Monday, May 20, 2013

Aortic Dissection and Short Term Memory Loss - Mind Mapping Therapy!

What was I going to write about?
Aortic Dissection & Short Term Memory Loss, Mind MappingTherapy

Yes, short term memory problems haunt me like....uhhhh, I forgot.

Long term memory is sharp as ever.  Just ask me about my childhood!

However, short term memory problems are a writer and lawyer's curse!!!  I mean who wants to read an article where thought continuity is lacking.  And who especially wants a lawyer who can't remember what to say!!!

While the doctors had my heart on by-pass for eight or so hours and my entire body temperature lowered to thirty four degrees there were as the neurologist says embolistic events occurring.  I suspect this means small air bubbles making their way into my brain, or other stroke-like happenings, ischemic or otherwise.

The diagnosis is now 'cognitively challenged'.  Thank God I have Marfan Syndrome because according to the South African Marfan Syndrome Organization scientists, Marf's have above average IQ's.  So I will take that extra IQ and mitigate the short term memory loss, hopefully.

However short term memory loss (STML - hey, the brain is like a computer....) is extremely, extremely, extremely frustrating.  I am sick and tired of people blurting out 'well, I told you...", or 'don't you remember that....",  because no, no, no...I do not remember.

And it gets worse when I am under pressure.  Simple things, like ordering one of those very delicious Publix sub sandwiches that make your mouth water so much you have a hard time swallowing all the drool, makes me stutter and stand in front of the deli worker, speechless when she asks what I want to order.  I should have written the order down.  And it gets worse when she raises her strange looking emo eyebrows with anticipation of my answer while those drooling people standing in line behind me began fidgeting.

Drooling is one of my embolistic event results I struggle with anyway.  But my higher than average IQ has cued me in on ways to hide the quick wipe swipe and find a place to dry my hand without being noticed.

Or when I am on the phone with someone from Craigslist who is selling something that Judy and I know would be perfect for the Florida Urban Permaculture Garden and the seller says, "you know where this or that road is, right?"  Seems like the emphasis is always on 'right?'

No!  I don't remember!  And it is OK I don't remember. It is not my fault my brain doesn't work as smoothly as yours.  But I don't say any of these words.  Usually it is a slow smile that emerges, with the stomach ache inside.

So I try to do mental therapy, like writing, hopefully to help improve my STML.  But word recall is extremely difficult for me now.  Even with my memory challenges, I know that I don't know at least half of the words I used to be able to make appear through my fingertips on the computer screen, even before I knew what to type.

Today with my brain engaged in the non-normal path, the thesaurus is such a great help and my solution to mixing up the words, no pun intended.

But one of the most useful tools I have found in my search for my lost short term memory is something called 'mind-mapping'.  Though not new to the world, mind-mapping is a new concept for me, pulling reason out from the foggy swamp of murky word recall and thrusting idea organization into the world once more full of reason and light!  Ha!

I use MindNode on the IPad to help me organize everything from to do lists of complexity, outlines, journals and other jumbles of thoughts, ideas and words.  LifeHacker has a great post on their top five mind-mapping programs, that I found very informative and helpful.

Mind-mapping is really just a list of ideas put on paper or the computer in an organized fashion for recall at a later time.  The reason I like the IPad apps for mind-mapping is because they allow you to easily add to, adjust, change the order of or otherwise organize your ideas.  The outline for a book would be a perfect example of how mind-mapping could assist anyone, but certainly be of great value to the mentally challenged.

One important tip here.  Do not procrastinate.  Never tell yourself you'll add a great idea to the MindMap later.  Add the idea while the thought is fresh and alive.  How many times have I run to get a glass of water or do something really quick only to return to the MindMap just to forget what my great idea was.

I am disabled.  There is no other way around that acknowledgment.  My word recall sucks.  I slur my sentences from time to time, some days being worse than others.  Maybe it is the beta-blockers or the other med myriad pills or something biological in my brain.

But I'll take anything that can help me cope with the short term memory loss.

Mind-mapping is an awesome tool you should check out!


  1. This sounds like me to a "T". I've had 5 open heart surgeries due to Marfan and they all averaged around 10-16hours. I'm so glad you put into words what I feel and how others make me feel. Thanks so much!

  2. I am happy to hear these I enjoyed this article and I found it helpful. Memory loss is a complicated issue for elderly individuals. Thanks for sharing.

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