I’ve been trying, for the past three hours, on and off, to write a blog post. I don’t think I’m failing, exactly, since I have been able to put words to my thoughts and retain them long enough to type them out – no mean feat, that, since I’m still struggling with ongoing dysnomia (the frequent inability to find the right word, though it’s on the tip of my tongue and I can describe it), plus my short-term memory is shaky and I’m easily distracted. I just can’t tie those thoughts together in a coherent manner.
So I’m starting over, and I’m focusing on this one particular phrase that keeps coming to mind: someone like me. It has so many different applications, doesn’t it?
It could be a simple comparison about medical condition: I have learned about someone like me. A friend emailed me an article about a woman whose story is eerily like mine, except hers veers even closer to an unhappy ending. I felt compelled to visit her husband’s blog and leave a comment, though I’m not emotionally strong enough yet to read the whole thing. My story is rare – and thank God for that – but not unique.
It could be a plea: Please, someone, anyone, please like me. I’m so broken, and so confused. Sometimes I babble on, each sentence making sense but not clearly relating to its predecessor or to the other person’s words. Sometimes I’m so physically fatigued and/or mentally sleepy that I start to nod off mid-sentence, no matter who’s talking. That dysnomia slows everything down, as I cast about fpr the right word or some acceptable substitute. And so on… I have a whole list of reasons why I’m a less-than-stellar conversationalist lately. Yet I crave conversation and company; I’m so grateful whenever someone is willing to spend time with me, and I’m terrified lest they regret it.
Or, it could be curiosity, an existential sort of thing: am I anything like I used to be? I know I’ve changed tremendously; how could I go through what I’ve gone through and not change on innumerable levels? Am I still someone like me, or have I become someone new? Just how much can someone change and still qualify as the same person? And then there’s the fact that I don’t remember what I used to be like so I can’t try and reproduce it now.
Did you know that, about the retrograde amnesia? I don’t think I’ve written about it here, yet… not because it’s a secret, it just hasn’t come up. It’s an odd thing, hard to explain. The coma itself, that’s just blank, and from the days immediately afterward I have small bits of memory here and there, but I slept a lot and wasn’t able to encode a lot more of the times when I was awake. Once upon a time, I remembered almost everything that happened to me, with near phonographic skill. (That’s not a typo; my memory of visual things is about average, I think, but I used to be able to quote huge blocks of words verbatim – a helpful skill for my transcription work, not to mention a vicious weapon during any argument). Now, I’m considerably less able to form lasting memories. I’ll forget whole conversations and ask the same question several days in a row with no recollection of having already done so; this would be exasperating enough for Willem, I think, but must be even harder to deal with because it never happened before.
I can remember very-long-ago things as well as I ever could, and even up to about a year ago I have pretty solid recall. But somewhere around then, things get very hazy – but in a strange way. It’s not a big, solid wall of blankness; if reminded, I can recall most events, and can even come up with new details on my own. So, if asked to list all of the vacations I took in 2009, I would draw a blank, but when someone mentioned that I went to Paris, the light would come on and I can remember where we stayed and what we ate. I actually have surprisingly clear recall of the days immediately prior to the coma; long stretches are lost to simple, overwhelming pain, but specific interactions and the overall chain of events are solid in my mind.
The weird thing about it all is that, even once I can independently recall some event, I seem to have completely lost any sense of emotional tie to it. It’s like if you’ve heard your mother tell a story about her own childhood, and you’ve heard it enough that you can retell it yourself with a high level of detail… but it didn’t happen to you, so you don’t quite have the same set of feelings attached to it that you would have if you were talking about yourself. So I can tell you a bunch of stories from the past year, but I don’t feel them… which is horrible, because that includes things like the pregnancy, the move, the birth… stuff I would like to be able to relive, a little. Even the unpleasant stuff, the spondylitis diagnosis and ye layoff, that’s all part of life and I’d at least like to remember what that felt like as a comparison, to know if I’m ever feeling worse. But it’s all just very vague and removed, a distance between me and whoever I used to be.
Anyway, that’s what has been rattling around in my head all night. Now it’s time for me to go to bed, before I get lost in another tangent…