Tag Archives: memory

Forgetting

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Today I forgot how to make a paper crane.

That might sound like no big deal, but it’s actually a huge deal. When I was in elementary school, we did a fundraiser based on the book Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. We had a big session in the gym the day it was announced, where every one of us learned how to make an origami crane. We made more than the thousand that was our goal, and they hung all over the school, in a ranbow of colors.

I can’t remember what we were fundraising for anymore, or what our prize was for reaching our goal of 1000 paper cranes, but ever since then, I’ve always made paper cranes when I get bored. I make them out of napkin wrappers in restaurants, scraps of notebook paper in class, wrappers from candies. The steps to making a crane have been ingrained in my memory for 16 years; I can pretty much make a crane with my eyes closed and completely preoccupied with something else.

Or at least, I used to be able to. I’m taking a paper batik and bookmaking class for studio art credits for graduate school. Today I finished my book early and was bored, so I picked up a square of bright magenta paper and started the first steps to making a crane. Fold diagonally in half, fold again the other way. Fold in half to make a rectangle and fold the other way. Push all of the corners up to form a point, the flatten to form a square. Then…

I totally blanked out. I had no idea what to do next. I sat there and stared at the square of paper, turning it this way and that, trying to figure out what the next step was. I pushed the flaps in and out, without any idea of how to fold the paper to make the wings and legs. It took me about a minute of playing around before it finally kind of came back to me. I was incredibly relieved, but also upset.

I wasn’t this upset after leaving my car keys in the freezer, nor was I this upset when I forgot how to roll down my car windows. Troubled, yes, but upset, no. Those were just little things that didn’t really matter (or at least the car keys were, but forgetting how to roll down the window was pretty bad). But this — this is huge. I feel like I lost a part of myself that I’ve had for more than a decade and a half. When we go to restaurants and such, my family members always pass me their napkin wrappers for me to make cranes out of. It’s what they know me for, and what I do in my down time and for relaxation, or when I just have nothing else to do and there’s paper handy. And today I feel like that little part of me that I’m known for disappeared.

I don’t know what to do. I could go back to my doctor and ask to have my medication reduced again, but my pain levels would probably increase, and I don’t want to start next semester being in pain all the time. Or I could reduce and go on a pain medication, but that’s not something I really want right now — I’ve resisted going on pain meds so far, and don’t want to start now. I could also switch medications, but that would mean months of figuring out the dosage, if it even works. And then there are the side effects to contend with. Who knows what those might be? Medication is about balance, and I’m at a point now where I need to decide what’s important and what needs and wants outweigh the others. I was willing to deal with a bit of memory loss when it came to small things like where I left my keys, but this is much, much bigger than that. This is part of my identity.

I dunno. I should probably go back and see what she says. My next actual appointment isn’t until September (about the longest I’ve going without seeing her since she became my PCP), but I know I could get in within the week if I wanted to. She’ll probably blow me off and tell me what I’ve already said: “Medication is about finding balance between the pros and cons.” But is a little more pain control worth the continuing degeneration of my memory? I just don’t know. I need to think on this more before I make a decision.

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Ew, rain

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Guys. It’s gross out. It’s been raining all morning and I think it’s supposed to rain for the rest of the day. Yesterday was gorgeous — we got up into the high 60’s — but today is just blah.

For the first time really, I’m noticing how the weather affects my pain levels. I think it’s because I’m finally paying attention to all potential life and environmental factors and how they might be influencing me. Last week I had a beer for some pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at my school and the next morning I woke up completely sore. My arms hurt, my legs hurt — everything hurt. Just one beer triggered a major flare-up. Wine doesn’t seem to do that to me, but beer does. That’s alright, though, because I really don’t like beer and I probably wouldn’t drink one just for kicks.

The weather is a problem, however, since it’s not something I can avoid or control. Rain seems to be the worst, as well as sudden weather changes. I’ve also noticed that high humidity increases my pain and I’m really sensitive to it — I know it’s humid long before I even go outside (typically I’ll be sweating and unable to sleep during the night as the humidity rises), while the rest of my family has no idea until they leave the house. There hasn’t been a big thunderstorm since my fibro has gotten worse, so I’m not sure what that’ll do. It also hasn’t been that warm since it’s gotten worse, so we’ll have to see what high heat does this summer. Cold isn’t fun, but it’s not terrible either. Finally, I’ve noticed that the time change seems to have thrown my body a bit out of sorts — I really hate adjusting to changing times.

Overall, a pretty blah day. My legs really hurt, which made going and staying asleep difficult last night. And now my arms really hurt, making typing this kind of difficult and painful. I think I’m going to make a trip to the chiropractor this week to get some adjustments done and see if that helps. I also have a sports medicine appointment tomorrow for my hips, so we’ll see how that goes. And, finally, a dentist appointment later in the week (which is always kind of awful — I have a hard time getting the dental hygienists to understand that I can’t keep my mouth open for six or seven minutes at a time like others probably can. It hurts too much, and I pretty much leave the office exhausted and flaring every time). In the mean time, I’m just going to try to relax and enjoy my spring break (key word — “try.” I realized as I was leaving school that I had completely forgotten to take an online exam that was due. So I’m trying to get that worked out with my professor. I really need to get this memory stuff fixed — hopefully this won’t stress me out too much this week!) and work on turning my antique mall-found apple crates into an awesome DIY coffee table and end table! Pictures of the process will definitely be posted!

Time to get that memory back!

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So I went to the doctor today for a follow-up on my meds. I feel like I just kind of dumped a whole bunch of problems on her, but that’s her job, I guess. One of my issues was my hips popping and clicking when I walk, and feeling loose and unstable. I get to go visit the Sports Medicine department for an evaluation. Yay. I feel like, I just finished PT, and now it’s time for more musculoskeletal-related evaluations? Oh well, I guess you have to do what you have to do. Hopefully they’ll be able to fix whatever’s going on with just some more PT.

But the bigger problem I brought up with her was my memory issues. She was definitely concerned, especially when I told her the incident where I basically forgot for a few seconds how to roll down my car window. That definitely shouldn’t be happening to a 21-year old. So I got a bunch of blood tests ordered (took a few tries to find a vein. I really hate my tiny veins, since I have to get blood drawn so often. And I hate needles, so it was even worse. And, on top of that, the tech kept telling me what she was doing and how she needed to keep wiggling the needle, and I was just like “STOP! I don’t want to know this, just draw my blood and let me go hyperventilate somewhere by myself!”), and she’s reduced my Lyrica from 225mg 2xday to 150mg 2xday, thinking that the meds are probably causing my memory problems.

While I really want to get this memory stuff resolved, I’m also worried about reducing my medications. I feel like my pain is pretty well under control, with bearable break-through pain. What’s going to happen when we almost cut that in half? I’m worried that my pain level is going to go way, way up, and that I’ll have a harder time managing. That’s not something that I want to deal with during the end of my final(ish) undergrad semester, while I’m working on grad school stuff and completing my final major classes. But I guess we’ll just have to see — we can always increase it again if we have to.

Not a very bad appointment, over all. The blood draw was uncomfortable, and I had to get a tetanus shot, but hopefully I’ll be able to get the hip problems and the memory issues resolved with minimal problems!