I've started the latest post two or three times in the past week. Thoughts skitter in my mind like raindrops against polished glass. No one thought seems to stay long enough to form into a complete topic worthy of writing about. Thought and one's mind are, on one hand, like breathing, the body has lungs, resulting in breathe. Thoughts and the processes of the brain, on the other hand, give structure and meaning to the very essence of who we are. Brains are essential for the nuance of creating a symphony and the subtle language of writing poetry. Not to mention the humdrum of living, and doing, and being.
Brains are also at the center of multiple sclerosis. One of the first presentations I saw on MS featured chilling slides of brain MRIs with gaping black holes staring out of the squiggly grey matter that is brain. This was the first inkling I had of what my future could be. Once, at an MS community event, a woman in her mid-forties was there with her family. Her mental function was completely gone. She laughed and babbled senselessly. The image of her haunts me to this day.
MS optimists don't like to talk about the 'ugly' side of this illness. The resulting silence leads to fear and questioning. The 'new' disease modifying drugs show efficacy when it comes to preventing 'black holes.' I do take comfort in this as I inject myself day after day for the past 10 years.
And yet, every forgotten appointment, missed deadline, and subtler mental stumble, leads me to question the MS state of my mind. When I hear folks say that it is just part of getting older, I realize that they don't understand the fear I live with or the future I face or the subtle changes that chip away at my abilities. The first one I noticed was years ago. I could hear a phone number over the phone and write it down when the call ended. Something I had always done without alot of thought. I suddenly noticed I had lost this ability. Poof, gone. Just a little chip, not consequential, but still part of who I was.
Lately, the fear is front and center. The pace of loss seems to be increasing.
Intelligence, mood, and persona don't reflect cognition. I am still a smart cookie who is mostly upbeat and outgoing. Cognition and structuralism are defined as:
- cognition: (noun) mental acquisition of knowledge through thought, experience, and the senses.
- structuralism (noun) a method of interpretation and analysis of human cognition, behaviour, culture, and experience, which focuses on relationships of contrast between elements in a conceptual system.