In one ear, out the other…


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.



Filed under Life, The Stroke

5 responses to “In one ear, out the other…

  1. Jade…I am more a visual person too. I have to really concentrate to remember things that I need to. Writing them down is a great way to remember. Of course, you need to remember where you keep that black notebook. That would be something I would forget – is where I put it! If you were single, I’d say you made the transition to marriage really well. Most married (guys in particular) have the same problem you describe. They (and I include myself) forget lots. I am not wanting to minimize what you are going through because what you have is likely many times magnified. Hopefully, you will regain everything, or most everything over time. And that is the frustrating part – waiting until it comes back.

    I applaud your writing about your experiences and your willingness to share with us who read your blog. Just know you have our wishes and prayers for a total and speedy recovery.

  2. I love how you write everything down in a notebook. I am a very scattered person to begin with, and I use the notebook method to try to manage my a.d.d. (attension deficit disorder) I also try to put clutter into compartments before it gets the better of me.

    In this way, you post-stroke is like me–all the time.

  3. w

    Oh no, sorry for recommending!

  4. w–oh still i thank you for it, because when i get better, i will be sure to visit!

  5. Pingback: i can’t hear you « Writing Under a Pseudonym

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