Tuesday, September 27, 2005

There's a fog along the horizon

Cognitive dysfunction really gets me down. It is not the same as fatigue, which is a monster in itself and something most people don’t experience until they have full-blown ’flu’. Fatigue is like a lead weight in the top of your skull. It weighs on every thought and slows your entire body down. It is unrelenting, unlike tiredness which comes and goes and improves with sleep and rest. But its principle effect is straight-forward, as if your brain is running on Low Battery. And if you have it for years and years, your expectations fall and you have a new concept of ‘tired’ which is what everyone else might refer to as ‘exhausted beyond comprehension’.

Cognitive dysfunction is more complicated. For example, today I can’t spell. Word (where I am typing just now) is underlining about every third word I write in read. If I typed this in Blogger without a spell-check, it would probably be illegible because I wouldn’t notice my mistakes. I am usually a pretty good speller and I am usually a very fast typist. I can speed read. But not today. Today the English language is a strange and complicated tool. As you can imagine, this is taking me ages to write.

But there’s not a whole lot else I can do. I had an order arrive from a craft catalogue, but I can’t remember what the heck I was going to do with the stuff that I have bought. This should come back to me, but it is disappointing because I know I was looking forward to getting the stuff. I had been trawling the craft catalogues. Panduro have discontinued Luminous Stiffy. Panduro are a Swedish company, you see. You could spray Luminous Stiffy on stuff to make it luminous and well, stiff. I never bought any but it made me titter. Like the hobby of Teabag Folding, right up to the point where you learn what it actually entails.

Having a brain that doesn't work brings me down much faster than having a body that doesn't work. I am my brain. When it fucks up, I am fucked up. One of my earliest memories, my earliest memory of terror, was when it occurred to me that all the person I was had little to do with my body or any part of me I could see. It occurred to me that there was no good reason why I didn't float out of my body and find myself in someone else's head, someone with a different Mummy and Daddy, someone starving in Ethopia for example. I remember this occurred to me whilst on our way to pick Rosemary up from primary school, so I must have been about three at the time. I began to cry but couldn't explain what was wrong and couldn't stop crying.

I imagine that if I could put this in a different way, everyone would think, "Oh yeah, I remember thinking that" and I wouldn't prove to be the only toddler who ever underwent an existential crisis.

However, clearly, I am still here. I am still myself. Even if I am a somewhat dyslexic version of myself who managed address a parcel to Leiceiceicestershire this morning. There is really little difference whether the dodgy mechanics are in my head or in my body. I really ought not to take this so badly.


imfunnytoo said...

Goldfish...I feel for you.

I don't have the fatigue issue, but when my depression is heavy I often feel like I'm chasing the few coherent thoughts I have around in a goldfish bowl. (no pun intended) I catch one and another gets out of my grasp.

I hope things even out a bit for you soon.

Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell can empathise with the Goldfish. (She could also sympathise, but considers sympathy to be much over-rated and of very little benefit to the recipient.)

For years after her back injury, Lady Bracknell was in constant pain, certainly, but her mind was still her own. (She was occasionally heard to mutter mantras of an, "I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman..." nature.) Despite her physical frailties, she never once lost sight of the empowering truth that she could still out-think most of those around her.

Then she developed diabetes. For many months, while waiting for the medics to establish exactly what was preventing the standard medications from stabilising her condition, she lived with permanently elevated blood sugar levels.

She was exhausted beyond anything she had previously experienced and, had it not been for the frequent and extremely pressing need to relieve her bladder, would never have managed to drag herself out of bed.

But much, much worse than that, or the terrible dehydration, was the loss of mental acuity. Lady Bracknell vividly remembers staring at documents and, while understanding each individual word of a sentence, being wholly unable to understand the sentence as a whole. She does not expect her body to function properly, but the fear of permanently losing her acuity of mind was very great.

Lady Bracknell is fortunate in that her diabetes is now well-controlled, and her fogginess of brain largely a thing of the past. She is, however, still all too familiar with the phenomenon of being suddenly quite unable to spell when her blood sugar levels drop too low. However, she is in a better position than the Goldfish, as the ingestion of a banana will almost always restore her spelling ability.

Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell has tried to discipline herself, but she cannot.

The correct lyric is,

"There's a fog ALONG the horizon".


marmiteboy said...

I'm constantly fatigued these days too. Although my spelling is always shit so being tired doesn't affect it.

I hope your feeling a bit better today.

The Goldfish said...

Thanks for your empathy guys and to Lady B for the correction - would have driven me mad every time I saw it had it occurred to me. Today is... different. But I know it will get better. :-)

Marit Cooper said...

I do empathise, deeply, I've always felt that I could put up with almost anything as long as I was allowed to "keep my head". After all it is in our heads that we actually live our lives. We have no first hand experience of the world, everything we experience is interpreted by our brains. If our brains aren't functioning properly our worlds are in chaos!