Monday, November 26, 2018

Sky: Does This Strategy Have a Chance?

I’ve noticed a common thread among many of us of us living on the dementia continuum. As our short-term memories decline, so do our skills at handling conflict and stress.

Small bumps in the road that we previously would have cruised right through or maybe not even noticed, now turn into mud pits with DANGER flags flapping wildly. One of my first signs of neurological trouble occurred early on in the renovation project two years ago when I happened to overhear two workers talking about their schedules, when they were available for the following week. For some completely unknown reason, I found this conversation threatening, and I made tracks out of there!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sky: Baby

The other day, Jane and I were at the University of Vermont (UVM) as guest speakers for a class on Aging and Human Development. I was tickled to find out that the students’ assignment was to read the blog …Yes….THIS Blog …and create some questions for us.

The class was a seminar, small and intimate, with 8 undergraduate students. Perfect conditions for the emotional spillage that was to come..… It started when a young woman asked about the picture of the baby with a poem I had written called Soothing:

With my hands, I fashion
my own cradle
For a hurting brain.

I included the photo simply because it was too powerful NOT to include it. Hands tenderly holding the ridiculously vulnerable newborn, all wrinkly skin and undeveloped brain.

The hands take the very familiar protective position that I find myself in when the world threatens to overwhelm. I can’t take my eyes off this baby. There’s some meaning here that I’m almost, but not quite, getting. Fortunately, Jane is running the class at this point, so I don’t need to worry about my lapse, unless I take too long to return.

And then, suddenly, I get it. And I’m back. I’m mesmerized by this baby because…she is MY baby! Her brain still just partially developed, she is content (for a moment) to turn her gaze fully to mine and soak up her brand new world through my eyes.

Somehow, we were made for each other, though we are both so new to our worlds…vulnerable, open and not real smart yet.

Wow!!! What next?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Sky: Re-evaluation?

This week, I had my eight-month assessment/re-evaluation at the Memory Center. The usual cast of characters were on hand:

The efficient and friendly office managers,

My tester, with her arms full of flash cards, watches, combs and other professional supplies,

A random ensemble of white-coated professionals, quietly bustling about, making eye-contact with no one,

The patients, sitting docilely in pairs with their caregivers, waiting their turns to find out what the staff has to share, good news or, more likely, bad,

And, ruling the roost, Dr. P, patient and unflappable as ever. He also wears white, as befits his station.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Sky: A Bit of Personal Neuroscience

It turns out that a new and highly important part of the brain has only been discovered in the last ten years. It’s not even it’s own separate part…it is several structures working together as a hub to help make sense out of the tsunami of information and data. Its name is the Default Mode Network, DMN. Interestingly, this network wakes up and gets to work only when the rest of the body shuts down. So, when the rest of our brains and bodies and minds and consciousness enter downtime, the DMN literally switches on.

The job of the DMN is to keep the lid on, wax the floors when the office is closed, and generally re-establish order. So-called “lower” animals and young children have only undeveloped DMN, if any at all, instead creating a rich world of “magical thinking” to live in, with layers of wonder. Of course, many adults overshoot, as they put together their networks, building DMNs that are over-developed, leading to patterns of self-absorption and rigid thinking.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Sky: Demented Logic

A couple of weeks or so ago, I decided to plant some fall spinach in the garden. I had some space and the weather was still good. So, after checking with Jane, I bought some seeds and prepared a place for them. Because I remembered being forgetful lately [ ! ], I carefully followed the planting directions on the packet, including marking the area with good-sized stakes. Then, I waited. And waited some more…and more. These brand-new seeds were just not coming up despite frequent watering (I think)  and good wishes. Not a single one! But, I remember…. I was so careful making my rows, laying the seeds in there…just like the package said to do.

Now, THINK, Sky. Rev those neurons up. What exactly do I remember doing?