“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss
I’ve written about my memory, or lack thereof at times, here in the past. I’d like to revisit that subject once again …. and update of sorts. An older post about memory is HERE .
There are times when my memory is not great. I have a lot of holes in my long-term memory and, at times, I can forget things a few minutes later. Even my grand kids know this ….. recent exchange with my 6-year-old grandson ….. Me : “Please remind me about that later, would you?”; Grandson : “Papa, you could write that down!”
This memory issue has also been very evident as I have been copying thousands of my parent’s slides, many from my youth, into a digital format so they will be easier to share with my siblings. In many of these old photos I see myself, but I do not remember the time or the event. Of the others, I remember everything about what’s in the picture. Lots of holes in my past.
I’ve had a lot of discussion about this with many friends and family members. Some of these folks are also heart transplant recipients, like myself. A number of us in the transplant community admit to having some type of memory issue.
Now, I’m not saying that we have dementia or are doing crazy stuff like wear our underwear on the outside of our clothes, or get lost walking a block from the house. But, many of us seem to be unable to recall certain events, or can easily forget things. One transplant friend, who claims to NOT have a memory problem, tends to discount our memory issues. Over time, I’ve had some deep, serious discussions with a lot of people who got me to start thinking about the different paths we took to get where we are today.
For the most part, we (organ recipients) are all on a typical regiment of anti-rejection medications, also known as immunosupressants. Yes, we are all different and our bodies can certainly react differently to these strong meds. A lot of us like to “blame” memory issues on our meds, and that may be the problem, or at least part of it.
However, I will also offer that we have all gone through different amounts of trauma to our bodies …… Sure, we all had our chests split open, our native hearts removed and a “true gift of life” placed inside of us …. but, what about the trauma that we lived through to get to that transplant point …. or the trauma that happens AFTER we are transplanted?
In my case, I coded over a HUNDRED times in two weeks and was ZAPPED countless times in that period prior to my transplant and then attached to an ECMO machine post transplant. I have friends that were placed on some serious machines …. LVADs, BIVAD’s, or the mother of all machines, the total artificial heart …. Cardiowest, aka “Big Blue” for months at a time to keep them alive. Or we have endured IVIG & plasmapheresis treatments that some of us needed to deal with antibody issues.
Don’t get me wrong, these machines are GREAT …. they are a bridge to transplant, or the AED’s will get that “almost dead heart” beating again. THEY DO KEEP US ALIVE. But, as a side effect do they do something to our blood, our nerves, and / or the cells in our bodies and / or brains? And what about the natural differences between men and women ….. hormones? Or our chemical balances?
I will admit, that in my case, these memory issues are real …… and I deal with them …….. and in all honesty, they are a great trade-off in the big scheme of things ….. I’d trade a few memories for a chance at LIFE any day!! The gratitude in my heart confirms this each and every day.
(But please tell me if I have my boxers on over my jeans!!)
Below, you will see how I deal with memory issues ….. my 3X5 cards & pen ….. lists and other notes. It works for me and it will suffice until “Office Max” or “Best Buy”starts offering memory chips at low prices for my feeble mind.
“Everyone has photographic memory; some just don’t have the film.”
(Maybe my film is old, or I’ve run out?)