For the last few days, I’ve been stupid. Alarmingly so. I get menstrual migraines, and a big part of them, for me, is that I can’t think straight. I get forgetful, I can’t concentrate, and logic doesn’t exist. My brain pod hurts, sure, and I get some nausea and visual disturbance, but I can keep mostly functional with meds. Except for the stupid. The meds don’t touch that. And the stupid makes life incredibly difficult – particularly this cycle. It reminds me of when I got a concussion at age 11 and lost my memory. I’ll have a conversation, and 20 seconds later, forget what it was about. I’ll know we talked about something, but I can’t tell you what. It took me 15 minutes to pack my lunch bag this morning because I kept opening the fridge to get something and forgetting what I was looking for, or setting some ziploc baggies down and forgetting where I put them.
And then I panicked. Is this what the early stages of dementia feel like? Stepping back and examining what I must look like – shuffling back and forth to the fridge but not taking anything from it, hunting for the ziploc bags that are right in front of me – I realized that this is exactly what I’ve seen dementia patients do. It’s terrifying. Is this how my dad felt in the beginning? Did he realize it? Did it scare him? Is this what I’ll be like when I first get dementia? Will I recognize it? Is it already happening? How would I know if this was migraine effects or dementia, given that the kind of dementia my dad had can hit even when you’re still young? I mean, this is clearly migraine related, but my level of brain fog during my migraines seems to be getting worse. Is it a sign?
I doubt anyone who’s been a caregiver to someone with dementia – especially to a parent – hasn’t at least briefly worried that they’ll develop it, too. I’d bet every one of us has listed the reasons why it’s more or less likely that we’ll suffer the same fate. I mean, my dad had dementia. I’ve had 5 concussions. I get migraines. I’ve been on various meds that could have altered something in me, upping the odds that I’ll get it in some form. I feel like it’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of when it’ll hit. And who would take care of me? I don’t have kids or nieces and nephews.
Normally, this would be the point in my post where I’d give you some kind of silver lining or put it all in perspective to make us all feel a little better. But I’m not up to it right now. Right now I’m just scared and in pain and I needed to say this all “outloud.”
Let’s make a pact, okay? I’ll keep voicing these fears, and you’ll be honest with me. If you ever feel like you’re seeing signs in me, please speak up. And I’ll do the same for you. And we’ll do our best to take care of each other.