The Deep Dark Pit of Lost Words

My sharp, smooth, knowledgeable brain has failed me.

According to my brain doctor I have the beginning of dementia. I didn’t want to hear that, but, I wasn’t surprised. Those words were heart stopping.  Dementia….that can be a prelude to Alzheimer’s. Right away my future looked dark and gloomy! My sister-in-law died from Alzheimer’s. She didn’t know her daughter’s name. I couldn’t see any good to this bad news. However the still small voice said, “you’re not alone Miriam.”  God knows my frame. He directs my life. I am His! Trusting God with the knowledge I have about my brain is the way to go.

 

All the stuff I have learned and the people I know and have known are in the archives of my brain.  All the information is there buried in the vast gray matter and wire system. However, now, when I’m talking to anyone…new friend or old, if I need to finish a story that I had started, I can’t. The story is gone! I can’t remember it! All I can see in my mind is a “white blank”!

The words that will finish my story are GONE!  I can’t retrieve the words from my brain. They won’t go from brain to tongue. They are lost in “The Deep Dark Pit of Lost Words.”   I have no clue as to the end of my story. It was destroyed in a flash of a moment.  My sharp, smooth, knowledgeable brain has failed me. It is scary, frustrating, embarrassing.  Calling for a word to finish my thought or sentence is no longer a part of my normal life. It could easily be a simple word in the story but, my gray matter lost it. And so I say to the person I’m talking to, “I lost my word.”  Some laugh and some look at me strangely.  This happens too often. Actually it has happened so much that I don’t want to talk to people anymore. My brain also does not save new names into my massive gray matter.

What has become the new normal for me is to not tell stories. I mostly dodge long sentences. Oh, the words eventually come out ….BUT…my audience is gone. I can’t run and find them when I remember my word because lo and behold if I did that I would forget the word or the end of the story again. It is a circle of frustration. This is embarrassing when talking to people, so I now avoid putting myself into that situation. Of course hiding from people because I forgot their name or lost my words is not a good way to live.

According to my brain doctor I have the beginning of dementia. I didn’t want to hear that, but, I wasn’t surprised. Those words were heart stopping.   Dementia….that can be a prelude to Alzheimer’s. Right away my future looked dark and gloomy! My sister-in-law died from Alzheimer’s. She didn’t know her daughter’s name. I couldn’t see any good to this bad news. However the still small voice said, “you’re not alone Miriam.”  God knows my frame. He directs my life. I am His! Trusting God with the knowledge I have about my brain is the way to go. The Bible says, “Trust him with all your heart.” There is no better prescription!

My brain doctor also told me to do new things to challenge my brain. The old “use it or lose it” truism. So I went to the computer for information about Alzheimer’s and found information called “The 7 stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.” I read all seven and saw myself in Stage Three which is “mild decline.” The article read: “You will have memory and cognitive problems like:  finding the right word during conversations; hard time remembering names of new acquaintances. (yep! this is where I am right now.)

But wait, I do not have to give in to this monster.  There are things that can help me stay in stage three. The doctor said that I can challenge my brain to do new things. I can put blood and muscle back in my brain. My doctor told me that exercising my body will be good start because it sends much needed blood to the brain. “I picked up the gauntlet” and opened the door to my new world of physical exercise, puzzles, word games, drawing and reading. That’s not so bad. My husband, Joe, and I have always been competitive when it comes to word games…. it will be fun and helpful at the same time. I love to write and draw so that too will be fun.  I started with exercise.

Exercise

I entered our garage and headed for my “Dorothy and Toto” bicycle. I brushed the dust off the seat and handle bars and off my rusty basket. All I needed to do was to have Joe put air in the tires, put on my faithful helmet and take the bike on a short ride around the neighborhood. Wow! I forgot what I missed by not biking. It was a great ride!

The Wonderful World of Puzzles

Puzzles are made up of cut-up pieces of color that need to be connected to other cut up pieces of color to make the picture that is displayed on the box. It is time consuming….it is a “where is that piece” game. My mother loved to do puzzles and so did my sister but to me it was a waste of time. I’m finding out now that it is a brain builder. The putting together of the edges is easy but getting into the body of the picture is tough. It is indeed a brain workout.  However, I thought, I can’t just do picture puzzles all day long so I decided to stretch my brain by playing word games with Joe.

Word Games

Joe and I enjoy a word game that has letter tiles.  You turn all the letter tiles upside down so that you can’t see the letter it represents. Then you take 21 tiles from the pile and that is the starting of the game. It can be frustrating if your twenty-one tiles have too many letter “U’s” or “J’s”.  It is a major brain work out. But even with puzzles and games I still have moments of walking on the dark side and falling into the deep, deep hole of lost words. However, this is a fight that I won’t give up on.

Never Give Up

Giving up is something my family wasn’t allowed to do. My Mother was of Irish blood and they are known to say “You can do it, don’t give up!  My father had the Winston Churchill English blood that shouts, “Never Give Up!”

One of the important “never give up” passages is in Romans 5: 3-5:

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

And so with these strong roots and trusting God, I will not move beyond this present dementia to Alzheimer’s (at least not without a fight!).

To God Be The Glory!

Mariam Gauiter is a member of Treasure Coast Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Stuart, Fla.