Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Brain

I haven't written for several months. I had started on a killer exercise program, because I always thought exercise cured everything. Sort of.  But I semi-sabotaged my workouts and my schedule by once-again signing up to teach more English classes than I had either the energy or the mental sharpness to manage. Now my stand-up comic routine is in jeopardy. Oh, my professor approval ratings remained high, and I conquered THE HILL every morning on my walk. But inside my brain, changes we can't define or diagnose yet threaten everything.

Not meaning to be overly dramatic, I have started having memory lapses--bad ones.  I have caught myself in the middle of a lecture forgetting what the topic was. By early evening, I am several degrees of useless, and I can no longer teach evening classes, which were once my favorite.Last Spring semester, it became somewhat of a distraction that my Monday night class [American Literature] and my Thursday night class [Persuasive Writing]  started getting each other's assignments and, worse, pieces of the wrong lecture.

Now the detective work starts. Fortunately, my neurology team at Vanderbilt is the best there is.  So the tests start soon, and they include a sleep study and memory tests, as we try to figure out if this is Parkinson's-related [I can't say this word easily] dementia or some form of PD memory loss, some other brain problem that might be associated with hitting 65, or colossal fatigue resulting from 40 years of a professional rat race that's about to crash down to a retirement this workaholic never seriously planned.

At this point, my goal is mental and physical exercise, both recommended for Parkinson's patients and virtually everyone else.  While I take the tests and talk with my neurologists, I will document the journey here, but I cannot yet recommend any particular web sites or resources for memory loss and Parkinson's. This is my journey, but maybe it well help others.

For courage in this battle and strength to keep running and studying, I have to look no further than 168 miles east to Knoxville and  University of Tennessee Lady Vols Head Coach Pat Summitt, who, at age 59, has announced that she is suffering from dementia.  There might be significant organic differences, but her story struck a chord: last season, this pioneer of women's sports forgot some of her basketball plays.  My playbook is a Norton Anthology of American Literature, but I forgot what I was teaching in the middle of the game too.

To my family, friends, colleagues, students,  fellow PD people, and anyone concerned with memory loss, please be patient with me, help me document the journey, and maybe we will all learn a little more about this wondrous brain.

1 comment:

  1. Sending you prayers and good vibes as you face new challenges head-on. We'll walk it with you and learn from your words of wisdom!