhD

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Short Term Memory

I have been meaning to blog about this subject for some time, but I keep forgetting. I am not sure if I wrote a blog post about this in past; maybe I did. My recent MRI showed some “white spots in the grey matter”, so I think I will blame my short-term memory issues on those mysterious spots.

I used to attribute my short-term memory on overload – just too many things on my mind simultaneously to remember all of them. In the clinic, I can juggle three or four different patients at the same time and remember them when it comes time to type notes into the electronic medical records. At home, it is a different story. I have always been a good at multi-tasking, but lately I have been dropping a few things. I suspect that my brain was a lot like my office before the make-over. Both seemed to require a thorough dusting and reorganization.

We have all walked out into the kitchen or garage for the express purpose of retrieving something, only to stand there like a fool, wondering what I was supposed to do. Loosing car keys is another problem that some people have, but fortunately, I do not loose my keys (anymore). After paying $150 for one of those smart keys, I am extra-careful. Incidentally, I did find the lost key a day after I bought a new one.

Yesterday, I was working at home trying to get my newly-remodeled office back in shape. I forgot to feed the dogs, even though they kept hanging around staring at me with hungry eyes. I didn’t feed the tropical fish or the chickens until it was dark outside. And I forgot to attend a lunch meeting at work, however – catered by my favorite sushi restaurant. My wife, who was working yesterday, called me after the lunch meeting, complaining that she was so full, she could bust. Nice.

I made myself an elaborate note today before I ran some errands. I almost forgot the note on the kitchen table, but I remembered after I was in the car. I went back in the house for a dozen eggs for the next neighbor in line (the chickens are laying about 10 eggs a day now), and saw the note lying there. Sometimes, just writing out a note is just enough to burn the memory, but there are usually a few things that I will forget when I am out and about anyway.

I stopped at the grocery store to buy coffee (we ran out and had to use instant coffee this morning). I spent $150 on other things, but I did buy the coffee – three pounds, along with an array of vegetables, tofu, and shrimp. I am going to try my hand at making Vietnamese Spring Rolls tonight; the ones with the sweet chili sauce. I have been a fan of ethnic foods since the 1970′s when I moved to multi-ethnic San Francisco. Before that, pizza was really the only ethnic food I had experienced. Now, if it is strange and bizarre, I will eat it. There are very few things that I will not try at least once. Hummm…I forgot what I was Blogging about. I must be hungry. Yeah, that’s it.

I have absolutely no problems with long-term memory, as demonstrated by my blog posts. I remember things in kindergarten like it happened yesterday. I even know my grandmother’s phone number and she died in 1965. And, I am proud to say that I remember just about every joke that I hear. I suspect my nursing home days will be one big stand-up routine as I entertain my home-mates.

My friend’s mother was over a hundred years old when her memory started playing tricks on her. She would watch a news story, fall asleep, and then wake up an hour later think she was a part of that story. She once told my friend that she was the oldest person ever to climb Mt. Rainier and be rescued by helicopter (that was the story she watched). At least my memory isn’t that bad, but then again, she was 4 years older than me at the time. When she fell asleep, even for a few minutes, her brain would advance one day forward. By her estimation, when she died, she was over six hundred years old.

My mother is about 88 years old and has dementia. My aunt is 92 and has dementia as well. Knowing that this may be genetic troubles me a bit. Both of them laugh a lot, so I guess if dementia and happiness go together in later life, I may not be as concerned. My only regret is that my mother has no idea who I am. My wife’s father lived to 92; nearly everything in his aging body fell apart except this brain. He was sharp and coherent up until his last breath.

I am only 58 years old. As long as I challenge and exercise my brain, keep writing, and stay busy, then I may be able to circumvent, or at least minimize dementia in my future. For the short-term issues, I will keep writing notes to myself and lock my car at least twice every morning (I never seem to remember if I did it the first time). I guess things could be worse…

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Posted by: Rod Moser, PA, PhD at 11:25 am

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