As you may have gathered I have Multiple Sclerosis. One of the symptoms of MS that is not talked about openly, is the loss of cognitive function. It is much easier to focus on the not being able to walk bit, or the blind bit. Personally the cognitive bit is the most frightening to me.
For me the damage manifests in various ways. The most annoying is dysphasia/asphasia which results in me having periods where I cannot form the words for things even though I can see/hear them in my head. Tip of the tongue syndrome is how I describe it. Mostly around nouns.
My struggle to find the word is often amusing to my friends, and I know EXACTLY how a small child feels when you are trying to make yourself understood, and it is just not happening. I haven’t hit the tantrum chucking stage, but black anger sometimes does ooze up from the bottom of my frustration. Mostly I make fun of myself and accuse them of “picking on the gimp”.
Frustrating also is the effect that has had on my writing skills. I have written all my life, and sometimes even been paid for it. In recent years I have been aware of gaps that have appeared in my vocabulary. Much of my writing now is filled with XXXX, my placeholder symbol for a word that I cannot remember. Grammar too, has taken a beating and I must proofread my work several times to ensure I am not expressing myself in the language of the 5 year old. Tense is a bitch!
This is all very depressing. I choose not to be depressed about it, but to do something.
I chose to check around the internet about new neuroscience research. Fascinating stuff and truly inspirational to those of us that grew up with the old “the brain cannot regenerate after damage” which sets up that mindset that what is done to your mind, is permanent. It ain’t.
I believe that just like the six million dollar man, you can rebuild what you have lost. Unlike the six million dollar man it can’t be done over night, and no bionics are available yet. The solution is all through working what you have, to gain back what you had. It takes a while.
What i am doing is reading, writing and speaking as often as possible. Sounds pretty obvious, but yes practice will help rebuild the destroyed neural pathways.
As I am an internet hermit (spending just about all of my spare time shoving information into my head) reading gets a super work out. Though in the past I have been lazy and just went to StumbleOn videos, a habit that now is a treat rather than a daily occurence.
Writing is dead easy too, the blog, content for sites and forum posting. All great work-outs for the burnt out bits.
I also enjoy exercising the left side of my brain through playing logic games such as online Mahjong.When I first started playing I was useless. I would spend ages staring at the tiles trying to make sense of the links. My brain at times would be overwhelmed by the stacks of tiles (hahah mahjong joke there) and freeze up. I would have to away and do something else till I could have another go. Now I have improved out of sight, and only feel sometimes that my focus is on the right side of the board.
Give me a couple of years and I hope to have negated the damage and if I am ultra lucky, no more will have developed.