I have always said that the thing I fear the most is losing my mind. So every move I make, every false step, every outspoken word sets me on edge, giving me pause.
Is the thing I dread the most finally pursuing me down road, gaining momentum as I slow down?
The fear is something that has plagued me for years, even while I was still working. If I misspelled a word, or searched for a word in my head as I was speaking, I thought – uh-oh, here it comes.
Now, twenty-two years later, I still have most of my faculties, but the worry continues to plague me. So many things have popped out of my mouth, with no regard for the hurt they might cause. And once they are out there is no way to take them back. Is this an early sign of dementia?
I don't know – maybe.
A few years ago, I had made plans to join a group of friends for dinner. They were to pick me up at the pre-scheduled time, but I was shocked when my doorbell rang and there were my friends. I had completely forgotten the engagement.
It reminded me of the time I had invited a friend I had not seen in some time for lunch. She never showed up, never called to apologize. I learned a short time later that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
There's that worry again.
I find myself in the middle of a book and have to look at the cover frequently to recall the name of the book or the author. Dementia? I hope not, but it isn't looking good.
I have IBS and when the problem raises its ugly head on a given day, I try to remember what I ate in the past day or two that may have set off the symptoms. Can't remember—I need a food diary to keep track of what I had for breakfast this morning.
It's not looking good.
Occasionally, I have found myself entering a department store that I have frequented for years and find myself totally disoriented as to where the section I need is located. It takes me several seconds and a bit of wandering before I am comfortable in the surroundings.
This is alarming. What if I drive out the driveway and end up in Timbuktu? It hasn't happened yet—but you never know.
I have sometimes run into a person I worked with for years and felt the need to introduce them to my husband. Can I come up with the name? No—it just isn't there. It's embarrassing and disconcerting—and scary. So far I haven't forgotten the names of any family members, but is that in my future? I pray not.
I am doing everything I can to keep my mind working; crossword puzzles, reading, taking life-long learning classes, writing, and socializing. Is it working? Maybe it's holding off the inevitable for a while, but who knows what is down the road.
I have had several relatives who have fallen down the crevasse that is called Alzheimer's or dementia. Am I going to follow into that foggy world?
In the meantime, I trust that my lovely editor and my readers will let me know if I begin to write gibberish. In the meantime, I continue to pray and worry.