26/ Memory

The medical and palliative care staff that I’ve encountered throughout this illness have been many and extraordinary people.  They do care.  Can’t find words adequate for singing their praise and my gratitude. 

(For the love of Mike give them whatever they need to better their living conditions, work conditions, conditions for progression routes for further training and professional development, in this country. In every country. Now. Immediately.)  

In all of my interactions with them I’ve had only one experience of the kind, “Are you losing your memory, dear?”  The young woman leaning down towards me as she spoke, presumably because also I might be losing my hearing, possibly eyesight, too.  Her large glasses loomed at me.  Her face a set mask of professional compassion. I and all about me were a tick on her list.

I can’t recall what prompted her question.  (Maybe losing my marbles after all - but I won’t be letting on yet.  No way, José!)  The question is a tricky one.  Metaphysical almost. My memory is my selfhood.  My personal identity.  It’s how I know who I am after taking a nap.

I’ve been pondering the question and worrying about how best to respond ever since. Still at a loss how to answer. We’re told the normal functioning, the accuracy and capacity, of memory progreesively decays over time. What happens to ‘me’ then? Where does ‘I’ go? Perhaps I’ll find out when I’m a bit older.

The latest development in my personal journey is that lesions have been detected at multiple sites on my brain.  I’ve undergone a dose of radiotherapy.  The disease and the treatment between them have an unpredictable effect.  Eyesight, the limbic system, memory?...

I’ll keep you posted.


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