Adapting to Memory Problems

My wife just looooved to tell stories about my memory problems in those early days after the accident. Once I got discharged from rehab and sent home it wasn’t so funny anymore. because she was going to have to go back to work, including a business trip to Chicago she could not postpone. One of her primary concerns was my memory, or rather lack thereof. I was not getting anywhere in the short term memory department. She was writing things down for me on index cards and leaving them all over the place. Names and phone numbers and other information. I was finding notes like the one on the fridge pasted up throughout the house on doors, mirrors, above the kitchen sink and probably some other places I haven’t found yet.

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Not all of these notes were just to be nice…

The most important to her I guess was the note reminding me to close the door to the basement so Keegan wouldn’t go down there. It didn’t matter that I’d already trained him out of doing that years before. The note to close the basement door started out nice but I just wouldn’t remember to do it no matter where the note was placed. She was nice about it even though she would have been totally within her rights to have it say “Close the f$#@&* basement door!”

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Be honest, Dad. Do you really think you’ll remember?

All jokes aside, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that making some adjustment going forward is important. I could say “Don’t be embarrassed about your memory issues.” but I’d be a hypocrite since I’m still bothered by it going on 6 months out. I can only urge you and your helpers to figure out what you need and what things work best for you.

One of my ongoing problems is keeping my schedule and appointments straight. I also have some cognitive difficulties with this process but the first big hurdle here was just trying to remember anything at all about the zillions of appointments I now had. Okay, so I’ll make use of my phone to do all that. I can use the calendar app and set alarms, even text myself… Yeah, right. My very nice and kind and tolerant speech/language pathologist wisely counseled me to begin using an appointment book of some sort but I kept insisting I could do it with my phone. “I could learn. I could. No, really. I am sure I can do it…”

Once I finally admitted she was right.

Once I admitted she was right. Of course.

I finally gave up and conceded defeat in that second week of July. This (with names blurred out) is what my life looks like now. It’s been that way for 4 months now. It was even mostly effective, except for some of my cognitive problems that mess up writing in the appointments correctly. I’ve since moved on to another book that has even more room for appointments. I’m getting a little better at it.

That is if I can remember where I put it down…

Another key thing my SLP practically ordered me to do was to designate a place at home to be where I kept the important things like my wallet and that book. “Just make it a habit. Do it every time. Keep reinforcing it. Do whatever you can.” I’m getting there but I still need to work on that. Now that I can drive I also have to keep my keys there but I still keep leaving them in the front door lock or in some coat pocket.

Depending on how you look at it and if you’re not waiting on me for something it can be pretty entertaining around here.

About peterwick

I was a long-time jack of all trades. Until suddenly I was different.
This entry was posted in Serious Posts on Brain Injury and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Adapting to Memory Problems

  1. Memory is an interesting thing. I’ve found that the way I remember things is much more “3D” than how others remember them. I guess I just need more help. Colors and sounds and experiences stay with me, were numbers and figures and unrelated details might as well not even exist. I learned through much experience that every important item that I cannot afford to lose MUST have it’s own place — the keys go on the key holder beside the door, without exception. They get hung up as soon as I go home, and they are always hung on the same hook, no matter what. My wallet and phone always “stick together” but I rarely carry them in the same coat pocket. One has one pocket, one has the other. My date book (I write things down, rather than using a PDA/phone) is always either in my knapsack or on my desk. Everything has its place, and to the untrained eye, I look a little OCD. But you know what? After years of training, I don’t have my life derailed from losing my keys and wallet. Works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peterwick says:

      My SLP had me institute the very same things you wrote about. I don’t have them perfect yet but you’re right about not being successful with the phone. I’m also finding the same kind of spotty reception you are in terms of your memory. Some kinds of things stick while others are like leaves blowing in the wind. Things that trigger emotional responses do tend to stick. That does tend to make others think my memory is just fine since I can remember stuff that didn’t make a difference to them at all. I just did a choral concert 2 seeks ago. Two things stand out. First, everytime I look at the music in rehearsal it’s like I’m sight reading it, even though I have notes and markings all over the place from prior rehearsals. Second, I was listening to a recording of it and a couple of pieces seemed mysterious. As in, what is this one called and did I really sing on that one?

      Like

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