If I Only Had A Brain . . .
“Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath” ~ Natalie Goldberg
For the past month, my brain seems to have been losing grey cells more quickly than I am able to regenerate them. The disturbing truth is that I cannot remember anything. I had been attributing this inability to form linear thoughts solely to stress because this family seems to be mired in a stress swamp.
However, I will allow that the probability of my synapses misfiring may be directly related to the medications in my regimen. For example, I was on Topomax for my migraines. A psychopharmacologist that I consult pointed out that the nickname for Topomax is “Dopomax” because the medication has a direct effect on an individual’s cognitive abilities. I just really wish that someone had told me about this before my dosages kept increasing until I was on an extremely high dose.
Actually, I thought that my brain was atrophying as a result of my no longer being in the workforce full time. As in, the more stimulation the brain receives, the better it works, and my brain stimulation is all self-imposed these days. Of course, this is still a possibility. My interactions these days are with my family and my dogs, instead of students, professors, and marketing reps. Slight difference . . . but I have to admit that I like my dogs better than most of those people.
“If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe
All of this could explain why I can’t seem to remember things from one moment to the next. I do write things down as reminders and make lists for the store, but then I cannot remember where I put the lists. Stop laughing . . . I’m not joking here.
In some ways, I remind myself of my canine friends. You know how a dog will come running into a room, tail wagging, and then suddenly stop and look around as if to say, “why did I come in here”? Well, that’s me. I find myself retracing my steps more and more in efforts to remember why I am in the garage, or why I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen.
Corey, as patient as always, suffers the most from my memory lapses. I’ll call him to come into the room and then forget why I called him. He stands there patiently while I retrace my thought process in my brain. Sometimes I remember. Sometimes I don’t, or I don’t remember until a half an hour later, and by then, the context is gone. What’s really annoying to me is when Corey will ask me for a word, and I cannot remember it. Being a wordsmith and former English instructor, this need to hunt in my memory for words is frankly, demeaning, not to mention that it makes me appear to be clueless. I fear the day that Corey will turn to Brett for references as he is tired of waiting for me to get my synapses firing in order to answer his questions about words and writing.
I’m afraid that I may be rubbing off on him, though. The other day when he was going to the store, he came into the room and said, “We were talking about something that I forgot to get at the sore. Do you remember what it is?” Of course I didn’t remember. I asked him to call me once he go to the store in the hopes that I would remember by then. He called, and neither one of us had recalled what we had forgotten.
Isn’t that just terrible?
“The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess . . .” ~ William F. Allman
So I did my usual bit of research on the brain just so that I could appear to know something about that which I am deprecating: my brain. One of the things that I discovered earlier is that scans of the brain make beautiful pictures. If the viewer does not have the least inkling of what she is seeing, the images resemble everything from tree branches to colored sperm to an intricate root system.
What I learned on my most recent exploration is that people who know these things or postulate about these things are now beginning to rethink the whole mediotemporal lobe as the memory center. Apparently, two of the key parts of this lobe, the hippocampus and the perirhinal cortex function alone and in different ways.
The hippocampus, which is shaped like a seahorse is more focused on consolidation of new memories; it is responsible for converting short-term memory into long-term memory. The hippocampus also helps humans to recall spatial relations, emotions, and navigation. Navigation? As in what tells me how to get to Baltimore, Maryland? Actually, I think it means more that if my hippocampus were functioning at full speed, I would have remembered that there are three steps leading into the garage instead of thinking that there were only two, which led to the fall and subsequent sprained ankle. (http://biology.about.com/library/organs/brain/blhippocam.htm).
The perirhinal cortex plays a role in encoding object recognition memory. Studies have been done in which subjects are shown a series of images. They are later shown the same series of images and asked to identify those which they remember (“familiarity-based recognition”). Through imaging, scientists have been able to determine that the perirhinal cortex resets itself between sessions, which I find to be pretty cool. Sort of like hitting control/alt/delete when you need to reset your virtual brain. This resetting indicates that this part of the brain is working actively rather than passively. ( http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(08)00634-X)
Amazing what you can find with a Google search.
“Brain: an apparatus with which we think that we think.” ~ Ambrose Bierce
Which leads me down another path . . . what if my brain is just getting old? I mean, what if my brain has begun to sprout brain grey hairs in the same way that my temples have? Fixing the hair problem is easy enough: a visit to my stylist and a loss of money. But do they have Miss Clairol for brains, and if so, how do I go about getting some?
I know that I’m probably over-thinking this (audible groan), but I mean, come on. Don’t you get just a wee bit concerned when you feel like Winnie the Pooh—all stuffed with fluff and a mind that is fixated on only one thing? Of course, there aren’t many things more adorable than Pooh, but it’s a bit embarrassing for a grown woman in her after-30’s to have the thinking power of A.A. Milne’s most beloved creation.
“The existence of forgetting has never been proved: we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.” ~ Friederich Nietzsche
Which brings me to the actual reason for this post: I joined Condron.us just after it appeared in my blog stats. Condron is a new blogging community that is fast becoming as popular as that other blogging community whose name I shall not put in my blogs any more.
When I joined Condron, I had great plans to be a contributor to its forums and to visit the site with every new post that I published so that I could seek out other interesting blogs on which to bestow my words of wisdom and praise.
But then I forgot. Completely forgot to comment, forgot to visit. Mind wiped clean. I would remember to list the site in my tags, but that was as far as it went, and if I am to be truthful, I remembered to list Condron in my tags because it’s a most-used tag.
Now, my stats have been lower of late, and I’ve been pondering the reasons why. But in pondering, I would be distracted by something else on my stats page, like a new link or something like that, and then I would forget to ponder the problem any longer.
I know, I’m making it sound as if I have the attention span of a fruitfly. Trust me, the fruitfly is more focused. At least it knows what its purpose is in life and why it has landed on an aging apple.
“It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.” ~ Michel de Montaigne
So my whole point is this: I need brain stimulation. I need to do more exploring of other people’s blogs and let my mind be filled with new voices (not the ones in my head—admit it: That’s what you were thinking), new ideas from different places.
Don’t misunderstand: I love my little community of blogs that I visit daily. It feels as if we’re having coffee together all over the world. I find that immensely gratifying. But I want to find more people to collect, which means that I need to start visiting Condron.us regularly.
If you’ve never visited a blogging community before, and you are interested in seeing who is out in the blogosphere and what they are writing, then I would highly recommend that you visit one soon. It’s a great way to get people interested in your own site and to share information and comments with other people who might be writing about the same things that you are posting.
So don’t be like me, or like I was. Visit Condron.us soon at http://condron.us. It’s worth remembering.
More later. Peace.