Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

What it's like to live with short-term memory loss

Gweneviere Mann suffered a stroke during a surgery to remove a brain tumor, and since then her short-term memory has been impaired. This animation from StoryCorps looks briefly at the life of Mann and her boyfriend.

Advertisement

[via The Awesomer]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

trianglekitty
Trianglekitty

I live with my mother, who has severe short term memory loss related to various auto-immune conditions.

I wish there was anything inspiring in it, but the reality is it's just frustrating for us both. There are days I feel like I have the same conversations hundreds of times. Writing things down doesn't work, because she'll forget to read them. Even if she does, part of her condition includes disordered and irrational thinking, so she'll want to discuss and argue about the information. Like if I write down 'Today is Thursday', she wants to argue that it's actually Sunday.

She can walk out of a doctor's office and say the doctor told her exactly the opposite of whatever he actually said. She has lost all ability to understand that time is linear, which is a huge problem when it comes to her medical care. For example, if she's been complaining of headaches for three months, and the doctors prescribe a new drug to control them, she'll try the new drug one time and then say it's giving her headaches. She can't understand that a drug she just started can't possibly be responsible for a pre-existing symptom. If I try to explain why that's not possible, she reacts like I'm trying to explain some incredibly complex theory that only a college graduate could possibly grasp.

A huge part of what makes this so upsetting and frustrating is her refusal to simply trust me. Like with her meds, she insists on trying to understand how certain meds titrate up or down, and the truth is that she simply CAN'T understand it. Insisting on having me explain is 30 times in one day is just needlessly irritating for us both. If I say it's Thursday, she can't trust that I'm right.

I did like the video...I guess I just get upset sometimes when it feels like I'm supposed to be inspired by my own situation, or find my mother inspiring, or feel blessed that I can be there for her. But I don't feel any of those things.