Thursday, October 3, 2013

Aortic Dissection Surgery and Short Term Memory Loss

I have been meaning to write several posts about connective tissue issues but every time I sit down with my IPad I seem to have forgotten just what I was going to write about.

Aorta dissection surgery contributed to my short term memory loss

Well, I am going to try and get through this post without forgetting what I actually wanted to tell you.

This is really frustrating, a cry for help from me, mostly to myself.  It is important for me to find ways to cope with not being able to remember things.  For one thing, the dread of 'am I coming down with Alzheimer's Disease' lurks in the not so distant background each time I have an episode of 'I can't remember'.  That means I worry about Alzheimer's Disease many times a day and worry is not something I am supposed to be doing.  Worry causes stress which in turn contributes to hypertension which in turn is not good at all for my seriously weakened and dissected cardiovascular system or the pseudoaneurysm on my coronary artery.

Mostly I deal with my insecurities about the fragility of my heart, arteries, memory, stuttering and connective tissue problems with a blend of persistent but low impact physical therapy and humor.  Certainly it is more palatable for me to joke about my short comings than to deal with ugly defensiveness on my part.  But today I  thought a frank discussion and sharing of experiences coping with forgetfulness would be the best route for me to take.

Sharing with others about one's shortcomings opens up vulnerabilities but in a safe atmosphere can become a healing modality too.  So I am sharing with you today some of the things I can remember enough of about my forgetfulness issues to record here before they disappear into wherever lost memories go.

Ever since I had unexpectedly been subject to two open heart surgeries, one where my heart was on bypass for quite some time, my ascending aorta replaced and a mechanical heart valve installed, I have struggled with short term memory recall.

As a blogger I used to have excellent recall of words.  My mind was part of a walking thesaurus; me. Not anymore though.  Now I keep a tab open to the thesaurus wepage on the computer when writing.

So several times over the past few weeks I've had some seemingly great ideas for a cardiovascular or connective tissue or Marfan post only to arrive at the IMac empty minded.  Sheeez.  That was so frustrating.  I have much to say and share but I just cannot remember what it is I want to say much of the time.

The other day I was leaving a business and headed to the pharmacy to pick up a refill on some my medications.  Exiting the drive I could not figure out which way to turn.  Do I turn to the right? Maybe I turn to the left?  Arrrrgh!  This is happening more and more frequently to me.

Then this week on the way to drop my teen daughter off for her college class where she was having an exam, I became wrought with irritation when I could not get out my answer to her question about the topic she was being tested on.

I wanted to share three very important study points with her.  I had them laid out clearly in my mind but they would not come out of my mouth in the form of words.  As soon as I started to tell her the first then the other two would disappear.  So I stopped and rethought the three facts through again, and once more, as soon as I began to discuss with my daughter the information disappeared from my mental recall folder.

Well, I have been considering this issue and exactly how my brain may have been compromised somewhat with respect to 'embolistic events' as my neurologist calls them, during my surgeries.  I have decided a couple of important things, and they are;
  • I need to stay active physically to keep good blow flow to my brain.
  • Diet is extremely important.  I must do 'brain' foods!
  • Plenty of rest is an important thing to add to my 'to do list'.
  • Daily mental exercises are a must.
  • Stress must be minimized (stop worrying about Alzheimer)
  • Support group interaction and participation (sharing) is required.
  • Creative solutions to improving short term memory are available for my use, and
  • I need to focus and stay away from multi-tasking.
One creative solution I've come up with solves the 'which way do I turn?' dilemma.   Instead of asking myself 'which way do I turn?', I first tell myself where I am headed.  This peels back the layers of a more complex question, simplifying the decision making process from a 'which way do I turn to go where?' to a statement 'I am going to the ...'.  Once I am focused on my destination it is easier to decipher directions.

And I tried this method all this week and it works!

For me, creative solutions to short term memory issues lie within my ability to adapt!  Now, all I have to do is remember these creative solutions from day to day.


Shawn McGuire said...

In this moment I am remembering your vast wealth of knowledge and connection with the plant people. (like no one I have ever met before). I am remembering your devotion and commitment to your family and friends. I am remembering a man full of courage to walk this tough long road and doing it with vulnerability and honesty....allowing us to see your humanness. I am remembering a man that despite diagnostic labels, has risen above them and cries out...MY NAME IS KEVIN.... I am ALIVE...and this is the beauty I see! In this moment I am remembering a man that continues to be an inspiration to me....and when the time comes when my brain can no longer spirit will know that because of has been changed for good. So, Hang in there brother and when you forget...please know that I have not.

Cameron Von St James said...

Hey I have a quick question about your blog, could you email me when you have a chance? Thanks! -Cam

Kevin Songer said...

Cameron - my email is

Nikki said...

Thanks for sharing your experience -- I'm dealing with this and was doing some research to see if others had the same issues after heart surgery. Definitely agree about finding creative options :)