Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sky: Stupid 1

The other day I did something that left me feeling stupid.

I know, breaking news, right?

We all do “stupid things” everyday. I know, I do, always have.

Yet, it’s different now, somehow.

Here is what happened….

After playing Bridge to exhaustion, I’m staggering to the door when I notice a briefcase on the floor. Memory circuits start firing, and as I stand there, swaying slightly, I’m recalling a few of the many times when I’ve spotted Sayer heading off to work in the early morning. Me, drinking my coffee in bed, and Sayer, on the outside, hauling his briefcase. 

His briefcase is distinctive. It’s slim (in a European style, perhaps) and Sayer carries it casually slung over a shoulder with a strap. Cool. 

For some reason I choose this moment, staring at the briefcase, to mention how I like his briefcase. There is a short silence, then Sayer answers in a very even tone, “Um, that’s Emma’s briefcase?” And a low-to-medium wave of shame (somewhat disproportionate to misidentifying the briefcase) passes over. I resume my trajectory toward the door, muttering like a drunkard about how of course I knew the difference between the bags.


The odd thing was that I DID know the difference between the two, but that wasn’t as important to me as the memory Emma’s bag had triggered. I wish I’d given myself the time to sort out my reactions before going with the shame option.


[Note from Jane:  Ever since Sky's diagnosis, I've become more aware of people's casual use of the word "stupid" or "dumb".... I'm learning to watch my language. We're so careful with our language so as to not offend various groups of traditionally marginalized people that I'm now finding "stupid" to mean more than I ever thought it did before. How about you?]


  1. Yes, it is very curious. How Sky's go to emotion was shame. A diabetic would not feel shame when his blood sugar dropped. Our society has so many prejudices. And we have incorporated them into our mindset. And with failing synapses, Sky has and even more difficult time teasing out the differences. And Jane, I agree, the words stupid and dumb are so charged with negativity. We would never call an infant or a stroke victim dumb. Maybe we need a new word. Memory deficit? Would it help if when Sky makes a "memory error" those around him just agreed? I apologize if I am way off base. Just a thought.

  2. We like thoughts, thoughts are good! We do need a new word. What is "intelligence" anyway?

  3. Bridge! That surprised me and maybe I am even a little jealous, because I used to LOVE bridge, and I still would, except that my memory for what's been played isn't what it used to be. (Am I worried? Sure ... isn't everyone our age? Only time will tell.) I learned "Mexican Train Dominoes" from other cruisers in Grenada and got hooked ... enough variety and strategy to be interesting and enjoyable, but the tiles that have been played are face up ... that works for me :-)!

    I have a couple of thoughts (glad you like thoughts ;-). One is that the briefcase mistake is one that anybody could make -- to have a memory triggered that influences what you say, when in fact you do know the difference. That's not stupid, and may not even be the AD. So that thought is ... maybe not every cognitive hiccup is the AD ... some things may just be, you know, mistakes! Maybe the AD diagnosis creates a lens that you can't help but see everything through.

    My other thought is, there goes that "Itty Bitty Shitty Committee" again, criticizing you so harshly because, God forbid, you named the wrong briefcase owner. And I find myself wondering why, and whether you are the kind of person who hates to make mistakes in front of people? Who likes to keep their (perceived) inadequacies to themself? I know I am. For example, I didn't want to take the lead on a man-overboard drill on our sailboat for fear of messing up, even knowing that I should, to be better prepared if it ever happened. Anyway, I see this go-to emotion of shame coming up for you, and you judging yourself so harshly, and I wonder if it comes from a deeply held aspect of your personality or identity ... and can an old dog learn a new trick ... to practice kindness not only with others, but with himself.