The Encyclopedia of Brain Disorders – And Some Odd Observations about My Mom

The Encyclopedia of the Brain and Brain Disorders

p65 – 68 discusses types of dementia, including reversible/ curable dementia.

Interesting to note is that page 65 indicates that dementia typically begins with memory loss, with patients asking the same question over and over again. This was not the case with my mom. Just another characteristic of her condition that is way off from the typical manifestation of dementia.  In her case, it all began with disorientation, confusion, and speech difficulties – all of which were intermittant, appearing and disappearing over months. Memory failure was seen in her much further on after these other symptoms appeared, and the memory failure was quite gradual, beginning with certain details of her life just vanishing while other remained completely intact. For instance, when she was in her 2o’s she lived in New York City as well as Churchill, Manitoba.  Suddenly one day she had absolutely no recollection she had ever lived in New York – it was like amnesia set in specifically regarding that one snippet of her life. “I did?”  she asked, incredulously when I mentioned this to her in the spring of 2010. Yet she still had perfect recall of living in Churchill just a few years either prior or following that (I don’t know where she lived first).

Interestingly, there was a period in 2010 when she wasnt quite sure who I was. She didnt really realize I was her daughter. She knew the house I lived in, and could describe it. Suddenly I’d become “that gal who lives in that big house on the corner”.  She thought I had children, boys (I didnt have any kids).  And yet now, 4 years later, she is practically reduced to an infant and much of what she says is complete jibberish (not real words and meaningless sentences). And yet, in talking to me she will easily refer to me as Linda. She greets me by name often, and refers to me by name in taking to others (often the rest of the sentence makes no sense, but is punctuated by Linda, Linda, Linda… I am told.

Now how can these be when 4 years ago, when still living independently, going out the store on her own, knowing how to speak, dress, bathe, use a telephone… all that normal stuff, she didnt know who I was for a while, or what my name was?

As another example… My husband Chris…. when she sees him she is still able to greet him by name. And yet… In fall 2010 he was doing some work in her back yard for her, and she told me she didnt know who he was. She said she “looked out the widow and wondered, Who’s that big tall guy out there?”.  I told her it was Chris. She said she didnt know who that was. I said my husband – her son-in-law. She said “I dont think I’ve ever seen him before”.  But here we are 4 years later, and she is reduced to an infant… and yet for the last 2 years solid she’s knows him by name. There was a spell of about 6 months in early 2013 when she stopped using his name, and then resumed again in April 2013 (after being released from 4 weeks in the hospital where she nearly bled to death from a gastric issue) continuing almost up to this day. In the last couple months she has been using his name less and less.

One more example – her sister Bernice (bea, auntie bea)…  She is one of 3 people who my mom still recognizes and can refer to by name to this day. However, again, back in 2010, when to most outside observers my mom appeared perfectly normal, she had lost comprehension of who she was. She didnt remember her name, or who she was in relation to my mom. Mom referred to her as “You know, that gal who comes around here all the time”.

And yet, now, and last year, and the year before, in her greatly diminished state, where much of what she says is babble… she knows her by name when she sees her for a visit, and also refers to her a lot when she isnt present. Sometimes she even can identify her as “my sister” when she sees her.



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