We were online the other evening, purchasing airline tickets for our trip here to Florida this week. When it came time to enter the credit card number, my husband turned to me and said, "Okay, let's have it." I rattled off the 16 digit number, complete with expiration date and security code. "Amazing," he said, shaking his head as he always does when I come up with arcane bits of information out of my head. "How do you remember that?"
Time was, I would smile with smug satisfaction, proud of the mind that was like a steel trap, keeping track of everything from passwords to birthdays, drug classifications to recipes. In recent months, however, my smug smile has faded. Clearly, the days of my ability to reliably classify and organize information in my head are coming to an end. In spite of recalling that credit card number upon request, I have been forgetting more and more things. In fact, sometimes it feels as if I remember nothing.
I know that women of a certain age have fuzzy memories. Apparently, the gradual loss of estrogen from a woman's body directly coincides with losses in her memory bank as well. I try not to panic when I can't remember where I've left my cell phone, my watch, my purse...it's common at your age, I tell myself reassuringly as I dash madly from room to room.
It's harder to remain unconcerned when my fuzzy thinking has more dire consequences. Last weekend, I was filling my husband's weekly pill container. He has a new medication, a tiny pink pill, which is fine except for the fact that two of his other medications are (practically identical) tiny pink pills. He takes two of one of these pills, one of the other, and one-half of the third. Well, I got them all mixed up and placed two of the one he was only supposed to take one-half of! Frantic, I tried to reach him on his cell phone before he took the medication, already imagining the headline -"Menopausal Woman Kills Husband in Medication Misdemeanor." The text I got in reply was less than comforting - "Too late on those pills. Already took them."
Don't worry, I'm not a widow. In fact, he didn't seem any the worse for wear other than some extra neuropathy pain because I shortchanged him on the pain medication.
But these are the kinds of muddle headed snafus to which I've become more and more prone.
In addition to age, I blame some of my frazzled thinking on the internet. I know I spend too much time on the internet, or texting on my phone. The constant barrage of information makes my brain feel as if the synapses are overloaded. Sometimes I can almost feel the sparks flying around up there, as my heart literally palpitates in agitation, flipping from Facebook to blogs to Twitter and back. So much to read, so much to think about, so much to say!
But mostly this increasing loss of memory makes me feel less capable, and that's a feeling I'm not familiar with. I've always prided myself on having a good grip on life in general. Paying bills on time, keeping up with appointments and errands, maintaining a regular schedule. Orderly and neat, everything taken care of the way its supposed to be -that's how I like to operate. Lately, I've begun to worry about what I may be missing, what I might have forgotten to do, what addle brained mistake is out there waiting to snag my progress through the world.
The world is definitely more complicated than it was in our parent's generation. It seems my life is continually crowded with things that must be done, all vying for my attention with varying degrees of intensity. And sometimes I wonder if all the things that have been invented during the past 50 years ostensibly designed to make life easier don't in fact make it more complicated. My yearning for a simple life is rooted in a need to have less to process, less minutiae to worry about.
Less to remember.
Because I'm definitely remembering less and less.