Evidence of mental decline mounts
“I don’t know why you get mad when I say you’re old, because you are,” my son Zane said last week. Having read my column, this was the lone statement in his literary review.
I vehemently maintain that my downward spiral into geriatric living began in 1996 on the very day Zane implanted himself in my womb. His subsequent birth did additional permanent cognitive damage, and the continued daily physical and mental taxation of being his mother has only expedited the aging process – so much so, in fact, that I believe I should be granted handicapped parking privileges.
I just celebrated my 43rd birthday in June, and the signs of mental decline are becoming increasingly apparent. Last week, I erroneously referred to our late neighbors as “George and Betty Brown” in my column. My friend Scott messaged me on Facebook, asking if I’d meant George and Betty Baker. The charming couple lived two houses down from my parents on Taylor Avenue from the time we moved to Fairfield when I was 5 to the time of their deaths. I delivered their paper for several years. They were at my high school graduation party. I’d remembered their Christmas tree; you’d think I could do them the courtesy of remembering their names. In my defense, George was a druggist at Brown Pharmacy. At least it was a logical mistake.
Last Tuesday, my son Jasper needed a ride to Ottumwa; however, our departure was delayed when I couldn’t find my purse. I searched the house but did not find it. I went back to the Ledger to see if it was on my desk; I had no luck. I called Lyle Hannes to see if I’d left it at Josie’s shop. He told me she was still there, and I could run down and check; it wasn’t there, either. I was perplexed. The only three places I’d been all day were home, work and Josie’s. As he watched my frantic and fruitless search, Jasper got aggravated.
“I’ve never seen anyone lose things as much as you do. Seriously, it’s every single day, Mom!” Jasper said. “You lose your phone, your glasses, your purse, your keys. It’s so annoying!”
The anxiety of not being able to locate my purse coupled with the resentment his insults were breeding made me snap.
“Well, you know, I purposefully lose things just to upset you,” I shot back. “Today, at work, I just said to myself, ‘I think I’ll lose my purse today because I know that will really inconvenience Jasper and torque him off! How fun for all of us!’”
Jasper continued to grumble, and it wasn’t until I threatened to pull over and make him walk to Ottumwa that he stopped growling at me. Truth be told, I share his frustration. Losing things is becoming an almost daily pattern.
Earlier this year, I lost my classroom keys for almost 10 days. My friend and co-worker, Ruth Rippey, and I turned the high school upside down looking for them. Ruth had given me a ride the day they disappeared, so she and her husband, Russ, also cleaned their truck out several times in an attempt to locate them. I finally found them one night when I was stripping our bed to wash the sheets. There they were, under the mattress pad and fitted sheet. It was the only place I hadn’t looked.
Friday, my friend Sharie Leazer and I stopped in Iowa City on our way to Davenport for a Guy Penrod concert to shop. I was in the checkout line when a random thought struck like lightning: I don’t have the concert tickets.
“Sharie,” I said, hesitantly. “You’re going to kill me.”
“What now?” she said. Like everyone close to me, she’s growing accustomed to my lapses in memory.
“I don’t have the tickets,” I confessed.
“Well, look in your purse,” Sharie said.
Thankfully, I’d found my purse. When I came into work the morning after I lost it, there it was, right on top of my desk where I’d searched for it the afternoon before. Not only am I suffering from dementia, but I’m also going blind.
“I can look in my purse, but it won’t do any good because the tickets are on my dining room table,” I told Sharie. I knew this because I’d spent three evenings earlier in the week looking for them.
I said I would call my husband, Roger, and see if he would meet us in Washington with the tickets; unfortunately, I’d forgotten my cell phone on my desk at the Ledger.
The evidence just continues to mount: I’ve lost my mind. The worthless thing didn’t even hold out for half a century.
Back in the 1990s when I was working with Joanne Buch in the activities department at Parkview Care Center, she regularly prayed to St. Anthony when she misplaced something. “Tony, Tony, come around. Something’s lost and can’t be found,” she’d recite. If I turned to poor St. Tony every time I lost something, he would die again from exhaustion.
Monday, I Googled “supplements for memory loss” and read several articles recommending I start taking Ginkgo Biloba.
We discussed this in the newsroom Tuesday, and some concern was expressed about whether Ginkgo Biloba could act as an aphrodisiac. There was no mention of this in the information I read, but if the supplement did have those properties, a person might enjoy the added benefit of being able to remember the encounter.
Another site I visited suggested my dying brain might benefit from Omega-3 fatty acid, Huperzine A, Acetyl-L-carnitine, vitamin E, and Asian ginseng. Coffee, red wine, and coconut oil also received high marks as memory boosters.
“You’d better get them all,” my daughter Sage encouraged when I told her about my research.
“She won’t get any of them,” Zane poo-pooed, pausing to perfect his comic timing before he said, “By the time she gets to the store, she won’t be able to remember what she was supposed to get.”
Staci Ann Wilson Wright teaches special education at the Fairfield High School; she is a Ledger summer staff writer.