Log in

No account? Create an account
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-02-10 05:31
Subject: [cancer|personal] Brain, brain, what is brain?
Security: Public
Tags:books, cancer, health, personal, sunspin, writing
I'm not as together as I'd like to think. Two recently mailed items of late have suffered from insufficient postage, a third returned because I'd put some random address on it rather than that intended. Yesterday I managed to lose my eyeglasses, a moderate crisis of rather expensive proportions in the resolution. Lately the anomia seems to have been on the uptick, though possibly I only have noticed this because I've been deep in writing Sunspin. Also, the slightly higher order memory errors, like confusing the Web comics Questionable Content and Something Positive in conversation.

I never used to make such mistakes. Or at least very rarely. Now, in the past week or so, there has been a rash of them. This worries me.

Maybe it's not lingering chemo side effects. Maybe these are middle aged moments. As one of my doctors said to me a while back, much of what I've been grumbling about is part of aging. Apparently I'm just lucky enough to have specific, catastrophic events to associate with the transitions.

Man, I hate this stuff. My brain used to be a finely-honed precision machine. Now it's finally a moaning imprecise bean.

Cancer sucks. So does getting older.

Post A Comment | 21 Comments | | Flag | Link

Kenneth Mark Hoover
User: kmarkhoover
Date: 2011-02-10 13:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've noticed the same thing about myself over the years. I'm afraid it's just part of getting older and as the little mental errors tick up in frequency we notice them more and more.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: autopope
Date: 2011-02-10 13:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm there too: I know exactly what that feels like.

In my case, I'm trying a two month holiday from the simvastatin, as statins are implicated in memory loss (and it's not critical to short-term management of hypertension). I'll be very relieved if it turns out my senior moments were a medication side-effect, but I'm not betting on it.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: twinkelbelpeach
Date: 2011-02-10 13:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
These do sound like middle aged moments. But I understand you can't help but worry. My father had Alzheimers and every time I can't remember something I think "It's a sign!"
Reply | Thread | Link

User: anton_p_nym
Date: 2011-02-10 13:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Getting older sucks, but it beats the alternative.

-- Steve's finding himself more prone to "senior moments" than he was in his youth, without anything to blame save for the extra decades past.
Reply | Thread | Link

zxhrue: nuisance
User: zxhrue
Date: 2011-02-10 14:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

we're of an age. more and more often, especially of late, I find myself falling back on the excuse that part of my brain is temporarily off-line.
Reply | Thread | Link

Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-02-10 14:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In my 30s, I would routinely stun students by reeling off the full title, author, journal, journal number, year and (where relevant) quarter, and page numbers of articles they might find useful.
I can't do that any more, and it's not just lack of practice. I am just older. I forget words, things, places, names. I have adopted, indeed, an all-purpose word to use when the right one eludes me ('wombat', as it happens). The beloved laughs at me. Age is so frustrating sometimes.
Reply | Thread | Link

Mary Dell
User: marydell
Date: 2011-02-10 14:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would peg those as signs of depression, actually, or grief. YMMV, obviously. But you've been through an awful lot of emotional stuff recently, and despite Sunspin going so well on your brain's front burner, the back burners may be boiling over a bit with the other stuff, and interfering with more routine things.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: oaksylph
Date: 2011-02-10 16:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Some of it could be age, but seriously, Jay, stress does bad things, and smart people, especially smart, highly engaged, highly introspective people, notice. Long-term or high stress levels disrupt the recording of short-term memory and the transfer of short- to long-term, flush your system with cortisol, and push even normally well-balanced people into behaviors that seem self-protective to the point of being problematic (such as emotional numbness and hyperfocus to the point of excluding or avoiding detail).

Try oxytocin. You naturally produce it when you are feeling trusting, comfortable, and content, and it pushes back the cortisol wave. Hugging! It's good for your brain.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link

User: joycemocha
Date: 2011-02-10 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's age. But you know, it beats the alternative.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: madrobins
Date: 2011-02-10 15:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hate the memory-loss thing. Hate it. I also think that, because I am a compulsive multi-tasker, I make more mistakes these days because my ability to juggle five things at once has frayed (and I'm not yet willing to cut the juggling to three things at once, or two).

You're lucky you're not afflicted by the estrogen cha-cha; I was told, some years ago, that women going through menopause lose nouns, specifically. My question (which no one has answered yet) is: do I get the nouns back on the other side of this process? If it were just a matter of needing the spatula but saying "hand me the...the...the thing for flipping pancakes" it would be merely annoying. But nouns are my stock in trade, dammit.

Aging sucks, but as Chevalier said, consider the alternative.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: barbhendee
Date: 2011-02-10 15:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Ink Bottle
Oh, sweetie, JC loses his reading glasses about once a week. I don't even want to think about the money we've spent replacing reading glasses.

He loses his car keys on a regular basis too. I bought him a key chain with a little button that reads, "I found my keys. Now where the hell is my car?"

I think for many us, this is pretty normal--especially abnormally smart people.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: irismoonlight
Date: 2011-02-10 16:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Grief and stress will do the same thing. I did things like that for a year after my mom died. You've had a pretty durn full year without a lot of time to process.

But, yes. As my 91-year-old aunt says, getting old is not for sissies.
Reply | Thread | Link

Fluttering Things: nuisance
User: moxie_raqs
Date: 2011-02-10 17:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm going to echo oaksylph & irismoonlight here. You've recently experienced a loss, and grief can impede aspects of memory, even if you're pretty together. About thirteen years ago, my dad experienced a similar loss and his memory tanked for a good 6-12 months. I'd tell him I was going to the store to get milk and he'd ask me if I could pick up milk when I was there. It was as if nothing stuck. It was maddening for both of us but he bounced back.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: polydad
Date: 2011-02-10 17:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*No one* is together as they'd like to think.

Yeah, you're probably slipping a bit (can't confirm for certain; I'm not there). So am I, so is anybody over about 45. And, sooner or later, we all die, and that's okay, too. I don't plan on checking out this week, and I'd take it kindly if you didn't either, and I rather doubt you will.

The doc you quote does have a bit of wisdom about him, and if your catastrophic events have been so thoughtful as to arrange themselves as convenient way-markers for you, might as well make use of 'em -- with no need to attribute causality to the fact.

You're loved. Deal with it.


Joel. Who likes the available alternatives to growing older rather less than the thing itself.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: keikaimalu
Date: 2011-02-10 18:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I hate that my brain is no longer the sharp machine I used to be able to depend on in my youth.

But when I get stuck in that misery, I remind myself that overall, my life is far better now than it was when I was in my 20s. In writing, I may struggle to find le mot just, in ways that astonish and frighten me, but my overall storytelling skills have matured and broadened considerably, more than enough to make up for the rather noticeable decline.

I don't like what I'm losing, but I can still appreciate what I've gained -- and am still gaining.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: maurinestarkey
Date: 2011-02-10 18:56 (UTC)
Subject: Forgetting,
I so understand you feelings. Stress/age is more the problem than any insidious disease. Maria Shriver's Alzheimer's project is good to watch. It's available at some libraries. I'm not suggesting you have Alzheimer's, but the show is a wake up call to taking better care of ourselves. It clears up a lot of the myth and mystery surrounding the disease.
Reply | Thread | Link

Jennifer Brozek
User: jennifer_brozek
Date: 2011-02-10 19:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have this with my memory. I used to have an almost eiditic memory. I never forgot a name, a face, an event and I could repeat conversations back verbatim. These days, I'm lucky if I know where my keys are and, at conventions, I've given up trying to guess people's names and just start out the conversation with, "Tell me your name again? I have a bad memory for names."

I would say you have no idea how much this pisses me off but I think you do.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: oaksylph
Date: 2011-02-10 20:39 (UTC)
Subject: Prescription for Memory
Very Helpful Earth Witch, a/k/a my mom, says:

"My mother could remember the lyrics to thousands of songs until the end of her last illness. She used to say that ginseng, potatoes, spinach, and oysters were the secret to her memory. I looked them up. Oysters - and cheese - have B12, which helps maintain the nervous system and bone marrow. Spinach is high in iron, and ginseng aids in its circulation (and tastes good in tomato sauce). Potatoes contain thiamine. Thiamine deficiency causes memory loss."

(She also announced that I am a Water Witch and that's why I thought of hugging first. Snerk.)
Reply | Thread | Link

russ: lyles constant
User: goulo
Date: 2011-02-10 22:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:lyles constant
Age. Or just greater awareness of one's failings. Anna and I often enjoy doing sudoku puzzles together in a race, and it's amazing (and annoying!) how often I make some unrecoverable mistake, even though I'm sure I'm being careful and logical...
Reply | Thread | Link

User: klwilliams
Date: 2011-02-11 06:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, I've "reached that certain age" where I can't remember anything, and I'm not sure if it's because of my health problems last year (so it stands a chance of getting better) or if I'm just doomed to be stupid as I age.
Reply | Thread | Link

Gary Emenitove
User: garyomaha
Date: 2011-02-11 13:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
>>Maybe these are middle aged moments.<<

Yes. Possibly other things, too, but likely this.
Reply | Thread | Link

my journal
January 2014
2012 appearances