Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 4, 2012

Around the Town: Menopause brain affecting my memory

By Jan Boston Sellers
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — I now have what I officially call “menopause brain.” I can’t remember at times even the most trivial of things. Other times, I have absolutely no problem recalling names, stories, etc., as easily as a computer would. Unfortunately, the forgetting is more common than the remembering.

For example, the other day, I was trying to remember what a cantaloupe was called. I knew what it looked like; knew it was a fruit; knew it was orange and had kind of a scaly exterior, but for the life of me I couldn’t recall the name. Conversely, our minister asked how old Joseph was when his brothers sold him into slavery and I knew immediately the answer was seventeen. One would think I could easily remember a cantaloupe and struggle with the age of a biblical character when he was sold into slavery since one is talked about more often than the other. But not in this brain which often feels as if it belongs to someone else.

Our friends and we have decided that memory is the reason we have to travel in packs to Sunday lunch, ballgames, dinners or movies: it takes all of us to tell a story. Our conversations often go like this: “Oh you remember the guy that used to teach at so and so and he had the wife with the beautiful blonde hair” at which someone will jump in and yell the first name: “Jim!” After a few more “clues” and minutes of silence as we try to retrieve the second name someone will finally blurt out, rather proudly, the last name is “Smith.” Often by the time we play three rounds of “what is the person’s name” we have forgotten the reason we brought them up in the first place.  Normally, by the time we have finished eating, watching the game, or whatever, we actually manage to finish one story. The next time we are together…it begins all over again.

When I talk about short and long term memory with my Roane State psychology students, I often show a clip from the animated film “Finding Nemo.” I like for my students to see this video piece because there is a character named Dorrie voiced by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres who has extreme, short term memory loss.  I often feel exactly like Dorrie.

I walk into rooms and forget why I went into the room. I ask a question, not realizing I just asked it, or I ask the question and immediately forget the answer.

Another thing I noticed I do is make up new words or combine words or use the first letter of the correct word but the wrong word. Someone asked me the other day at church where Michael was. I tried to say “Michael is at the Titans game.” What actually erupted from my mouth was “Mitan.”

Also, for example, if I am trying to say the word “letter” I may say “long.” I use a word that starts with the right letter but makes no sense in the sentence.

Lastly, and probably the most frustrating of all in regards to my memory, is my absolute and utter lack of recall when it comes to people’s names. I am absolutely horrible. I have thousands of students each month in class at the various county schools. I can see one of them out and about in town and tell you what school they go to, what seat he/she sits in and what period I have them in class. But ask me their names? I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it. As a remedy, I often make up little stories that will help me remember someone’s name but all too often…those stories make it worse. We once met a couple whose last name was Price. The husband looked like Drew Carey on the Game Show the “Price is Right.”  So, I decided that will be easy to remember: I will associate their last name with the game show and I will recall it easily. The next time I saw them? I called them the Careys.  Again, right show: wrong association.

Then there was the time I went to the store for bleach, apples and gas. Association? BAG. I came home with a new pocketbook…

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Someone will be “King of the Mountain” after this week’s clash between the Cumberland County High School Jets and the Stone Memorial Panthers. The two teams square off on Friday night on Panther Field. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children will benefit from a Demolition Derby at the Complex on Saturday night. The action starts at 6:30 p.m. There are three classes: 4 cylinder; Stock V8 and Modified. Cash prices will be awarded to first through third place in each category. For additional information, contact Scott at 931-261-3814, Robbye at 931-261-1311 or Judy at 931-267-6559. Admission is $10 and all proceeds will go to the work on behalf of abused and neglected children.