WHAT YOU'LL FIND ON THIS BLOG

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Reasons why Fran takes longer to cook dinner these days

Location: The Hill kitchen.

Him: What are we having?
Me: Roast, with those leftover thingies from yesterday, with a bit of .. you know ...
Him: Mash?
Me: Yes, mashed potato which I thought I'd mix with some ... some wotsit from the fridge
Him: What, the butternut .. er ... stuff?
Me: Yep. Can you hand me the silver thingybob?
Him: This sieve thing?
Me: The colander. That's it. Colander.
Him: Do you want me to ... to ... sort out the whatjamacallthems?
Me: Yes, please. Can you ...
Him: Peel them?
Me: I'll do the oojamaflips.
Him: Okay.
Me: Give me one of those knife thingies.
Him: A knife?
Me: Yes, that one, next to the one we use for chopping all the ... you knows.
Him: Vegetables. Shall I check that the ... er .. the roast ... the roast... meat ... is cooked?
Me: Yup. Shall I do some thingy sauce, with those Bramley wotsits from the ... you know, the allotment?

And on it goes, the Litany of Vagueness that emits now from our thinning, ageing lips as we prepare dinner. I'm nearly fifty-five, he's sixty, but together our brains have a combined age of nine hundred and eighty-seven, especially when it comes to naming objects.

I fear we are regressing to the 'pointing' stage of 8 month old babies when *extend finger towards banana* means 'please give me that banana to eat or I'll scream like a broken siren until I'm spent.'

But if we cook dinner together via pointing, we could still be there at midnight, by which time we'd give up the struggle, throw the whatjamacallits back in the oojamaflips and the meatystuff back in the coldthingy and go to bed hungry.

Anxious about my erratic memory, I've completed myriad do-you-have-early-dementia Internet quizzes, googling 'Why don't I know the word apple?' although the problem isn't, in fact, not remembering. It's not remembering in time, the moment you need the memory. As a teacher, this is especially frightening. Simple facts land on the tip of my tongue and then dissolve like sherbet. 'Right, then, class. Let's get back to Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare's characterisation of Romeo's friend .... his friend .... his friend ... ('Mercutio, Miss? The one you taught the lesson about yesterday?')

I haven't yet said, 'Right, then, class. Back to Romeo and Jeanette.' But I have anxiety dreams about doing so.

The most I've ever scored on the dementia quizzes, though, is 2 out of 10. One of the questions is usually 'Do you easily get lost even though you are on familiar territory?' but I've been doing that since I was eleven, turning left instead of right, right instead of left, and flipping my A to Z upside-down, right-way-up, inside-out in an attempt to orientate myself. These days there are navigation apps for one's phone, but that would mean learning to use it, and when do I have time for committing that to memory while I'm busy wandering the streets, looking for destinations?

Don't think I'm poking fun at memory loss. It's a scary thing - I see it frustrating my 94 year old grandmother who can remember the names of childhood friends and TV programmes she watched in the 70s, but not my face until I get up close and say 'It's me. Fran.' And I have a friend my husband's age with early onset dementia who can no longer remember how to cook the Bakewell tart which lured people to her house on Sundays drooling like those big dogs with flappy jowls.

My only comfort is that perhaps my own memory loss is a temporary, menopause-linked symptom. Maybe when I'm the other side of the menopause, I'll suddenly remember everything I forgot and will stand in the kitchen yelling with joy: 'Pork! Butter! Colander! Egg! Spoon! Whisk! Carrots! Onions! Carving knife! Mercutio!'

That might alarm my husband, though, who would rather have me with some memory loss than a kind of kitchen-linked Tourettes.


'I've made you this delicious pie, dear. Give me a minute and I'll tell you what I put in it.'


I was reassured at a quiz night on Friday when I helped my team out with several questions in the Literature round after squeezing my eyes shut and praying to my own brain not to let me down. I needed the encouragement: last year's quiz night saw me covering my face with my hands while everyone looked my way, touchingly sure that I'd know the name of a Steinbeck book or remember who wrote the Barchester Chronicles within the space of ten seconds. 'Sorry, sorry, sorry,' was all I had to offer as we left the spaces blank. As soon as we'd given in our answer sheet, I remembered the information. This wasn't a comfort to my teammates.

On Friday, though, we came sixth out of twelve teams. Things are on the up. Tomorrow, when I cook the dinner, perhaps I'll even say, 'Please pass me the whisk' without a hint of hesitation ...

... at which point my husband will say, 'Now, which thingybob do we keep the whisk in?'




22 comments:

  1. You may have lost your memory, but not your ability to make me laugh, for which I am thankful.

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    1. Thanks, Aggie. When I lose the chance to make people laugh, I am finished. It's my Best Thing.

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  2. Hi Fran.... I can relate to what you are saying here.... we all have memory problems in my house... which makes for strange conversations.

    As long as you remember to blog, I'll be happy xxxx .. Barb xxx

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    1. Thanks, Barb! Your house sounds like ours. Lots of mishearings and misunder ... misunder ... misunderthingies.

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  3. It's like a dance you and your husband cooking together. I stood in the kitchen alone cooking a roast last evening. All Hell let lose when I lose my temper & the other three family members were reminded that there were in fact four of us eating dinner.

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  4. It's not your memory...it's your timing that's off.

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    1. Do I have permission to use this as an official excuse?

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  5. Oh good! I thought it was just me .

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  6. I might have to blog about this too! I keep saying I should wear a FitBit - the miles I walk back into the room where I was before I forgot what I wanted!

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    1. Such a good idea. Make the most of it! Literally one minute before I saw your comment I'd said to my husband, 'Remind me why I said I needed to check my emails?' Fortunately, he was having a good-memory five minutes and knew.

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  7. You might enjoy this from one of my old posts:

    FISHDUCKY THEORY OF MEMORY
    Are you familiar with the fishducky theory as to why our memory seems to disappear as we age? If not, don’t worry. I’m going to tell you. What was I talking about? Oh, yes—memory. If you subscribe to the theory, as I do, that the brain is like a computer, then you know that it has a finite number of memory bytes. As we age, gravity pulls these memories down, filling first our feet, then our legs, our bellies & butts (which would also explain why many older people seem to have gained weight in these areas) & finally reach our brains, which eventually become full. Since humans don’t have a DELETE key, there is simply no room for new memories. This is why we people “of a certain age” can remember who sat next to us in the third grade but have no idea of what we ate for lunch yesterday. We are NOT forgetful—WE ARE SIMPLY FULL!!

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    1. This is totally logical and explains a LOT of things, butt-related and otherwise. x

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  8. Haha! This literally is us. Well, me and sometimes Him. Love it. ☺️ And I do that thing in class too when I'm talking about characters from the book we're studying. Luckily at primary level you can say things like, 'So when... who can tell me the name of the main character?' They are too young to notice (probably). This post really made me laugh out loud.

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    1. I may switch to primary if things get any worse ... :(

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  9. Yes, I know. This was just starting to happen to me before I retired. I would embark on a sentence such as, "Now, this is a very important figure of speech which you need to learn to pass your Higher English. It's called..." - pause while I look dramatically out of the window to distract the classes attention and give me time to remember the word "hyperbole" (or whatever). There's a certain poetic form that I've known all my life and kept briefly forgetting. And I've forgotten it now - oh, got it. Villanelle. Sigh. I haven't really got anyone to tell about villanelles now, though.

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    1. There's always the Samaritans. I'm sure if you rang them and said 'I really really want to tell someone about villanelles,' they would be happy to listen. Or you could just ring me. I'm not sure if I can remember what they are .....

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    2. I can't believe that I typed "the classes attention"!!!!!!!!!! Arggggghhhhh!!! "Class's". I shall now shoot myself. I blame dementia.

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    3. I honestly didn't notice it. Bring two guns.

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  10. Oh yes. Me too, all the time. You know that thing that you use to mash potatoes? In our house, it's known as an Isher Basher. This came about entirely because of one of those moments. Do you find yourself making scissoring motions with your fingers when you're looking for the snippy things?
    Another great post, Fran. Thank you.

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    1. Absolutely the scissoring motions! And the whisk motions ... and the masher motions! Thanks for your comment, Helen, and for reading. Appreciated :)

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