So it seems that I recently earned myself a new nickname: Dory. The Dory that is my namesake is the delightful, yet very forgetful fish from “Finding Nemo” and of course its sequel, “Finding Dory”. No offence to you, Ellen, but if I were to choose to model myself around an animated character, Dory would not make my top ten list. I envision myself as more of a smoking hot Jessica Rabbit, a dignified and regal Pocohontas, or even a smart and sassy Lois Griffin. But Dory? Come on! You know I can do better than that!
Ok, so I guess you are wondering HOW I earned the nickname. Well, I guess it is pretty obvious. I forget stuff. Not just the normal stuff that people forget, like the names of colleagues, friend’s birthdays or the whereabouts of keys, but big stuff, like entire conversations and the whereabouts of my car. You may be thinking, “Who doesn’t forget where they parked their car from time to time!” That’s not what I mean. What I mean is, I almost called the cops once and reported my car stolen because I forgot that I had loaned it to my daughter the night before.
I was pretty excited when my sister, Lessy, told me that she was coming home from Alberta to visit. I was equally as excited the second time she told me, the third time she told me, and even the fourth time she told me. That’s when I earned my nickname. “Mom, for God sakes, you have the memory of Dory”, said my daughter, Kaitlyn, “That is the fourth time that Aunt Lessy has told you that she is coming to visit, and each time you act as if you are hearing it for the first time!” That’s because it IS like I am hearing it for the first time.
It has gotten so bad that my carpool partner, Khyla, has made a sign that says, “Heard it before!”, which she pulls out from under her seat and flashes at me each time I begin to repeat a story.
Many times my partner, Steve, has made the comment, “Flo I’m getting worried about you,” whenever I repeat a question that he has already answered about a dozen times. And then there are the embarrassing times at work when I fail to remember details of conversations. I once thought that one of my colleagues was psychic because she could name the very book that was sitting on my night stand at home. Not only did I forget that we had discussed the book the day before, but I was also oblivious to the fact that she is a member of my book club! Don’t even ask me her name.
I am proud to say that I have come up with some pretty ingenious ways of getting around my memory deficits. For example, remembering passwords used to be a real pain in the ass for me. So I changed all of my passwords to the word “incorrect.” That way, I am guaranteed a reminder each time I mess up: “Your password is incorrect.” I also find it useful to write little reminders on the back of my hand. Not only do these markings remind me that I have to do something, but trying to figure out what the abbreviations mean has turned into a great game between me and my kids.
“Hey Donovan, I have the letters b.b. written on the back of my hand. Any idea what that might mean?”
“Yeah, that’s it, I need to pick up some black beans on the way home from work. Thanks!”
Another strategy that has served me well is one I call “fake a memory”. It goes something like this:
Kaitlyn: Mom, what movie would you like to watch on Netflix tonight?
Me: I’ve been dying to see “Daddy’s Home”, let’s watch that.
Kaitlyn: Mooooom! We watched that last month.
Me: Oh riiiiiggghttt! I remember now (barefaced lie). It’s the one about the dad who comes home. Yeah, we watched it together, I remember.
I also have a little technique, which is similar to “fake a memory” in which I actually pull the desired information from the person I am talking to. It goes something like this:
Steve: Hey Flo, where would you like to go for dinner tonight?
Me: How about Oliver’s? We haven’t been there in ages.
Steve: We were there just last week. Don’t you remember?
Me: Ha ha (nervous laugh). Of course I remember. We had that delicious little appetizer.
Steve: Right, bruschetta.
Me: Yeah, I really enjoyed that bruschetta. And you ordered the special. (He usually does)
Steve: I sure did. The cod was delicious.
Me: Of course, I over-did it on the wine again. (Pretty safe guess there)
Steve: Thank God you remember. I was starting to get worried about you!
I know it is normal to get more forgetful with age and wine consumption, but my sketchy memory was becoming really worrisome. After watching the movie, “Still Alice”, I had myself convinced that I was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s when I started to talk to some of my survivor sisters at my breast cancer support group and I learned that many of them are dealing with the same issue. We have the memory robbing culprits narrowed down to two things: chemo-brain and Tamoxifen (a drug I take to reduce the chances of having a cancer recurrence).
Despite the fact that both chemo and Tamoxifen have debilitating side effects, not the least of which is memory loss and cognitive impairments, they also have another, more desirable side effect: Life. While I am a firm believer in natural, complementary and holistic approaches to treating cancer, I also have faith in conventional treatments. Chemo destroyed the cancer cells that were invading my body, while Tamoxifen and my lifestyle changes have kept the cancer from coming back (at least to this point in time). So the benefits for me outweigh the side effects. Besides, despite my memory problems, I am enjoying life to the fullest. Right now, for example, I am over the moon with excitement! My sister, Lessy just called to tell me that she is coming home for a visit. YAY! I can’t wait to tell Kaitlyn the good news!