Just because you’re paranoid…

I got in the car this morning to drive my daughter to the bus, and pushed the button that turns on the Prius. Nothing happened. I looked at the dashboard and saw that the only light that had appeared was a small key icon with a line through it. That didn’t do it for me. I said, without expecting an answer, “What gives?” And my fourteen-year-old daughter, who does not drive, replied, “Do you have your purse?”

The Prius has what’s called a ‘keyless entry’; you carry a fob that communicates with the car and as long as it’s in the vicinity of the ignition you’re good to go. The fob lives in a zipped pocket in my purse. I never leave the house without my purse. My purse was in the house.

Last week, I was working out with my trainer, and he demonstrated something he wanted me to do. Then he went to get a floor mat and I immediately forgot the specifics of what he had shown me fifteen seconds earlier.

I recently read a book called Still Alice, about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. The protagonist was about my age, but much more accomplished, a professor at Harvard (which underscored how much she had to lose compared to the rest of us). Literary criticism aside, I found the book disturbing, primarily because now I have something else to worry about.

I’ve had a bad memory all my life. I inherited it from my mother, who, by the way, is still sharp as the proverbial tack. I always make lists of things to do so I’ll remember to do them. If I run to the store for a couple of things without writing down what I need, I’ll recite a list of the items all the way there so I won’t forget. I always knew this behavior indicated a somewhat compulsive nature, but I didn’t think it foreshadowed Alzheimer’s.

Since reading Still Alice, that’s all I think about. I fantasize about what life would be like for my husband and daughter if I did have that disease. I wonder if I’d have the courage, not to mention the wherewithal, to check out before it became too problematical for all of us. When these thoughts get overwhelming, I chastise myself for being maudlin and melodramatic. I remind myself that there’s no family history of Alzheimer’s, and the likelihood that I will fall prey to it is slim. Then I remember the old chestnut, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you, and I start to worry all over again.


5 responses to “Just because you’re paranoid…

  1. Welcome to the club. You are in the preliminary stages of a little syndrome I like to call “getting older”.

  2. Check out this book for solace. I keep meaning to read it…

    It’s another take on the way the middle-aged brain works. The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain by Barbara Strauch.

    Here’s a link to an interview with the author: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125902095

    I struggle with this too. Apparently some people’s minds hang on to different info. I have trouble recognizing faces and this is related to having trouble finding things and remembering where I put them. Doesn’t mean that other parts of the brain aren’t working well–and perhaps better than the brains of those who fill their memory with the locations of their keys!


  3. I don’t blame you for getting paranoid. Reading something like that is just going to make it worse. Do you know that med students think they have the diseases they study? And forget the psychology students learning about mental illnesses – they worry they have them all.

    Keep working with your mind – writing, researching. And maybe a crossword puzzle now and again.

  4. You can do several things in support of the physical brain and nervous system also. They have been helpful for me…or at least, I THINK they have been! Best ask my husband.

    One, get rid of any and all aluminum cookware. Aluminum is strongly implicated in Alzheimer’s, with or without a genetic tendency. And while you’re at it, eighty-six the nonstick stuff. (Toxic fumes, in case nobody’s mentioned it.)

    Two, make sure you’re not eating GMO’s. It isn’t well documented yet, but there’s a high likelihood that they have a negative effect on intelligence and awareness, in addition to all the havoc they wreak with the ecosystem.

    Three, try taking gingko biloba. One capsule twice a day for 6 months, without a break. If you miss a day, start the countdown again. Six months of continuous gingko supports permanent changes in the neural wiring. You can support it with things like DMAE, also. A good herbalist should be able to help you make the right choices.

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