I know I’ve written about acceptance before..but as the title suggests, I feel I’ve reached another plateau in my journey of memory loss and and cognitive decline: an attitude of more acceptance, characterized by a lack of remorse and even, sometimes, with a tinge of gratitude.
This was clearly apparent to me last week as I returned to the Mayo Clinic for another round of tests in a program called Cogstate, where I’m participating in research designed to follow the progression of memory and cognition in people diagnosed with MCI. Are they better, worse or stable?
I’ve been a participant in this testing for at least 3 or 4 years, and much of the testing is repetitive. One of the repeated tests consists of the instructor reading a list of random words, and then asking me to repeat as many words as I can recall. During another test I might be asked to listen to a story and retell the story to the instructor. Generally, the story is read to me three times. In the past I tried my best, striving to “get a good score”—not wanting to feel a failure if I didn’t think I did well.
But this time, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. All I wanted was to get the tests over and done with.
As expected, I quickly tired of the testing, and my head began to ache. Rather than pushing myself and striving, I reverted to guessing and unfiltered honesty—replying, “I don’t remember,” over and over again. When I had finally reached my limit, I said, “I’m done! No more! I’ve got to stop!”
I felt proud that I had advocated for myself, and was grateful when the tester said “No problem! You did a great job.”
After wrapping up, I left the clinic exhausted, stressed and feeling sorry for myself. On the drive home I silently asked, Why me?…the question that always arises in my brain when I’m tired and worn out. And then as tears fell, I added, I so want to be done.
As we neared home my stress had decreased, and I asked Keith to stop at my favorite ice cream parlor for take-out.
Even as I’m writing this post I’m still feeling the lingering stress, sadness, and questioning, Why me?…and then I remember, Oh yes! I’m helping others (scientists, doctors, psychiatrists, neurologists) learn more about the cause and perhaps a cure, for the mental decline and progression of this disease. I do still matter! I’m making a difference! I’m strong and brave.
And just then a beautiful deer crosses our yard. She stops briefly, looks up at me with her big brown eyes. She nods her head then disappears into the wood.
I am reminded all creatures matter.