The panic attacks seem to have subsided for now. They’re possibly related to bills. This time of year is my “seizure season.” There’s a lot for me to contend with from birthdays in August and on Halloween to the holidays. I start stressing about Christmas right around the start of school in August. I never know what kind of Christmas my boys will have until Christmas Eve when there’s no time to scrape a few last bucks together for one more stocking stuffer. I can’t predict anything in our current financial situation. I don’t know how everyone seems to know someone in housing and on food stamps with current year cars, the newest phones and lobsters for dinner. That is not happening in this government subsidized household. I don’t know how we’ll get Skas a costume for Halloween…
The panic attacks may have faded off into wherever they hide from me, snickering in their wait to frighten me past midnight, but I’ve noticed something weird happening. I haven’t brought it up to Kasper but I have noticed him eyeballing me suspiciously a few times over the past few weeks.
Most brain injuries result in some sort of memory loss. Short term memory loss is treated as a given. At first I noticed I had trouble remembering common, recent things like what I watched before bed last night. Then I noticed I had trouble remembering order (like making a grocery list based off the layout of a grocery store). After a couple of years I had a list of memories lost. I don’t remember when Skas started walking or his first words. I don’t remember what age JJ started rehab and I can barely remember my age. I want to count these as parts of the given but some of these memories are really old. I don’t remember what age I was when I moved out of my home state and I used to know the day, not just the date. These could also be attributed to aging; I’m officially an adult now. I’m in my thirties [*shivers*].
A few weeks ago I tried to recall something and couldn’t. Of course, I can’t remember precisely what it was but it was something I should have known like the day of the week. This is not uncommon for me but the feeling that accompanied this lost fact had me in a near state of terror. It’s one thing to forget what day it is but to look inward and try to recall it only to find an echo chamber is soul-shaking frightening. I now have better understanding of that dazed, half-baked, crazed look on those old folks faces they made us visit in elementary school.
I’m used to falling asleep without control since the stroke and because it is so sudden I’m typically used to waking up in the middle of the day feeling completely and utterly confused. Sometimes I can’t grasp why it isn’t dark or why it’s 5 in the morning (when it’s really 5 at night). Sometimes I panic because it’s quiet and I don’t know why; why did no one wake me before they left for school? Where did everyone go? Forgetting that its late afternoon, I’m alone and on the couch and not in my bed.
What I’m not used to are these recent bouts of confusion accompanying sudden memory loss for no clear reason. The other day, I was looking at a calendar confirming with Kasper a doctor’s appointment for one of the boys when suddenly, nothing made sense. It was like I forgot how to read, how to understand the calendar and tell time in schedule blocks. I cannot describe this type of panic. It is not physical; it is all mental and I don’t like it.
I think most people know what it’s like to forget to swallow. Usually all it takes is to tell your throat to swallow and everything goes dry, there’s no spit and you suddenly realize just how far back your tongue really goes because it is now blocking your esophagus. That same confused fear that makes you wonder if you’ll die via suffocation or choking is that same fear I feel when I find my mind is completely blank.
It’s not even that my mind is black or dark; it’s just empty. There’s nothing there. It’s like when you move out of your apartment and you’re standing in the center of your living room looking around at all the space you didn’t know you had. There’s this type of residual presence of something you know should be there but isn’t. It’s worse than forgetting a word to describe something and having to settle on a term that is far less effective and descriptive; or reaching for a blurry word that you won’t grab until it’s pointless to bring it up again. It’s worse than moving your garbage can to a new spot and not remembering until you’re mid-throw with a used coffee filter seconds away from hitting the floor. It’s not being unable to say what I think but being unable to think what I need to say.
It’s frustrating but it’s also deeply depressing. I get torn between panic and fear so often that I’m not sure what to do. I try to keep it all suppressed because I feel like such a hypochondriac when I speak out on these things. When I think of these moments of confusion and sudden memory loss, I don’t know what to think about them! It is not unlike me to zone out and not remember what I was thinking about when I “come back” from the zone. It’s not unlike me to not know what day of the week it is but trying to recall and not being able to mentally line up the days of the week and deduce what day it is, is not like me. I’m worried “paranoid” will soon be added to my list of residual effects from the stroke