May. 19th, 2011

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My mother has Alzheimer's so of course it's now constantly in my mind that I'm going to get it too. I've read that the very earliest symptoms can begin to manifest in one's forties, so now every time I do something absent-minded, I think, That's it. This is how it begins. And lately I seem to be doing an awful lot of absent-minded things.

I'm not talking about the little silly things that we all do from time to time, like misplacing the remote control someplace weird (like the freezer) or forgetting what we were supposed to pick up at the grocery store on our way home. I'm talking shit like -- I'll take the mayo out of the fridge and put it on the counter. Two seconds later I'll turn around and open the fridge and stand there staring into it wondering where the fuckin mayo is. Or I'll take the mayo out of the fridge, put it on the counter, and commence making my sandwich and even as I'm standing there looking at the mayo jar I'll somehow still wind up turning to the fridge to get out the mayo. It's all a short-term memory thing, which is totally characteristic of Alzheimer's. I can remember some actor's name from a TV show I watched 30 years ago, but I have a complete blackout on things I did a few seconds ago.

This morning my space heater was off. I know I left it on when I went to bed last night, because it was really damp in my apartment. When I sleep with it on, I've made it a habit to turn it off the second I get out of bed so that I won't forget and leave it on all day. This morning I got up and really had to go to the bathroom. When I went back into the bedroom to turn off the heater it was already off. Why was it off? Did I get up half-asleep in the middle of the night and turn it off because I was too hot? Is it malfunctioning? Did I accidentally hit the auto-off timer when I turned it on last night, so that it automatically shut itself off after an hour? Or -- this is the one that scares me -- did I actually turn it off as soon as I got out of bed (as I always do) but then by the time I went to the bathroom, I'd completely forgotten turning it off? I've been wracking my brain since 6:30 this morning but I have absolutely no recollection of turning off that heater. None. All I can remember is getting up and heading to the bathroom.

I think I got up and turned off the heater without even knowing I was doing it...that can happen with things that we do by rote, but I can always, always remember doing them later because I can see myself doing it, and here there's just this blank space in my head. And all I'm doing now is sitting here thinking, That's it. This is how it begins.

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oselle

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