|One of my silly laminated reminder signs- helps out on watering day|
|Posted on a sliding glass door, to remind me not to let Claude the Blue Lacy (my dog) out while thirsty wild critters are visiting|
It's really just simple, two-layer multi-tasking, which was never a problem for me before MS. But trying to hold a thought in my leaky brain now while focusing even temporarily on something else hardly ever works, and I guess I've adapted to it by not attempting it if I have a choice. And luckily, most of the time I can still manage to recall in time that I'll probably never keep things straight if I try to do more than one thing at a time....
Well, my first line of defense when I realize my brain is getting overwhelmed is to stop everything and focus on just the most important thing, whatever that is at the time. (Usually simply updating my calendar takes care of it.) The rule here is relax and take one thing at a time. And above all, I don't let myself get stressed. Keeping things loose, light and easy has become the most normal, natural response for me. Life's tricky enough without riding your own back all the time, right?
|Don't get stressed; keep it light|
So far I've got almost 15,000 people dangling on my family tree, going back past Saint Constantine, Emperor of the Roman Empire (my 43rd great grandfather), and I've got 17 other, much less complicated trees working as well. This genealogy stuff really interests me and is a perfect challenge; for one thing, I learn a LOT of stuff.
But connecting one family tree to another on that site involves multi-tasking on a level that would have been a challenge even before I got MS, so I've found it best to work on this stuff a little at a time. More importantly, I've learned to let it go gracefully as soon as it gets too complicated. Just let it go. When I get stuck like that, typically I have several Windows open at once with info I'm trying to compare and consolidate.
Inevitably there's a point where there are more levels than I can even see at once, if you know what I mean, and I almost feel something shorting out in my head. Not literally, but that's when I know I've tried to go in too many directions at once and have, understandably, lost my bearings....at which point I just close everything and take a break. Maybe I play a bit of Tetris or something; pretty much anything off the ancestry.com site. As long as I avoid anything that demands complex multi-tasking for awhile.
In circumstances when I have to manage to juggle two things at once, I employ what I guess you'd call a "memo-mantra", sort of a chant I literally mutter to myself unceasingly ("the water's running, the water's running, the water's running, the water's running") until I can, you know, turn off the water or whatever.
It's like the back of my mind has this very steep, slippery shelf off of which things always tend to roll... off into a void. I have to work hard to hold that extra thought on the shelf and it doesn't always work. Usually I find it best not to attempt multi-tasking in the first place. Like I said before, one thing at a time.
And I'm always forgetting what I was saying, which is just more multi-tasking FAIL.
I often wish my life had TiVo, so I could push a button and go back to find out what the heck I just thought of and so quickly forgot. (Uh, what was I just saying? Crap. I know it was important...oh well...)
I was doing medical coding in a family doctor's office when all of a sudden I found I couldn't remember the code for hypercholesterolemia (it's 272.0), an ICD-9 code I'd used countless times every blessed working day for years, but all of a sudden I couldn't think of it.
I felt so freaking stupid.
I was pretty sure about the numbers involved (I thought there was a "7", a "2", and a "0", with a decimal point after 3 digits and then one of those numbers repeated after the decimal), but I had no idea about the order of the digits.
Finally I actually had to look it up, which was on par with forgetting how to spell my own name. It was, "OK, I want a head scan and I want it now!"
My most recent screw-up involves my LDN. I was taking my bedtime meds night before last when I came across a little card in the slot that said "Need LDN".
Obviously I should have thought to put that little "Need LDN" reminder card in a slot that I would have seen several days before I ran out, in time to get a refill, instead of on the night when I'd be out already. Oh well, another lesson learned.
Well, hopefully my immune system won't notice the oversight. (Ha! Good luck with that, right?)
The only other time I couldn't get my LDN for a week or so was back in '05, and I wound up with an exacerbation involving a world-class case of labyrinthitis. I literally had to hold my eyeballs still with my fingers! I was left with chronic dizziness.
I'm hoping this week's brain fart won't lead to any permanent drama; meanwhile all I can think of to make more endorphins while I await the refill is to exercise- so I'll go to the gym later to work out....if I can remember to go...
Oh crap, I just realized that they're closed for Labor Day too! (Insert more superfluous cursing referencing feces)
This is not a foolproof system, but at the very least I can say that every screw-up has led to a new innovation and fewer mistakes afterward.
For example, I found it helpful to make little cards with the days of the week on them to put into each little slot, so I can tell at a glance whether or not I've taken my meds yet; otherwise I have no idea. None.
|Bedtime Med Tray|
|Inside the bedtime med tray|
|Morning med tray|
|Inside my morning med tray|
Sometimes in life, whether you have MS or not, whether you have memory problems or not, it helps to think creatively and to be ready to improvise, to let go and go with the flow. I've learned that I can't afford to be too attached to things the way they are; attachment brings even more suffering to MS patients than to most people.
Be flexible. Make plans, but make 'em in pencil.