The deficit in my brain after the stroke? Short term memory. (Thank you thalamus!) The first couple days after my stroke, my mind was like a sieve–I could barely remember what doctors had told me five minutes after they’d left the room. “What did they say they think I have?” I’d ask my husband.
And for the tenth time he’d stifle a sigh and say, “Vas-cu-li-tis. They think you have vasculitis.”
“Oh, okay,” I would say, content, as the word and information faded. Ten minutes later, I’d forgotten what they thought I’d had. For some reason, when they said I’d had a stroke a couple days into my hospital stay, THAT really stuck in my brain. “Oh, I had a stroke! But honey? What did they think I had before they found out I had a stroke?”
For the twentieth time he’d stifle a sigh and say, “Vas-cu-li-tis. They thought you had vasculitis.”
My biggest deficit due to the stroke, is verbal short term memory. I score below average in this particular area of brain function.
That means, if you tell me a story, I will probably not remember much of it afterwards. That means if you tell me a list of things I need to do, I will probably not remember that list at all. That means music is just background music. That means books on tape are impossible. That means I’m really glad I’m not in school this semester because so much of classroom instruction is verbal (and involves short term memory).
That means that things literally go in one ear and out the other. It was hell in the hospital trying to remember what everyone was TELLING ME. That is, until one of the therapists told me to start writing stuff down in my notebook. So these days, I am constantly jotting down notes and obsessively (okay, more obsessively) taking picture of things, because my visual short term memory is a bit better than my verbal short term capacity. That means if I SEE something, there is a better chance I’ll remember these short term things than if I HEAR it.
Plus uh, if it’s written down, I can just look at whatever I wrote and “remember” it again.
My husband tells me I wasn’t really very good at verbal short term to begin with, he claims it was my weakest brain function. That’s true–I’d say it was really hard for me to remember what people had told me, and maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to figure out song lyrics. Or ahem, maybe I’m just not a good listener (probably the most accurate assessment) and nothing was wrong with my verbal short term memory).
But I’d like to think I remembered stuff a little longer than what is now about an hour or so.