Deb Brandon: Living in Radiant Color

Is This It?

March 12:
On the phone to my mother.
“Happy birthday.”
She sounds puzzled. “It’s not my birthday.”
Well of course it’s her birthday—when I set up the call on Skype, the announcement popped up. But then I notice that it is a couple of days off for some reason. Mum’s birthday was on the 14th. Or was it the 15th? I wonder how Skype could mess that up.
I shrug mentally. “Soon. An early happy birthday.”
“A year early?!”
Now I am confused. What does she mean? But then it hits me: her birthday is in February, and this is March. Perhaps I haven’t used Skype in a month and the announcement has been sitting there all this time, since Mum’s birthday.
March 13, afternoon:
I look at my calendar to see what I have lined up for Monday. I have a meeting at 11:30, then office hours, then class. And… oh, yes—Chris is coming to my office to work on the sound effects for the audio thingy.
But wait. At the top of the page, “Annual Report” in boldface. Crap. Wasn’t that due a month ago. Wait. I already worked on it. Why is it on my calendar? Didn’t I hand it in yet? There must be a detail missing. How could I have left it this long?
Then I realize: not the departmental annual report, the one for the summer grant. Whew!
March 13, evening:
Out of the blue I remember that I need to put together a list of speakers for the summer program. I calm myself down—it must have just started, so I still have a couple of days to scramble. But I can’t remember it starting. How can I not remember? It always starts at the end of May, and this is… March. Oh. I have plenty of time.
March 13, nighttime:
I lie in bed, unable to sleep, recalling these three incidents. Has anything else happen that I don’t remember? Is this early onset dementia? I’ve known for a while that, as a brain injury survivor, I’m at high risk for early onset dementia. But this is too early. I have too much to do.
How long will it take for me to reach a point when I don’t function at a decent level? Should I quit my job? Should I cancel my summer plans? But what about the books? It would be nice to have at least one published before I’m completely gaga. I’ll have to put everything I have into my writing—this is a race against time. I’ll also have to talk to my editor, Judy.
March 14:
Is this it? Is this a race against time? Or is this just a blip? Possibly due to fatigue? These last couple of weeks have been crazy. I hope it’s just a blip. But what if it’s not? What if this is just the beginning? What do I do? Should I start thinking about quitting my job? Is this where suicide ideation comes in? Should I be concerned by the fact that the word suicide just popped into my head?
What about the kids? And my parents? And Cindy? And Joyce? Will I have to go on disability? When?
I need to calm down. One step at a time.

  1. Speak to Joyce—she told me not to worry. “You’re exhausted.” It didn’t help.
  2. Speak to Cindy—she told me to take a deep breath, which helped. She looked up symptoms of early onset dementia—I have many of those alreadybecause of the bloody brain.
  3. Talk to my shrink–I’ve got an appointment with her tomorrow.
  4. Contact my neuropsychologist–the results from the post-brain-surgery cognitive testing could help determine what’s going on. If anything is going on.
  5. Go from there.

One step at a time.