You don’t have to have a brain injury to have memory problems. But when you can’t trust your memory, often you find yourself apologising for it. Maybe it’s someones name you can’t put your finger on. Or it turns out you have already told that person a million times the story you’re imparting with relish. None of which means you’re a fool, but I’m sure I’ve been mistaken for one before now.
Humans have a predisposition for making assumptions.
We learn through repetition. Take an Orange for example: You enjoy the sweet citrus favour and it’s texture as each segment gently pops as you bite it. But imagine you have never seen or heard of one before. You pick a ripe one from an orange tree. You go to take a bite. Immediately you are other-come by the bitter flavour of the peel, and the chewy, spongy texture of the pith. That experience might lead you to think it’s not good for you, let alone it tastes awful.
But as most of us have been shown by a parent or guardian how to peel the Orange first, we can sample it’s goodness without the peel taking the first punch. But does that mean we have to peel all fruit for the same reason? No of course not, but you might forgive an alien for being confused. That’s how assumptions happen, but what I’m trying to say is, it’s natural and forgivable.
Therefore I can understand how if a person knows the other person has a memory issue, they might assume they have to take what they say with a pitch of salt. But whilst they are trying to avoid being gullible, sometimes they end up being the fool.
When someone wrongly thinks you have been blinded by science.
I was called to a meeting about some paperwork regarding my Dads care. (I might have mentioned this before actually, but I can’t remember.) After the 3 hour drive, the lady James and I had come to meet with, explained what she needed. We hadn’t met her before, but she was very competent. But it all felt so familiar. I kept trying to her that I was sure all this was completed at a prior meeting. But because neither James or the lady had been at the previous meeting, there was only my memory to rely on.
Perhaps I didn’t understand enough about the system. It was plausible that different departments needed similar information but weren’t great at sharing it amongst themselves. Therefore forcing people to complete forms over and over again. Or maybe I was having deja vu? (Those of you who have read about how rubbish I am at French, may I have a round of applause please! I’m only kidding.) My untrustworthy memory failed to stop us continuing with the hours of work.
About a week later I received a letter from the lady. She said there must have been a mix up when she was tasked with completing the paperwork. It turned out it had all been completed correctly at the previous meeting. She had been sent on a wild goose chase and was apologising for wasting our time. I’m sure she was hugely frustrated by this scenario, and didn’t like to be made to look like a fool.
But it’s not nice to deliberately fool someone who doesn’t remember.
When my Dad was fighting Alzheimer’s whilst living on his own, he would try to pay people over and over again for the same thing. I know because some of them would make a point of telling me so I could take over the payments via bank transfers. That meant Dad didn’t need cash, they just needed to send their invoice to his PA, me. But it wouldn’t surprise me if some might have succumbed to the temptation to accept the extra cash before I took over.
But I do admit I “recycle” conversation topics with Dad. My life post brain injury isn’t very exciting (as you can tell). So I run out of things to say to him. But as he rarely remembers the last update on the life of Michelle, I do an impression of those TV channels who just broadcast repeats. But as this causes no harm, and is preferable to the awkward silences, I think it is acceptable.
The moral of my story is whilst someone might not always remember, don’t mistake that for lack of intelligence.
For more about how an unreliable memory is a struggle to deal with read Order of events disorientated. Another brain injury aftermath.
Have you ever felt people use your brain injury against you? Do you find yourself doubting your own memory?