The disabilities team was discussing how our disabilities affect us in our day-to-day life, and with things like getting to face-to-face moots. As usual, anyone suggests I should think about something and my mind goes into overdrive.
Since my stroke, I have issues with short term memory – it doesn’t remember very well. I sometimes feel that it isn’t so much a memory problem as a distraction problem. If I can stay focused, I’m ok, but if I get side-tracked by something other that what I should be doing in that moment, I go off and do something else.
I get round this with lists – what should I be doing today, what needs to be done tomorrow or next week – a comprehensive diary, and importantly a ready supply of paper and pens to jot down things the minute I think of them – before I forget. Some activities it is impossible to make a list for.
Just for an insight into what this means for me – and for a chuckle – I laugh at myself all the time, it’s the best way to deal with it – here is how my morning went a couple of days ago.
I went to the kitchen to make my early morning cup of tea. I was still in my pink nightie, hair standing on end in its usual morning display of defiance. That first cup of tea definitely takes precedence over a shower. I noticed a pile of clothes that I had taken from the tumble dryer the night before, folded, and forgotten to take to my bedroom. I took them to my room while I waited for the kettle to boil and placed them on the chair next to the wardrobe. I decided not to put them away as it was a complete outfit that I could put on after my shower.
Tea satisfyingly drank, I resisted the temptation to make another one, headed for a shower, returned to my bedroom to get dressed. There was something on the chair so I sat on the bed instead. I opened my wardrobe door, took out some leggings and a long loose top. Sat down on the bed.
Hmm, I’d forgotten pants and socks. I collected these from the drawer, moving the chair out of the way to open the drawer fully. Who keeps putting that chair there in anyway?
I sat down on the bed. Something was missing – my bra. I went back to the drawer that I had just been in for the pants and socks. My favourite bra wasn’t there. As I mused on this, my eyes rested on the chair. My bra was there, right in front of my eyes, on the chair. Oh yes, I had put all my clothes there earlier hadn’t I? I’ll just finish getting dressed, then I’ll put them away.
I’m finally dressed. I put my nightie in the washing pile. I found a jumper – clean – on my dressing table. I put it away in the wardrobe. Job done, I went to sit on my chair and found a pile of clothes that needed putting away…
And yet, last week I took the minutes for a meeting of a community organisation I volunteer with using T-line shorthand that I learned at college. I doubt if anyone remembers it now, but I do, even though I can’t remember to take my knickers out of the drawer.
Portland Jones, disabilities liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands