There are so many ironic names for a sometimes foggy state of the human mind. I know you know what I’m referring to, right? It helps meto add a dash of humor to the situation; it’s less scary that way. Most of us with a disease, chronic pain or some other gigantic load to tote around, know this sensation. There’s fibro fog, rheumatoid haze, chemo crud and so many other names for a state that can only be described as maddingly confusing. Often, we find our memory non-existent as we forget what we did five minutes ago. Who or what to blame is the question.
All of the conditions I mentioned above can be part of the problem as we age, hundreds of other diseases and/or medications. I chose to stop driving when I started taking pain medication 24/7 two years ago. It seems a bit ridiculous here in Oregon where marijuana is legal yet here I am, being cautious while some pothead could be coming directly across the double line right at me. Medical marijuana does have its uses. I didn’t vote to legalize it for recreational use so don’t blame me. Our community, small as it is, has seven pot shops. I did however have occasion to visit two of them to buy CBD oil and both times, I swore it would be the last. It was. I buy CBD oil from hemp online.
I’m an old mainstream woman who simply isn’t comfortable around that lifestyle. My first experience was a pip. I had on darkening glasses, a large hat and a jacket, while accompanied by my husband I went into a local marijuana establishment, can’t remember but think it was called HIGH or maybe it was one called SWEET RELIEF. In full disguise, we walked in only to have the first guy who greeted us say, “Hey Jim, how’re you doing? Hey man, I’m staying out of jail.”
If you recall, my husband was the RN at our local hoosegow for 18 years and still has many “acquaintances” in the community. So much for anonymity.
Not everyone, unfortunately, whether it’s legal pot or not or prescribed medication, has the sense to stay out from behind a steering wheel when he/she does not have sharp reflexes. Unfortunate but true. If only… As for me, I am fortunate enough to have a loving and considerate spouse who doesn’t mind doing all the driving, well, actually, I think he prefers it. My driving always scared him a bit but his frightens me so we are even, I guess. He drives like a cop, having been one at one time in his past lives. Let’s just leave it at that after I say his braking leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of my reaction time as a passenger is because of my back and neck problems so I ride the hand strap more than most. One would think I was on a cable car. You know, as in “Ding, ding, ding went the trolley.” Good old Judy Garland, may she rest in peace.
There are numerous days I am befuddled, muddled and perplexed at my ability to forget things, misplace or lose many items and generally drive myself crazy. As an aside, let me say, it isn’t very professional of me to use the word crazy, nor is it politically correct, but if tissues can be miscalled Kleenex in our society than I think I have a right to call myself a bit crazy at times. I do many actions to assure my life runs a bit more smoothly, so please allow me to share.
I write myself lists upon lists and check them off because that works for me, unless I lose the list. It happens. Frequently, I have written the note late at night and cannot read my own writing. Well, I hated to wake up my sleeping husband by turning on a lamp and was only being considerate. That’s my first excuse. In full disclosure let me say, we sleep with the TV on so the room is not totally dark. What kind of an idiot writes in the dark? Not guilty of that one.
I keep fairly meticulous notes in my date books about appointments and what happens at them. It helps me later on to know when a certain drug was started, when a doctor had a good idea to share, etc. I think all of us need help remembering things like having the dog trimmed, when company is coming, etc. I’m terrible with dates and I blame it on the universe. Life is whizzing by much too fast. Could that lead to my confusion or haze at times? Please don’t get the idea I am always running around in a state of fogginess, because I am not but there are times, days or just moments when I lose a thought and definitely lose items in my life and home. Currently, it’s a pair of my favorite amethyst earrings. It’s strange because I only remove my earrings at home thus, the house is searched and, in the process, a bit of cleaning is done and I invariably find some other items I didn’t know were missing. You see, something positive can be attained out of even the most mystifying situations. Always look to find the lesson in all frustrations.
In the defense of those of us who are elderly, one doesn’t have to be very old to have those brain cells start to blow a fuse. I think for most individuals it starts at about 45-50 years of age. Of course, there are the very real and sad cases involving Alzheimer’s disease which is most tragic but not all dementia, thought loss, confusion is to be pinned on that tragically sad disease. Hardening of the arteries, various rheumatoid diseases and hundreds of others can cause serious confusion, like TIA’s, strokes and heart disease. Pain alone can be most terribly distracting. It’s pretty difficult to carry on a sensible conversation, in person or on the phone if all one is thinking about is one’s pain. Ask me, I have knownthat bit of wisdom for 30 years. It’s not always easy to explain to someone in a market you don’t have a strong enough back to stand and chat about their chihuahua, and I’m a dog lover. It’s far more embarrassing to go out to dinner with friends or family and while everyone is chatting, my only thoughts are often, “MY ASS IS KILLING ME; I HAVE TO GO LIE DOWN.”
I don’t ambulate well any longer but I do try to get to the market at least once a week with my dear guy. We each take a small cart after I’ve maneuvered into the store on my cane and we’re off. I have learned to make out two shopping lists, one for each of us which saves a lot of thatcross-weaving trek across the supermarket. It cuts down a lot on needless foot mileage and makes the recovery time later that day and night much better. There is always a price to pay when one lives with pain and it can be physical and mental. Fatigue in any form takes its toll.
I also find it helps me to focalize what I’m doing before or just as I’m performing it, whatever it is. “Okay, Sue, time to feed the cat. Don’t forget to check his water;” that sort of thing. Do I mind talking to myself, No. I also do that under my breath, muttering my way through the day, the market or life in general. Of course, I can usually pretend I’m talking to the cat, dog, etc. Quite often I am uttering a prayer for God to help me remember where I put something or simply to give me strength for the task ahead. It always helps to pray. I always feel God is near and does care about even the smallest parts of my life.
Stimulation helps me keep my mind on the line and in general, where it should be. I read constantly, watch certain shows, etc. That is good for the mind as my spouse and I try to identify all the aging actors on all the new cable shows and try to remember what they were in twenty, thirty years ago or more. Interestingly enough most of them have wrinkled, swollen and are balding. Memory can be such a blessing as we age or become more infirmed. Good or sad, they are part of who we are.
It also helps me to not only keep a concise datebook but to use a few minutes out of each hour when able, to straighten, clean or organize. Life surrounded by clutter is most confusing even to the healthiest individual. Now, if I can just convert my spouse into this particular philosophy. Of course, there are those days when I stay in bed and veg out all day and he takes charge of life. Follow your heart, don’t get discouraged and always take time for the spiritual side of your life. That’s the part that keeps the heart, the motor and the brain, the spirit in life moving forward, however bad the circumstances of your life. Hang in there my dears and always remember to laugh at yourself and realize you are not alone; befuddled, foggy, muddled or perplexed. Be mindful, be aware of your personal safety and always love others in your life and don’t become overly self-involved. Self-pity is a pit that’s hard to get out of. Avoid it and look up always full of hope.