Monday, July 24, 2006

Now, THERE'S something i didn't remember....

In a phone conversation talking about all the recent sun and heat, my sister mentioned that not only had she had skin cancer, but also our mother and brother. Huh. Did not remember that.

i've always been a bunch of freckles that refuse to become anything resembling a tan, and the heat makes me feel gross, so i've never been one of those "fun in the sun" people. "Whine in the shade," maybe. So i'd never really given thought to skin cancer as one of the things i should worry about. And that thought led to another thought (as they so often do,) this being a memory of a doctor visit early in the diagnosis of my fibromyalgia.

i had mentioned that, along with all the achy, dizzy, exhausted symptoms was one that troubled me--well, let's be honest, it scared the crap out of me. There had been a couple of times while i was driving in a familiar environment that i turned a corner and suddenly thought, "where the heck am i?" Just that momentary "Twilight Zone" feeling of having driven into a different dimension, an alternate universe, a shift in time.

Having not been all that helpful previously, suddenly my doctor was in territory she knew--she could send me to another doctor, a specialist. "Would you like to see someone who could assess you for memory issues?" Sure, i was game. So we set up an appointment with the in-house shrink.

When i arrived for the appointment, i was feeling uncertain of what was going to happen--so, do i do my best imitation of "normal" or...? i suppose it's a common fear of sitting in a room with a member of the Mental Health profession: "Is she reading my body language right now? How about now? Do i put on my 'acting casual' face and try to appear relaxed? Or should i look serious yet pleasant? Thoughtful yet confident? And can she tell that i'm thinking all this?"

Anyway, she did her best to put me at ease--she wore her "compassionate yet professional" face and body language, leaning slightly forward as she tried to make the questions on the clipboard she was holding sound as if she were simply having a pleasant conversation with me. i, in moments of nervousness (and to be honest, in pretty much all moments) can be something of a smart-mouth. i tried to keep that to a minimum in this conversation, although many things came to mind during the course of the 2 page "conversation" about my brain.

As she wrapped up the questions, i looked forward to some sort of illumination of my memory glitches, maybe even with some helpful steps to be taken. i smiled my "pleasant yet confident in the face of the Mental Health Professional" smile and waited for the verdict.

"Well, it doesn't look like you have any early Alzheimer's symptoms," she said, smiling back. "Often as people get older, it's helpful to carry a notebook with you to jot things down on."

i felt my smile freeze. i didn't even know i should have been worrying about Alzheimer's.

Okay, so i know i'm over 50 now, and i know it's downhill and down gravity from here, but how many other things should i be worrying about that i'm not? Now, there's something to keep me up nights.

In absolute brutal honesty, my mind has left me on enough occasions that i'm left worrying about whether or not i'll be one of those women who leaves the house with her bra on the outside of her clothes. And seriously, how do i make myself notes enough to avoid any of this? What do i do, leave myself a note on the inside of the front door that says, "Check to be sure you're wearing your pants"? Or, "Before you go to the store, check that bra is under blouse." Or maybe one on my dashboard: "Don't get lost today." And how do i know i'll remember where the notebook is?

If anybody else knows what else i should be worrying about that i don't know, just don't tell me. i'll probably forget it anyway.

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