However, I’ve long wondered if or how much I would recognize a decline in my ability to think. Flowers for Algernon is one of those books which describes a lot of my thinking and wondering about the progression of my MS. It’s one of those worries which makes me pay special attention to how I and others like my kids learn. When I was in high school, my physics teacher used to laugh at my answers where we showed our work. I would end up reproving the the formulas we were taught. I was always focused on how we got to the work around. Even in high school memorization was a weakness, but if I had time I could remember how I got to what I was supposed to remember.
So now I still think a lot about how to think (Nerd Alert!). I hope to be able to remember how to think longer than I can remember what I thought. I do this in large part because even now I don’t know how to easily classify what I am forgetting. If I could do that, I wouldn’t have forgotten. Still, I am constantly caught in the middle of a task having to take a minute just to remember what I am doing and why. I see this a lot when I reread what I write and see the trains of thought left abandoned midway. I drive my wife nuts as I often come to a different answer than what I had been working on after such pauses. I leave a lot of things half done of late.
As much harder to quantify as the cognitive losses may be, I am at an even greater loss when it comes to emotions. How much patience do I have now versus 5 years ago? Is chronic physical pain changing who I am or is MS changing parts of the brain subtly changing my personality? Is there a way to look at myself and know some thing is suddenly different? Am I just a little bit crazy? crazier than before MS? How does one quantify anxiety and self doubt as they sneak in from everywhere and nowhere?
If you find a good answer for how to recognize these things, please let me know. The whole psychological field of study may also thank you.
In the meantime, at least I can envision running from my MS during my runs. Now I have something chasing me to motivate in addition to my mind’s image of my wife running or skating ahead imploring me to catch her if I can. No wonder, I run ever faster.
On the cool side, A and O went with me to have lunch with my dad and step-mom at the Cozy in Thurmont, MD. I used to go here with my grandparents, and it was a meeting place for family dinners/lunches out. It was the first time any of us had been back there since Grandma died. It’s still a ton of food, and I could still picture Grandpa telling me to get my ice cream in a soup bowl. As much as I still like the food, I loved the sense of family tradition even more. In the bathroom, there was a man who said he had been coming for the past 40 years with his family. When I got back to the table, I asked my dad how long he had been coming to the Cozy, and he said their family went there going back 50 years to when they moved to Frederick.
Some times, a sense of family belonging can come just from honoring tradition whether it’s a get together with family we don’t see every day at a place we have met for generations or dinner at our home’s dining room table most nights. Meals together have long been the time of family joining. It’s no mystery why communion is bread and wine. So many religions view the dinner table as a time for family, and family goes beyond blood lines. Eating together gives us a sense of belonging to our groups and our past.
Thanks Grandma and Grandpa. Memories created with you still bring future generations together.