My memory is definitely better

It’s getting easier to keep it all in order

I just got a re-issued bank card, with a new expiration date and a new set of security digits on the back. It’s that periodic ritual that over the past 9 years has come to intimidate me. Back about 5 years ago, my brain was not working very well, and I had a hard time remembering even the most basic things. An expiration date and three unique digits had about as much chance of lodging in my brain, as a chemical recipe for artificial sweetener.

It just wasn’t going to happen.

Heck, I had trouble even remembering my parents’ home phone number, which I had been using since I was 12 years old – over 35 years. I had a heated argument with my spouse about the correct number, while we were trying to get in touch with my parents back around 2005 — and wouldn’t you know, the number that I swore — up-down-left-right — was the correct one, was actually wrong. Didn’t I feel like an idiot, when I had to ask my parents again, what their phone number was…

Well, anyway, I have been working on “that numbers thing” for some time. For work, I have a random security code I have to generate and then type in, whenever I want to access the system. Random codes get generated by the system — a new pair of three-digit numbers shows up every minute or so — and then I have to remember those numbers when I switch to a different screen to login, before the numbers get changed by the system.

It used to be sheer hell for me, because there wasn’t enough time for me to write down the number and then punch it in before it changed. I used to really struggle with figuring out how to do things in a specific order, so that I could do them quickly and smoothly. I would either not have my paper and pen nearby to write it down… I would get confused by all the different windows on my computer screen… I would feel pressured and rushed to write down the numbers… and when I wrote them down, sometimes I would get them turned around. And then when it came time to punch in the numbers, I would get them turned around in my head and would mess up.

Six digits — two sets of three numbers — how hard can it be, right?

Well, for me, about 5 years ago, it was well nigh impossible. It was pretty demoralizing, and my neuropsych exam showed very clearly that I had serious issues with short-term memory when there were distractions around. Distractions could be anything from a sound I picked up in the background, to a flash of light on the ceiling from a traffic driving by in the afternoon sun. Or an itch. Or a stray thought. I was scattered — and dismally so. It was just not good.

I wasn’t content to stay that way, though. Cripes, that was just no good. So, I really worked at things, trying to keep numbers in my mind — when I went to the library, for example. I would look at the online books listing, pick out two different books with two different call numbers, and then write them down on a piece of paper. I would tuck the paper away, and using my memory alone, I would try to locate those two books. I still do this, and I think it’s helped me. I can remember numbers much better now, than I could before. When I’m really tired, things don’t work so great, but when I’m going about my business at a natural, usual pace, things go much better.

Much, much better than ever before.

So, that’s encouraging.

And now that I have my new bank card, when I go to update my account information and order things, I can actually remember the expiration date and security code, which is pretty freeing. It takes a lot of time and energy and motivation and coping strategies, to live your life without being able to remember basic things like a few digits. We live in a world that’s run by digits. And relying on always having a piece of paper around, so I can write things down, was at times a challenge in itself. I usually had a little notebook with me (still do), but a lot of times, I forgot to keep it with me, so I lost that aid, as well.

It’s been much easier for me to work on my memory for small amounts of digits, than remembering to keep my memory aids with me all the time.

So, that’s helpful. And being able to remember people’s faces and names… that’s helpful, as well. I’ve been actively working on that, too, so that I can interact with people better. It’s helping, to do all this. It gives me something to focus on, something to work towards on a regular daily basis. All of my other issues come and go, but my memory issues have remained pretty constant – and at very important times – so I have had plenty of opportunity to focus on them… and get better.

And I have.

It’s shaping up to be a beautiful day, and I’ve got a nice “wide” weekend open ahead of me. I am looking forward to moving at my own pace, and making progress on some projects that have been waiting in the wings for about a month, now. I have been continually frustrated with how much time it’s taken me to recover from the push at work I went through starting a couple months back. But now I’m finally feeling like I’m human again, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve got a bunch of yard work I need to do, and it looks like the weather is going to hold.

It’s Friday, too.

Life is good.

Onward.

 

 

 

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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