I can believe I haven’t thought of this before (i.e. remembered) while trying to empathize with Ralph’s cognitive impairment, but I have actually experienced a similar discombobulating state of memory loss myself: a short spell of amnesia years ago after falling 10 feet down from a filled hay wagon:
I was helping Ralph gather up bales in the field of our farm. The last thing I remember is how sticky, itchy miserable I was standing at the very top of five layers of hay bales in the old Chevy truck-bed as I declared to Ralph that I would never help him bring in the hay again.
Then I was lying on the ground, or so I’ve been told.
For the next few days I continually asked Ralph to remind me the basic facts about our lives. I don’t know what the exact questions were, but I do remember continual foggy confusion and jagged moments of panic, then the enormous relief as facts returned to my consciousness.
Now Ralph lives with what is probably a more difficult mix of confusion and panic on a regular basis and there’s no relief in sight. While his daily menu of donezepil, namenda and lexapro keeps him stable for the time being, he knows damn well there’s no real cure, that his lost facts are not going to miraculously return.
Meanwhile, my memory in most areas–not counting names, numbers and my car keys–is relatively sharp.
What makes me nervous is an article I read that people with a history of concussions are prone to memory loss as they age. I have also read, somewhere else, the worrying possibility that Alzheimer’s spouses are more likely to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s themselves.
I would offer a link to those articles here, if I could only remember where I found them.