I've noticed some symptoms getting worse; it's not much worse but still I notice it.

Some symptoms don't bother me much.

Several days ago I was looking for two specific files in a list. I knew what was in each file, but I couldn't remember or even guess the file names. All my file names have some relationship to the subject of the file, however, so I knew that if I checked through the long list of files, I'd find it eventually.

Since there were two different files I was looking for, I decided to look for both at the same time. But I couldn't. I couldn't keep in my mind the subject of both files while at the same time looking through a list in which I had to match a name to the subject. I had to keep three things in my mind and I could only manage two. I went through the list one at a time, however, and had no trouble.

Other symptoms are more unusual.

I was wearing a very light nylon backpack as well as my usual belt pack when I came home from a long bike ride. I'd put my keys in my belt pack, but as I stood at the front door with my bike leaning awkwardly up against me, the keys weren't where I'd put them.

I searched through the four compartments of the belt pack repeatedly. Repeatedly. I kept searching—it may have been five full minutes—because they had to be there.

Finally I remembered that I had the nylon backpack on, so I reached back, felt the keys in the backpack and started to take it off to retrieve them. The next thing I remember was that I was searching through my belt, unaware that I'd already found the keys in the backpack. Again, I persevered with the belt pack for what felt like five minutes, then thought (as if it were a new thought) about the possibility that the keys were in the backpack. Only then did I realize that the backpack was slung half-way off one shoulder with the keys in it.

I'd completely forgotten what I was doing halfway through taking the backpack off.

And other symptoms are just strange.

The other day I was in the kitchen and heard a symphony being played outside in the alley.

Boom boxes travel frequently through the alley, but I don't remember any symphonies. And the music stayed in one place, seemingly outside our window.

I looked out and couldn't see anyone or any source of music. I asked Marja, "What's that music?"

"I don't know," she said, "I don't recognize it."

"No, I'm asking where it comes from."

She looked confused so I said, "What's the source of the music; it seems like it's coming from the alley."

With some puzzlement, she said "It's coming from the radio."

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Of course, it was coming from the radio that has been in the same place for years, that is always tuned to classical music on public radio, and that I had had to lean over to see into the alley. But I'd not recognized it.


On the other hand, there are some things I haven't lost.

I'm noticing again that what I might call "wisdom" has not really declined, at least not that I can notice. I can still participate meaningfully on the church leadership team, provide mentoring to some other people in the church, offer opinions that friends seem to value.

I just returned from giving a talk about Alzheimer's to a group of social workers, and I doubt that they would had noticed if they hadn't known my diagnosis. I'm aware of intellectual, cognitive slipping but not loss of wisdom.

I've always wanted to be a "wise old man" and I was getting there. After my diagnosis, I grieved the potential loss. Now, it seems, I can keep the role, at least for a while longer.

It's a fascinating process.

Intellect gradually disappears but relationships can flower.

Editor's note:  David's journey with Mild Cognitive Impairment was chronicled in "Fade to Blank: Life Inside Alzheimer's" an in-depth look at the real lives of families impacted by the Alzheimer's epidemic. His story continues on his personal blog on AgingCare.com.