A lot of people asked me the last few months what memory problems really meant in my daily life when I told them that I have memory problems. When most people hear about memory deficits or memory problems, they just tend to think about trivial things like forgetting what they ate yesterday. Of course, I prefer to remember what I ate yesterday, especially if it was something delicious. But there are symptoms secondary to memory deficits that most people probably don’t think about at first glance. Although some of those symptoms were much more pronounced at first or have already disappeared, they are:
Repetitions or perseverations: This is one of the loudest ones. Following what I read, it seems to be very common in people with frontal lobe region damage. Sometimes I did or said something but, after some time, it came to my mind again but, as I couldn’t remember I already did or said it, I repeated it (sometimes just seconds after doing or saying it first). I seem to remember feeling very embarrassed at first when people told me I was repeating myself. I also know it was very tiring for people who were with me some hours a day (my wife, for example), but I couldn’t really do anything to avoid that.
Confabulations: Another flashy one. As I had gaps in my memory, my mind tried to fill those gaps, and sometimes it just filled them with more or less random information (ok, I admit you can call them inventions, if you prefer). Of course, I didn’t do it consciously, so I wasn’t aware they weren’t real. For example, the first weeks after the main surgery, I didn’t seem to remember my grandmother’s death, so it seems I said several times that I had seen her visiting me at the hospital.
Anosognosia: This rare word means “absence of knowledge of oneself deficits”. As I couldn’t remember my new limitations, I tended to act as if I were capable of doing the same as before. For instance, it seems that the first few days after coming back home from the hospital, I sat at my desk in the morning ready to work just the same as before the surgery, even when I was on sick leave (I neither wasn’t aware of that, of course). I seem to remember I even tried to join some meetings. This made my wife put a banner on my desk saying with big letters that I was on sick leave and I shouldn’t work.