Changes in outlook on life via health issues.

jcroy

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This is a spinoff from another thread, which is probably more appropriate here.


While we can't take it with us, some have extra needs that require us to leave what we can to children. I am in such a scenario, so the bulk of my retirement is not going to be for me.
(Thinking about it more).

In my current scenario, I don't have any kids to pass on all my stuff to. (My kid passed away very young).

I also have too many health problems, where I can croak suddenly at any time. After several strokes, I've come to the realization I have no use for a lot of "stuff". (I'm also nowhere near to retirement).

For most stuff I no longer have much use for, I end up giving away a lot of it to local friends/family. If they don't want any of it, I'll drop it off to nearby charity thrift stores (such as goodwill, etc ...).

On both sides of my family, there is a long history of Alzheimers. Even if I do manage to live to old age, I don't know if I'll still remember anything. Having a large collection of music/movies and not being able to remember why I liked listening/watching them, would completely defeat the entire purpose of having a collection in the first place.

I haven't went to a specialist doctor yet, but for several years I've been having early symptoms of not remembering much of my youth or young adulthood. (I don't know if it is alzheimer/dementia).
 

jcroy

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I recently booked an appointment with a specialist that deals with alzheimer/dementia issues, but no date yet.
 

jcroy

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(Some background).

If one goes through my posting history on here, one will noticed I've been alluding to issues like extreme ocd compulsive collecting, burnout, apathy, etc ... when it comes to dvds/blurays. For many years, I believed this was just the ups and downs of being in a particular hobby which was slowing running its course.

In more recent times, I've been coming to the realization things might be different this time and that these issues may very well be just symptoms of something more serious underneath.


Awhile ago I went to a college reunion, largely out of boredom and curiosity. (I don't normally attend such events). At this reunion, I ran into some former classmates/friends whom I don't remember at all whatsoever. One person even brought along some old photographs from back in the day, where I didn't recognize anybody in the photos at first. I didn't even recognize my younger self in the photos at first. (Some were old photos of "us" in study groups, parties, nights on the town, etc ...).

To further check whether I wasn't fooling myself, I later went to the college library to find old yearbooks to see whether I recognized anybody I saw at that reunion. Other than noticing younger photos of several individuals I "met" at the reunion, I didn't recognize anyone (other than myself). I don't even remember being in the same classrooms or labs with these individuals.

Later I contacted another college friend which I kept in contact with over the years, and asked if there were any personal photos of us from our college years. I went to visit this friend and looked at all the photos, where I didn't recognize anybody in the photos other than myself and this particular friend.

It was as if I was looking at photos of somebody else's "college years". No obvious recall or emotional reaction on my part.
 

jcroy

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After several strokes, I've come to the realization I have no use for a lot of "stuff". (I'm also nowhere near to retirement).

......

On both sides of my family, there is a long history of Alzheimers. Even if I do manage to live to old age, I don't know if I'll still remember anything. Having a large collection of music/movies and not being able to remember why I liked listening/watching them, would completely defeat the entire purpose of having a collection in the first place.
(Going back in my remaining memory).

The first time I noticed significant loss in memory, was shortly after I first had a stroke more than a decade ago.

In those days, the ocd compulsive completionist/collecting "treadmill" I was on, was completing my audio cd collection. Going back to the 1980s and well into the 1990s, my niche of choice was less popular bands released by indie record labels in a particular genre (related to a brainless/dumb variety of punk rock).

By the 2000s, most of the audio cds I was searching for and buying was stuff in the "semi-rare" category. It turns out in the end, it was mostly compilations cds of unreleased stuff like demo tapes, unreleased albums, bootleg live tracks, studio outtakes, etc ... which was largely unlistenable junk for the most part. (There was a reason most of this crap was unreleased to begin with).

What really changed after the first stroke, was that I noticed most of the "emotional" context for the music I listened to a lot when I was younger, suddenly became absent. At first I didn't know what was happening, and largely thought it was just the price of "getting old".

Judging by the huge rock posters I still had on my walls in my then-apartment (such as KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, etc ...) and the cds which I had kept around next to the cd player (ie. not in storage), it was obvious this was the sort of music I would have played over and over again on repeat when I was at home. After the first stroke and for a few years afterward, I was wondering why I even listened to these music cds in the first place. It was as if I was "listening" to this music with no emotional context at all, like how an academic/musicologist/critic would listen and not a "fan".

At the time, I largely jumped off the audio cd ocd compulsive collecting treadmill, thinking it had largely run its course for me. I now know something else was going on in my mind.

Since the first stroke, I was thinking (or hoping) this emotional context for music would eventually come back for me. Though after a few subsequent strokes over the past decade, so far it has not come back at all. (I suspect it will probably never come back at all).
 
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SAhmed

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and experiences - it helps people who may be going through similar situations directly or indirectly. The fear of the unknown.
I am going through a significant health crisis due to an undetected Lymphoma in my spine which has caused a lot of damage where I now have a very long road before I might be able to walk again. I am nevertheless blessed.

Tough days ahead for you but from this and other postings that you have made, you are made of the right stuff! :thumbsup:

Will be thinking of you and saying a little pray. Feel free to reach out whenever you wish.

Regards,
 

jcroy

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Thanks SAhmed.

Thoughts and prayers for your recovery and to walk again.
 

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I'm a person who never forgets a face, so a loss of that ability would be devastating. I see actors on TV or in a movie, and unless they are in the beginning of their careers, I can name them. People bet if I can name "the girl in ...", if they bet I can, they usually win. But I'm not as good at as I used to be with coming up with the name. I can quote dialog, I can tell you what movies they were in, but sometimes, the name just doesn't come instantly anymore. My mother who died at 87 could crank out 50 year old names addresses and phone numbers until the end, so I hope I can keep on recognizing faces. My record is when I recognized my 1968 hospital roommate in 2010 while shopping one morning. It took me about 5 minutes to realize who he was, but I knew I knew him, and had argued with him the second I saw him.

Good luck in the future..
 

Neil Middlemiss

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I wish you the very best, I sincerely do.

I have read about music being a strong connector to the past and that for elderly sufferers of the diseases that rob people of their memories, music can help form, if just for a time, that link to their earlier lives (I'll have to research where I read about that, though it could have been a segment on one of the news shows). But there may be good reason yet to hold on to some of the music that you hold dear.

As I heard growing up all the time when faced with challenges, "Chin up!" And best of luck to you!
 

jcroy

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Thanks for mentioning this Hemiram.

My memory was never really that great to begin with. So I'm accustomed to being absentminded. But in more recent times, I've noticed my memory lapses and absentmindedness have been occurring with a much higher and higher frequency.

Over the past weekend, I watched through some blurays of movies which I really liked a lot when I was younger. (I called up the ex-wife and asked which films I use to like watching a lot, to check/confirm that my recall was accurate). I remember back in the day, I use to like watching these movies over and over again, such as:

- the original Total Recall
- Terminator 1 and 2
- First Blood
- Indiana Jones
- Star Wars
- etc ....

(I haven't seen these movies recently).

Though when I watched these movies over the weekend, there was no emotional reaction from me. No excitement nor even any hints that I even liked these movies in the past. It was as if I was watching them from the perspective of a film critic or reviewer, and not as a hardcore fan. At times I was wondering how I ever found these movies very exciting in the first place.

I don't know how to describe this more accurately, but it seems like the emotional context of my memories has been stripped away.
 
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Clinton McClure

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I have been reluctant to post in this thread and do not want to hijack it and post my own health issues that I am facing as I grow older, so I will stick to the topic at hand.

My wife’s grandmother suffered from Alzheimer's disease for several years. It got to where she couldn’t remember a lot of people and called them by the wrong names or completely drew a blank as to their names. She always remembered my wife, however. Right up until the day she passed away, she could remember my wife’s name and knew exactly who she was. And Conway Twitty and Elvis. No other recording artists moved the needle after she got really sick. My wife would go pick her up and she would spend the night with us sometimes. While she was at our house, my wife would play some Conway Twitty or Elvis for her on YouTube and she lit up like a kid on Christmas morning and knew exactly who she was listening to. I can’t imagine how that must feel to completely lose track or everything and everyone you knew, save for two or three things.

I sincerely hope that when you get to see the specialist, they tell you that you don’t have any form of Alzheimer’s and have just had a cartoon anvil dropped on you too many times or something like that. Wishing you the best and please keep us updated.
 

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Thanks for sharing story Clinton. I've seen similar declines of many older relatives that had alzheimers/dementia. It is a sad sight seeing someone degenerate away.

I think what you've described in your wife's grandmother as "... she lit up like a kid on Christmas morning", might be what I've been describing as "emotional context". In particular in conjunction with music, as what you and Neil have alluded to.

A lot of my recall of past events in my life, currently feels almost like I'm "reading a book" about it. The "emotional context" is what makes the difference between something that I've "read in a book", in contrast to something which actually happened in my life and affected me at a personal level.

At this point I've been searching for anything from my past, which could in principle trigger some "emotional context". So far obvious stuff like music, movies, food, old personal photos, etc ... have not been able to ignite much "emotional context" for me (yet).

It feels somewhat distressing that stuff from past personal events from my life, feels almost indistinguishable from something that I "read in a book".
 

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In the event that I might possibly eventually succumb to alzheimers/dementia (which runs heavily on both sides of my family), my fear is that my "read in a book" memory will also fail too. If I don't find anything from my past which can trigger "emotional context" in memory recall, then I would probably become a completely anonymous person "without any identity" as time passes.
 

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I have read depression can be a major factor in memory loss, short, and long term. My sister is an RN, and says this is very true, many people worry they are in the early stages of Alzheimer's are actually depressed and she said proper medication can give them a whole new outlook on life, and their memory returns.

I hope your health improves.
 

jcroy

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Thanks for mentioning this Bryan.

I have been to several family doctors and a few specialists over the past decades, in regard to depression type issues. (Most recent was a few years ago).

In every single case, they didn't believe I had depression and the specialists refused to write any further prescriptions for me. One specialist even mentioned explicitly that I should work on myself and change my attitude about life.

At the time, the specialist thought I had the mentality of a "spoiled brat" in a then-young adult's body. (I was at wits end at the time, and told the specialist outright to be very direct and honest to me. I felt my family doctors and previous specialists were being "too diplomatic" with me). ;)

On my next appointment with the alzheimer/dementia specialist, I'll bring up the depression issue to see what they say exactly.
 
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Mike Frezon

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As I read through all this, the best response I can think to give is to not assume the worst (until you've been diagnosed with xyz, don't assume you've got it) and to be as pro-active as possible in having doctors figure out what exactly is wrong and how best you can ameliorate your condition/situation. A big thumbs-up for reaching out to that specialist.

And, also, to embrace all those things in your life which have meaning. Triage all that's in your life. Jettison those things that don't matter (sounds like you are already started on some of the physical manifestations of that). And realize that this new awareness of mortality can be a very empowering matter. It can allow you to focus on what's important, the limited time we have, how we can best have a positive impact on those around us--that we care about, and live our lives to the fullest (and as a consequence not sweat the small stuff).

As another who will raise their hand as one who has nearly kicked-it a few times in recent years (and has health issues that just won't quit) I have found that I have developed a great peace about life and about death and, as I mentioned above, an increased awareness of what's important. And even though the health issues can sometimes be a real drag, I gotta admit that there has also been a real upside in terms of all the other stuff.

Grab the brass ring! And make the most out of the life that you are living right now. The past is the past and we just can't know what the future brings. Living in the here-and-now can be a freeing and fulfilling experience.

All the best, man.
 

Tony Bensley

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All the best to you regarding your upcoming appointment. I hope the doctor can help in getting the answers (And whatever treatment, if any!) that you need.

CHEERS! :)
 

jcroy

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As I read through all this, the best response I can think to give is to not assume the worst (until you've been diagnosed with xyz, don't assume you've got it) and to be as pro-active as possible in having doctors figure out what exactly is wrong and how best you can ameliorate your condition/situation.
Definitely.

For something like alzheimer/dementia, this is something I feel I should go to a specialist.

Other issues I've had in the past (or currently), I haven't really went to the doctor/specialist. For example such as OCD, hoarding, etc ... type issues. Even without going to the doc, I knew it was a problem. (Fortunately not a debilitating one). More than a decade ago I did go to a therapist for some unrelated issues, but discovered in the process that I had some compulsive hoarding issues which were addressed briefly in therapy. (In those days I didn't want to admit that I could have been one of those folks featured on "hoarding" type reality shows on various basic cable channels such as aetv or tlc).
 

jcroy

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Nevertheless, it is easy to fall into a "self fulfilling prophecy" mindset of fooling one's self into believing one has a particular disorder/disease. (Especially if one is a hypochondriac).
 

jcroy

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Over this past evening, I put on the original Battlestar Galactica season 1 bluray.

If ones goes through my posting history here, one will notice that I have mentioned in many posts about the original Battlestar Galactica being one of my favorite tv shows from when I was a preteen. (Over the past decade or so, I have watched through the season 1 dvd set over a hundred times. When I first purchased the bluray set, I also watched through it several times in late-2016/early-2017).

Tonight, things were completely different. It turns out when I watched the first episode on bluray, there was absolutely no "emotional context". I didn't feel any excitement in watching it, unlike previous numerous times.

I have no idea why this is the case.

As a cross-check to make sure I wasn't fooling myself, I also put on a recent James Bond movie which I don't really think much of. Comparing the first episode of the original Battlestar Galactica with a recent James Bond movie, neither had any "emotional context" for me. The latter isn't too surprising, but the former is somewhat irksome to me that I don't feel any excitement about watching it.

More generally and recently, I haven't found any tv show/movie yet which ignites any "emotional context" for me.
 

jcroy

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And, also, to embrace all those things in your life which have meaning. Triage all that's in your life. Jettison those things that don't matter (sounds like you are already started on some of the physical manifestations of that).
If my mind has been completely affected where everything (or almost everything) from my past no longer has any "emotional context" for me, then this would mean starting over almost from scratch in finding something else to do. No obvious cues from my past activities, in what directions to look at.
 

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