Do I know you? A Novella…

This will be me, talking to Mr. Tot in a few years if things keep up…  We joke, in a half ha-ha, half oh-jeez-you-know-it’s-coming-but-we’re stuck-with-it-so-we-might-as-well-laugh kind of way, that my mind will complete its transition to apple and cinnamon oatmeal shortly.  How shortly is anyone’s guess.  Still sweet and kind of ‘picy, but mush, pure mush.   Motherhood is supposed to target those memory cells for immediate deflation, but is that really all this is?


This entry was prompted by my doctor’s appt this morning.  I’m thoroughly convinced that lack of sufficient drugs have been impeding my memory, at least recently… I feel like I’m drugged if I don’t take drugs (prescribed medicine). [And yes, that is pure speculation as this goody-too-shoes never got into drugs]  And by feeling drugged, I mean it’s hard to think – I feel like I’m in a cognitive fog, and can’t seem to clear the waves. I’m thoroughly terrified or maybe just depressed that the ramp-up phase for this new drug will result in another month of feeling like my head is in pea soup.  Currently, it comes and goes, and the going is all that keeps me functional.  Even so, I have to write everything down, because there is no guarentee that any information will stick.  My head is a bit like one of those snowglobes, where every bit of info is a piece of snow, and it gets periodically shaken.  No nice neat organized library or file cabinet in my head, no siree.  Whooa, somebody just shook it again.  What was I saying?  Seriously.  


Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale….

Normal or not?  

I frequently joke about forgetting something, and other people joke back, especially to the effect that it will only get worse with age.  My memory has been bad since I was young.  My mom often related a story from when I was young, or asks me something about it, to which my response is, ” Mom, I don’t remember that AT ALL.”  But what IS normal?  Since it’s hard to get into other people’s head, how do we know?  I guess if you’re functional, your memory is not bad enough to be considered a problem?  Do I have to burn down the house (I’ve gotten lucky on that count) or get lost for a few days?  Maybe they should put a bus stop in front of my house as a precaution.  I hear that Alzheimer’s patients are magnetically drawn to bus stops.  They have taken to putting fake bus stops outside nursing homes.  


So to give some background to my memory problem, or what I perceive as my problem…  [God help you all if you’re right here with me.]


The unrequited quest for gooood sleep:

I think my memory-making capacity was impaired by the fact that I couldn’t stay awake.  In junior highschool, my teachers thought I was on drugs because my eyes were always half closed.  In college, though I attended all my classes, I slept though a great many of them, not that it alleviated my fatigue as the constant head-bob is hard on your neck and not conducive to the rejuvenation that eluded me.  Early in my career, I slept through so many meetings, my boss sent me to the Stanford Sleep Clinic.  This was a lovely experience which I don’t care to repeat – where they stuck a tube up my nose with a whole mosh pit of interns jostling for front row seats.  They then told me not to cough or make it come out as they would have to put it back in.  The only thing worse than having it in was the process of getting it there.  Then I slept with electrodes all over me and when I had an incredible need to turn over, I feared I wouldn’t be able to without dislodging the offensive intruder in my nose.  I pressed the call button once, and waited, pressed again and waited. I held that thing down and would have screamed if I could have, “get the *$^&@#  in here!!!!!” but I had to settle for banging on the wall behind my head.  Fortunately their control room was adjacent or I might have had to be admitted someplace where the padded walls wouldn’t let me knock.  The nurse yelled at me for not just pressing the call button.  I would have reached up and throttled her if I could have.   I have to believe that only sadistic people were working there – it must have been a requirement on the application — Do you enjoy inflicting pain, driving people crazy, and acting there must be some misunderstanding because of course you would be happy to help? But I digress.  I could only croak out a whisper, but she turned me over and I managed to sleep, sort of.   By some miracle I survived the process which lasted the entire next day as well, only to be told that yes, I had a sleep problem, but no, they couldn’t tell me what it was. Oh joy, I was unique, wasn’t that special?  They did tell me I woke up a lot, which accounted for my fatigue and for my vivid sensation of leading a double-life.  I remembered an excruciating number of dreams (you don’t remember your dreams unless you wake up out of them) all of which I physically felt the effects of. I remember fighting fires, and ducking machine gun fire.  I could remember my dreams better, or at least as well as real life.  It didn’t help that many of my dreams were mundane  and just slight variations on real life.  Did I eat that last bit of ice cream or was that in my dream?  Oh yes, and did I mention I sleep walk? I have gotten stuck in my own closet, and regularly sit bolt upright, try to climb my walls, beat up Mr.Tot (intruder in my bed!!) or freak out over any number of possible scenarios.

I was always exhausted.  Who knew what new adventure I would be on each night?  Periodically, my dreams were horrifying and involved violence.  Those times were awful.  I did, however, entertain my colleagues by reciting my dreams – and they in turn would psychoanalyze me.  Now THAT was fun.  This all ended when I went on medication to prevent migraines at about age 30.  


Chapter 7: Chasing the dosage…

I’ve had migraine headaches since I was 13.  I distinctly remember my first one.  I was away from home and thought I was going blind – there were black spots hiding big chunks of the book I was reading and then, the headache was intense.  It was scary. Migraines have been a defining force in my life ever since.  None of the headaches since have been cut as clear-cut as that first one, and indeed it took many MANY years before the doctors and I understood that all of my headaches were probably migraines.  There are non-headache migraines which involves peripheral symptoms – such as light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, nausea, perception distortion, stiff neck, and a variety of other lovely side dishes.  information regarding migraines seemed to evolve slowly.  

In highschool I had a headache for a month straight.  I had severe light sensitivity the first three years I lived in California to the extent that I did not want to go outside.  Sunny California which everyone thought was wonderful but for me, it was torture.  At one point, I had a headache that ebbed and flowed, but peaked so severe that I just laid in the dark and cried, for about three weeks.  I decided it was time to seek help.  I had previously sought help for a long list of ills which I told the doctor might be perfectly normal, but I figured I’d include everything, such as my active night life (meaning my dreams!), temperature swings, and a myriad of other stuff, my doctor told me to see a pyschiatrist/ ologist.  I didn’t bother.  This time I just asked for help with the pain, and for the first time in 17 years, went on medication to deal with my migraines.  I had already tried a host of holistic remedies, but mostly they just made me burp from taking umpteen pills and cost a bundle. Surprise!!! Most of my other symptoms went away as well.  


I went on Amitriptyline, which is an antidepressant, and caused me to pig out and gain 30 pounds in 6 months.  However, it did wonders for my head, and my sleep.  I rarely remembered my dreams, and being headache-free and symptom-free, I felt like what I imagined a normal person must feel.  It felt like heaven to me.  Sing the Alleluiah now… Now just for that weight thing… The doctor switched me to Propranolol – I think it was 10 mg/day way back then, and I managed to lose the weight, and was a happy…  oh wait, my marriage went to hell, and I got divorced.  But that’s another story.  Internally, my body was finally a reasonable facsimile of what it should be.  I no longer cringed when I walked outside, nor felt like I needed to hold on as I walked down the hallway because it went up or down hill in my version of reality.  And miracle of miracles, I could stay awake though (most of) a meeting.  Hey, they were long and boring after all!  But life was good.  It was amazing as far as my lack of headaches went, AND my much improved sleep. I think my friends missed my wild stories of talking whales, lions with men’s heads, bizarre hovering platforms, and other utterly twisted stories, but it was all for the better cause. [Sidenote, the night our neighbor killed his wife, I dreamed that Scott Peterson, remember him? was trying to hit on me – it was very creepy – and I told Mr.Tot about my dream BEFORE we heard about Nancy Cooper going missing.]  And yes, I still got some headaches, often when I traveled or was sick with something else, but they were few and far between and conventional OTC medication usually took care of them.  Do you hear all those angels just now?  Life was GOOD.  On that front anyway.


Through the years, my dosage has increased and my blood pressure has decreased to the point where I get light headed on occasion, and here-we-go-again – foggy-headed-TIRED.  It varies between 84/52 and 96/62 most of the time.  Soooo, a concerned do-gooder ObGyn’s assistant suggested I talk to my regular doctor about trying new meds.  The first guy, meh!  I wasn’t impressed with.  He put me on the same medication (propranolol) at half dosage but slow release.  I determined that this was not the answer.  I had trouble getting out of bed, and trying to get through my day.  Mr.Tot thought I was cranky – I didn’t have enough thought process to be cranky.  My brain was moving in super slo-mo.  Alternatively, I could function but with a headache.  I couldn’t win.  So this morning, my regular doctor whom I’ve only seen twice in 3 years despite going to her office many times (arrgh) changed me to Topamax (seizure med which seems to prevent migraines as well).  However, we have to ramp up to full dosage, and I’m just not looking forward to the possible pea soup interlude.  Hence my need to spill my guts.


Exhibit A

Today’s doctor’s appt went something like this:  

When was the first day of your last period?  Ummm, hmmm, I think a couple weeks ago… 

When was your last Pap?  Umm,  hmmm,  I’m not sure, I’ll have to call my ObGyn.

When was your last mamogram?  Ahh!  I haven’t had one yet, because at 40 I was pregnant, and then I was nursing until Halloween of last year.  Was it just last year?  Man that seems eons ago, oh what?

When was your last tetanus? Ummm, no idea

Well if you can’t remember, it was probably more than 10 years ago, we can give you another one.

No, it could have been last year, and I still wouldn’t remember.  I better look it up. (provided I remember by the time I get home)


I remember one time in California when I went shopping somewhere, and as I walked out of the store, I had a profound loss of short-term memory.  I had absolutely no clue where I was – I knew I was in a parking lot of course, but didn’t know where my car was, or what street I was on, or anything. It lasted only about 15-20 seconds, but it was truly disturbing.  


think about random things through out the day, but sitting down to put them on paper – whether blogging or making a list – poof! gone…

It’s a constant struggle – some days easier, some days harder. 


Distractability factor – 100% 

Exhibit C….  what?  oh maybe it’s Exhibit B then.

silly things I have done lately

   – check out person today asked me which doctor I had seen and at first I could only remember Tot’s old doctor. It took me a bit longer to recognise that the name I remembered was tot’s doctor and not mine

   – turned the oven on to preheat, put the food in, and when the timer went off – it wasn’t done because… drum-roll please, I hadn’t set the temperature. (I always set the temp knob back to warm with the thought that it won’t be as bad if I forget to turn the oven off.  Don’t question my pea-soup logic )

   – I set up the coffee-maker to make coffee, but it wasn’t filling – I hadn’t put the top on the carafe to trigger the coffee to come down, so it overflowed.  Mr.Tot got lots of grounds, and I had a big mess to clean.

    – I couldn’t remember my friend’s kids’ names that I see frequently

    – Frequently forget to change tot’s diaper during the day unless she stinks of course.  Oh well, she always gets a fresh one in the morning and at night, isn’t that enough???  (kidding!)

    – when our garage was clean enough to park in, I regularly forgot to close the garage door when I left in the car.

    – I changed my doctor’s appt so I could go to FL to visit my parents.  When I got back, I checked my calendar and saw the original appt but interpreted it as for the week I was back.  I went to the doctor’s on wrong date – D’oh!

    – I FREQUENTLY listen to directions and promptly forget part of them before the speaker has even finished speaking.  Pea Soup is cloggin my ears, I swear.

   – I have even forgotten about Tot in a store, but fortunately Mr.Tot was with me and remembered.  Oh great CPS will be after me now!!

   – I am forever forgetting things I want to blog or details I want to add….  

I often feel like I’ve forgotten something very important, but rarely figure out what it is…

I have to make lists, but I usually can’t remember what all to put on them at one sitting – they are works in progress.

I always make a list for the grocery store, but hmm, forget to take the list.  

Insert about 57 more silly things here that I can’t remember …

Yes, I know a lot of these are common – hence my question  – what is normal? 


I do all the finances.  Lord help us you say?  Even with my issues, it’s safer than having Mr.Tot do them.  Trust me on this one…. However, I occasionally have to verify Mr. Tot’s business expenditures – While checking the credit card bill, I always have to preface my questions to Mr.Tot with, ” I know you’ve probably told me already (6 or 7 times), buuuuut what was this one for?” 

Mr. Tot jokes about the future:  We have to have kids, so they will be able to take care of us.  But man will they get away with murder…   [His memory is questionable too, but it seems to be better than mine.]


I have a friend in California who claims that having a bad memory is, or can be, a blessing.  You can’t remember the bad things.  Perhaps, but it does leave you feeling lost.  By this point, you’re all probably thinking how pathetic this all sounds.  Either that or wondering when you’re going to see me looking for the nearest bus stop…  Go ahead laugh.  Mr.Tot and I do….   If you don’t hear from me for a while, I may have forgotten I even have a blog…  


1 Response to “Do I know you? A Novella…”

  1. 1 Deb June 4, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    welcome to your 40’s…

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