2018 Grateful 7

I caught the last train to the village on Thursday night. I’d been in a workshop all day and then to the doctor that evening but I was on time, with 30 minutes to spare. I settled in to my seat, a whole carriage to myself. The joy of late-night train travel. I double-checked my messages. Yep – I was to get off in Balatonszentgyörgy where himself would pick me up.

Fast forward the 2 hours and 15 or so minutes the train takes, and we pulled into the station. I got off. No sign of himself on the platform, which was unusual. No sign of the car in the car park, which was downright worrying. So I rang.

M: Where are you?
H: On my way to Zalakómar. Where are you?
M: In Balatonszentgyörgy.
H: What are you doing there?
M: This is where you told me to be.
H: But then you called and insisted I go to Kómar.
M: I did not. We haven’t spoken since this morning.
H: Yes. We did. You called me after your workshop.
M: No. I didn’t.
H: Yes. You did.

I ran back, crossed over in front of the Keszthely train getting an earful from the station agent for my trouble. The train splits in Balatonszentgyörgy with half going one direction and half another. My half was beginning to roll down the tracks but the shouts of yer woman berating me for my near-suicidal dash across the tracks pulled up the driver. He leaned out the window and shouted:

D: Hová mész? (Where are you going?)
M: Kómar!
D: Rendben (OK), thumbing back to the carriage.

I jumped on and he took off. {I’m available for stunt work.}

The friendly ticket conductor was curious.

C: Do you know where you’re going?
M: I know where I was supposed to be. But my husband, he’s in Kómar. [Relax – it’s just easier]
C: Ah, us men, we’re always wrong.

And bless him, he didn’t charge me for the extra leg.

So, I get to Kómar and there’s himself. On the platform, phone at the ready, to show me the record of our call. And yes. We had talked. For 3 minutes. I didn’t have the faintest recollection of the conversation. And that scared me shitless.

I am terrified of dementia.

Dementia is a syndrome, not a disease. … Dementia is a group of symptoms that affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning. Dementia is an umbrella term that Alzheimer’s disease can fall under. It can occur due to a variety of conditions, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease.

My anxiety levels were rising and no matter how he tried to steer the conversation, I kept coming back to the fact that I had zero recollection of a phone conversation that happened less than five hours earlier. Bless him. He really has the patience of Job. I was nearly hysterical. I had a knot in my stomach the size of a pregnant orange. On the 10-minute drive to the house, I messaged a good mate of mine in the UK who is studying memory issues and told him what had happened. Thankfully, he was online. He asked me if anyone had commented on any changes in my behaviour recently. I checked with himself. And yes, apparently I’ve been more forgetful than usual. I asked him if he could run a preliminary check on me. We fixed a date for Sunday evening.

It’s been hovering in the back of my mind the whole weekend. I’ve been watching myself like a new mother might an infant child, the anxiety eaten up by what ifs. What if those three minutes were is alibi for some heinous crime himself was wrongly accused of? I wouldn’t be able to swear on a Bible that I’d spoken to him… the most I’d be able to muster is that my phone records say I did, your honour. What if this is the start of it? What if I’m losing my mind? What if I can’t remember who I am in a year’s time? Or worse, what if I can’t remember who anyone else is!

We did the test – ACE-III – and I got 99%. The cut-off is 83%. No sign of memory issues. Man, was I relieved.

So why the complete blank? Knowing better than to suggest I was burning the candle at both ends, he told me of a patient who had been spinning too many plates in the air and had experienced similar blanks. When he’d cut back on his commitments, when he’d stopped running around so much, when he’d taken time to do nothing, the blanks stopped. Enough said.

I’m grateful it’s that simple. I’m already paring back on the weeks ahead and considering what I can do to take some of those plates out of the air without breaking any. I got the fright of my life. And while there may be far worse things that could happen to me, at the moment it’s losing my mind that I fear the most.

8 Responses

  1. Whatever else you slash from your over-wrought schedule, let it not be your blog!! Life would be much poorer without it.

  2. Have seen dementia in two people central to my life, I identify with your fear (well, terror in my case). Don’t tone it down more than you have to. Balancing acts keep your brain it top shape… Ah, and then there’s the importance of physical exercise too–even more than mental exercise, strangely enough. Wish I were there!

  3. You must be in a significant stress episode. Don’t worry about it. When you get to my age you have to learn to joke about those episodes.

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