Ouch Too

Forum => Talk => Topic started by: ditchdwellers on 29 Jul 2021 12:43PM

Title: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: ditchdwellers on 29 Jul 2021 12:43PM
My short term memory loves playing the most annoying tricks on me.
This morning I had a blood test at my local hospital, and it's now done by appointment only. No walk ins. When I arrived home I had a letter from my gastroenterologist enclosing a blood form for more tests! If only the postman had arrived a couple of hours earlier it would have saved me a further trip out!

Anyway, I called the doctors surgery to make an appointment (my preference) and they said they couldn't fit me in for in for three weeks. I said it was time critical, which it is, and I have an appointment much quicker. The receptionist was unaware that the hospital was no longer taking walk ins for blood tests which was interesting. 

So I then went off and made myself a drink, reread the consultant's letter,  saw the blood form and thought to myself 'I must make an appointment for the blood test!' Some part of me remembered a little bit of the conversation with the doctors receptionist because my next thought was 'the surgery is too busy, so I need to make an appointment with the hospital! '  :f_doh:
I had overheard at the hospital that you could make appointments on line, so muggins here registered (quite simple actually) and booked an appointment.  It wasn't until I went to write on my calendar that I realised what I had done  :f_laugh:

I suppose this whole process from first phone call to total cock up took me about half an hour. 
I feel such a numpty. 

I have have days when my sleep disorders affect my cognitive ability so badly that I really struggle to process information. Sleep deprivation has a lot to answer for. I try to laugh it off most days, but some days, particularly when my stimulants are wearing off, it becomes hard.
I know you folks will understand as cognitive function is affected by so many different things, not just pain, sleep deprivation, and fatigue.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 29 Jul 2021 01:33PM
Maybe I can give you a laugh about my own memory?  I think of it as being scatterbrained, but it's the sort of memory problem that's referred to in jargony stuff as an 'attentional memory' disorder /problem.  I've had some nasty cooking accidents because of it.  It's the 'oops what was I doing' that overlaps with 'oops, I forgot I'd done that'.

So here's my long but daft personal story of misunderstandings and fears to do with memory.

Years ago, I had a brain scan and was told by a psychiatrist it showed 'big holes' in my brain.  He was a bit unforthcoming, though.  Eek!

Later, after several memory tests by various psychiatrists, with problems in each test, and thinking that what they weren't telling me was maybe dementia, I got in touch with the general hospital where I'd had the scans, asking for copies, plus a copy of my latest audiogram.  You have to pay up front and I was sent a letter with the price.  Audiogram, plus about a dozen pages of notes about the scan.  Surprised, I phoned to confirm. Scan itself?  No, destroyed.  That many pages?  Yes.  Including letters?  No.

Then I got the paperwork.  A letter to the psychiatrist saying that the spaces over the something-or-others were generous and a query as to whether I used alcohol.  I had a friend with Korsakoff's dementia, a B1 deficiency which is mostly suffered in the UK by alcoholics but can be simply dietary.  She'd started developing it when she was about forty.  But where were the other pages?  I phoned up.  I was fobbed off.

My conclusion was that when a clinician made the final check, in accordance with official guidelines they'd withheld anything they thought might harm me, in this case details of a dementia diagnosis.

So then I believed I had dementia and I was being fobbed off by the psychiatrist.  Later, I realised that the memory test difficulties were basically hearing problems and concentration problems.  (Back to attentional memory?)

Then I discovered that there's a correlation between bipolar and attentional memory problems.  Ahh, mad not demented.

Later, it got rather surreal when I did my DLA to PIP migration.  It's very obvious that the assessor, horrified by the mountain of paperwork I'd sent in, had skimmed it very badly and phoned my GP.  One of the things said in the DWP decision was that I didn't have dementia.  Er, I never said that, I said I'd got an attentional memory problem.  Oops.

Very recently I got a phone call from my GP.  Usually I get called in for an annual check, but this year I got a call.  His final question was whether I'd got any signs of dementia.  So does he think I think I've got dementia, or is he just playing safe?

Given that he used to work in psychiatry and knows me, I think he knows that I'd know the sort of thing to mention to him if I was concerned.

But it is daft.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 29 Jul 2021 02:01PM
Incidentally, as regards memory tests - my five favourite examples of why they're often rubbish.

1. Counting backwards from 100 in threes.  Some people do this to get to sleep.  (No, really, some do.)  Also, how readily you do this will be affected by what language(s) you normally think/count in. 

2. I remember a silly conversation years ago on Youtube that went roughly like this...

"I had a memory test yesterday."
"Does John Smith still live at 42 High Street, Cardiff?"
"No, he's moved to 42, High Street, Durham."
"But he lives at 42, High Street, Glasgow!"
"No, he doesn't, he lives at 42, High Street..."

So is it testing your memory of what you've just been told, or your longer-term memory of standard memory-test questions?

3.  I had a saga with a doctor over whether he was asking me to remember Boy or Ball.  Is that a memory test or a hearing test?  How many people, particularly elders with late-onset hearing loss, mightn't realise they might have misheard or would feel embarassed to admit their hearing is bad?

4.  My favourite example of what goes wrong with memory tests. I've changed the names.

My friend Alice went with her friend Edna for a memory test.  She was given the usual spiel, then the test began.

"When were you  born?"
"And who's the Queen?"

The psychiatrist thought that this was the wrong answer, and that the correct answer was "Elizabeth", but both Edna and Alice, who know each other through a shared love of history, know how to parse a sentence properly.

"Who", accompanied by rising tone, is a question word seeking identity.

The queen could be (variously phrased) ruler of the country or wife of the ruler of the country.  If there is a queen, the question would relate to the identity of the queen, otherwise it could equate to "What is a queen?"

"Who's" can be "Who is" or "Who was".  "Is" can refer to present or past, and whether you use it to indicate the past depends a lot on things like social class and what sort, if any, documentaries you watch, talks you go to etc.  If you have an interest in history, you may often come across historical stuff narrated in the present tense.

Usually whether "who's" is asking about the past or present depends on context.  In the absence of any reference to time, the default interpretation would be "who's currently/now..."

But there was a reference to time. The question began "And..."

In other words, given that Edna, unlike the psychiatrist, was capable of parsing a sentence correctly, she knew that she was being asked "Who's the queen in 1928."  Mary of Teck was Queen Consort from 1910 to 1936.

So that question was a wonderful assessment of Edna's grasp of English and history and an utterly useless assessment of her memory.  If Alice hadn't been there, the psychiatrist would probably have marked her down as having forgotten who the queen was/is.

5.  Someone testing my father's memory with what I'll call general social questions appeared to think my father had forgotten who she was .  As I pointed out acerbically, she hadn't had the courtesy to introduce herself to us, so we didn't know her name or whether she was a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, a manager, an administrator or what.  How many people would feel able to point that out?  My father had just given a socially polite answer, vaguely referencing her position in the heirarchy (overestimated since he had a better grasp of courtesy than she had).
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: lankou on 29 Jul 2021 07:11PM
I have not been able to find my way out of a phone box for years.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 29 Jul 2021 07:22PM
I have not been able to find my way out of a phone box for years.
I'm not surprised.  That's not an ordinary phone box you're in, it's a tardis, so every time you open the door, you're in a new time and place and befuddled.

Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Fiz on 30 Jul 2021 05:40AM
DD I react like that when I am stressed and often do a task twice. It's not something I regularly do, but when stressed and my brain is in high drive worry mode or I am emotional then I can double task or miss a task that I wouldn't normally miss.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: lankou on 30 Jul 2021 07:14AM
I have not been able to find my way out of a phone box for years.
I'm not surprised.  That's not an ordinary phone box you're in, it's a tardis, so every time you open the door, you're in a new time and place and befuddled.

That has actually happened some years ago. I had a fugue in a phone box.

Mental Health: Dissociative Fugue (webmd.com)

Dissociative fugue, formerly called psychogenic fugue, is one of a group of conditions called dissociative disorders. The word fugue comes from the Latin word for "flight." People with dissociative fugue temporarily lose their sense of personal identity and impulsively wander or travel away from their homes or places of work. They often become confused about who they are and might even create new identities. Outwardly, people with this disorder show no signs of illness, such as a strange appearance or odd behavior. (https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/dissociative-fugue)
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Fiz on 30 Jul 2021 11:00AM
I've experienced fugues when in crisis. Twice I have found myself on a notorious bridge known for suicide jumpers with no memory of how I got there. I had no money on me or means of paying for a train fare. I can only assume that on both occasions that I walked and considering it is 5 miles away and the pain that should have caused me amazes me. Unfortunately the walk home was memorable as was the pain. I kind of guess I know why when in crisis when I often dissociate that the fugues led me to the bridge because that bridge has many times been on my mind. I've also dissociated a whole two week hospital stay. The only reason that I know I went to an out of area mental health unit is I have the MHA paperwork, I can't remember being assessed, traveling there, being there or what the hospital was like or the transfer to my local unit after two weeks. I came out of that dissociation while I was in my local unit having been transferred back there.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 30 Jul 2021 12:12PM
Some people can't cope with the notion that other people's minds might do that sort of thing, might suddenly not function or not function properly.  

There's something I want to let off steam about and I'm going to use this as my excuse.  It's nastiness towards the olympic gymnast Simone Biles for getting the 'twisties'. 

For those that don't know, she's on the American olympic team and has withdrawn. Various parts of the media are publishing stories emphasising that it's for 'mental' reasons, and the Mail published nasty vitriol by Piers Morgan, in which he characterised her as cowardly and running away (paraphrase not his precise words), which they had to go back and edit after there was an outpouring of comments referring to his behaving like that storming off the television set, so that in the revised article he said he shouldn't have done that.

But the reason she pulled out, which the Mail only mentioned in a less prominent article and many, when I last looked, haven't, is that she was getting the 'twisties'.  It's a nasty condition that people like gymnasts and swimmers get.  It's where you learn to do something and your body sort of learns to do it without your doing conscious thought beyond knowing your next move is a double flip or something, but if you get the 'twisties', your mind suddenly intervenes and your body gets tangled up.  A gymnast can get very nastily injured.

Well, we don't call it twisties in everyday life, although personally I'm getting fed up with told I'm 'overthinking', so it's clear that we do have a notion that there are lots of things you should just do automatically and that thinking can mess them up. 

Ironically, in my case, it's taken me until the last three years or so to realise consciously that for me a lot of the 'overthinking' I do is usefully compensatory, and these days often say to people that accuse me of overthinking that it's a technique I'm using to overcome thinking that doesn't work.  I say to think of it like limping - you can see it as a failure to walk properly or you can see it as your other leg working harder than usual to compensate for the one that doesn't.  But that's not twisties and our everyday language and culture doesn't distinguish, so for want of understanding, it's easy to be scathing of both.

I know on a very much lower level than Biles and her fellow fantastic gymnasts what harm the twisties can do in the context of martial arts, I just difn't have a word for it except something like not doing something instinctively or automatically.  I can remember decades ago being thrown with a technique I didn't know, and making the mistake of trying to think what to do instead of letting my body work it out.  I remember the thundering of running feet as I hit the mat awkwardly and my fellow black belts raced towards me and pinned me down so they could check my neck.  There was nothing broken, although I'd torn a ligament down the side of my neck, making my arm a bit difficult to use properly for a couple of months or so.  Imagine I'd been Biles doing one of those amazing flips - paralysed or dead?

I'm 'mental', a 'loony' etc.  I know that mental stuff isn't to be ashamed of, and I also know it makes sense to look below the surface of generalisations.  I really, really hope that what's happened to Biles, and the way her fellow gymnasts etc. are speaking out will introduce the word and concept twisties to our language, helping us.

Whether we'll ever get to the point at which we can recognise how utterly amazing it is that normally our brains do do what they're meant to, I don't know.  Perhaps not, because I don't think people in power want to recognise that their brains could suddenly do that. 

Cummings could have simply 'flipped' going on his famous trip, just suddenly running for it, maybe a fugue state, maybe something else.  But the last thing he'd ever have done would be to say so.  Better to be thought a liar or cheat or similar than 'mental'.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Fiz on 30 Jul 2021 01:32PM
Thankfully not reading tabloids I have bypassed all the nastiness and had read a short article on the BBC news website saying she'd withdrawn to protect her mental health and she thanked everyone for their support. 

It's no surprise to hear about Piers Morgan, I refuse to listen to or read anything the vile man says. 

I've not heard of the twisties but can certainly see how that can happen and how it could devastate a career such as gymnastics.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 30 Jul 2021 01:53PM
I generally avoid the Mail these days but saw reference to the article elsewhere and was more interested in the comments than the article, although I read the article.

I was very touched by the outpouring of support for Biles and hostility towards Morgan.  There were lots of comments accusing him of hypocrisy and criticising him for being horrid towards people with mental problems.  Given that it's the Mail, I was surprised but pleased by how many readers made a point that Morgan seems to take particular delight in picking on women of colour with mental problems.

I wish the Mail, which amended Morgan's article after the first flood of complaints, had changed the title of a previous article by a different opinion-writer describing Boris Johnson as schizophrenic, and using it as an insult.  But then they follow the tabloid tradition of using terms like psychotic, manic, schizo etc. to mean 'dangerous and likely to kill someone', so I suppose using schizophrenic just in its literal meaning of split mind is tame by comparison.  (And, I believe, socially acceptable in some non-British anglophone cultures.)

I'm very encouraged by reading more and more where people are taking exception to 'mental' and similar words and concepts being used as insults.  I'm very hopeful that the pandemic will have made a difference to that because of the number of people who never thought of themselves as 'mental' who've now experienced mental distress of one sort or another (though hopefully mostly not too seriously or at the very least not long term).

I map that onto my hopefulness in relation to a range of conditions characterised by links with the immune system and inflammation.  If long covid can remain something that's not stigmatised, there's hope that a less-stigmatising attitude can then spill over into other conditions currently often disparaged or written off as malingering, such as ME/CFS, fibromyalgia etc.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: bulekingfisher on 01 Aug 2021 04:11PM
Hello Ditch dweller

I have a lot of problem's with my central nervous system + my memory of what I saw on T.V the night before + my short term memory can disappear in 5 minute's  + I
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 01 Aug 2021 04:45PM
Hello, Bule.  What you've just said has made me think of something.

I am thinking of a couple of things I've mentioned about memory and also now added in my mind what you've said.

You see, when I think of you and memory, there ar two opposite things.  You write about forgetting what you saw on television or even something from a few minutes earlier, yet there's a different sort of memory that you don't lose - a deep down memory in your mind of what sort of person you are.  Something to do with an underlying memory of your kindness.

Often when I think of memory, I think of family and friends with dementia.  They may even forget who they are.  Yet we may not notice what they remember.  Maybe a gesture of courtesy, maybe a recognition of what pleases them.  I think that also applies to other memory problems.

I took Dad to a concert when his memory was bad.  He did not remember the music (Handel's Messiah), which had always been a favourite, but he was excited.  Deep down, some part of his mind remembered what sort of music he loved.

What was it, he wanted to know.  But deep down, his brain remembered when in a classical concert you can talk or not talk.  He was quiet during the music and quiet during the sort of pauses where it's not considered ok to talk.

So you, Bule, come here and with your different memory problems, you still remember how to type, how to express yourself clearly and succinctly, how to say something worth reading.

I wish our society made more emphasis on different sorts of memory.  We could better help people if it did.
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: bulekingfisher on 02 Aug 2021 11:50PM
Hello Sunny Clouds

Thankyou for the nice thing's you say about me + I agree if scoiety treated the different form's of memory loss seriously then prevention is much better than cure
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: lankou on 03 Aug 2021 10:22AM
I can't remember the film but a man is walking down the street, a lady driving a car stops and asks:- "Can I give you a lift home?" 
The man replies:- "Do you know where I live?" The woman answers "yes." To which the man replies:- "That makes one of us."
Title: Re: Stupid, stupid, short term memory.
Post by: Sunny Clouds on 03 Aug 2021 11:57AM