Spell what?

I am not even yet 40, and already I feel my brain cells slipping away.  I don’t know if the memory problems I’ve been having lately are common to peri menopausal women or if they are unique to me.  But somehow I need to find a way to train my brain and stop the drain!

My memory mishaps are humorous to my daughter because she’s the one who ends up bailing me out.  Those of you who know me know that I adore writing.  Writing and spelling have always been second nature to me.  So why am I unable to spell words that I used to be able to spell?  I’m not talking about typos…I make plenty of those even without the recent brain drain.  I’m talking about flat out being unable to remember how to spell a word that I used to be able to belt out effortlessly.  The other day as she was working on her writing assignment, my daughter asked me how to spell a word.  Of course now that I am blogging about it, I can’t remember the word (yet more evidence of brain drain?)!  To her surprise, I could not tell her how to spell it, even when I tried to write it out.  She figured it out on her own…without me.

In yet another example, we worked late into the night last Tuesday finishing up a paper for her Wednesday Classical Conversations Essentials class.  Because time was short, I was typing while she dictated, and, once again, I stumbled across a word that I should remember how to spell, but didn’t: omnivorous.  (Just now as I typed the word, I made the EXACT mistake…omniverous.)

My husband thinks I am nuts and that there isn’t anything wrong with my brain.  I think it annoys him when I complain that there is — or that the only thing wrong with my brain is that I THINK there is something wrong with it!  However, he isn’t the one who keep stumbling over spelling!

It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I’ve always struggled with spelling…but I have always been an excellent speller.  I’ve often wished I had participated in spelling bees when I was a kid and had a bit of pride about all those 100s on spelling tests.  But now…my, how the mighty have fallen.

In particular, I seem to get tripped up on the “er” sound as it can be spelled “or,” “ir”, “ur” and “er.” Those “shun” sounds are also eating my lunch, and I have a hard time remembering if a word is spelling “tion,” or “sion.”

If I keep typing this blog long enough, I will likely come across a word that spell-check tells me is spelled incorrectly and will be unable to figure out the correct spelling.  When that happens, I usually just substitute one word for another.  Fortunately, this lack of spelling know-how seems to be limited to the more complicated vocabulary that I use less often.  I mean, how often does a person have to know how to spell “omnivorous,” anyway?

But the brain drain doesn’t stop at spelling.  That is where it is most noticable to

ah-ha!  There’s another one!  Did you catch that? Noticeable is spelled with an “e” in the middle.  That is another area where I keep making mistakes in spelling.  That wasn’t a typo because as I typed it I thought it was correct without the “e.”  Those little red lines underneath my misspellings are both loved and hated!  Loved, because they show me where I need to make a correction or use a different word if I can’t figure out the correct spelling, and hated because they remind me about my ongoing brain drain.

As I was saying before the word “noticeable” proved my point…the brain drain also applies to everyday life.  I keep putting the frozen waffles back up in the refrigerator instead of the freezer.  Nearly every day since she was two, my twelve year old asks for Eggos for breakfast.  You would think that putting up the waffles would be second nature to me, right?  Tell me why lately I keep sticking them in the fridge?  I’ve thrown out three bags of waffles in the past couple of months because they were put up in the wrong place.

Don’t get me started about using the computer and projector system at the church where we have our Classical Conversations meetings.  Last week I got in BIG trouble because I…FORGOT…an important step when closing up shop.  I stowed the computer monitors away while they were left ON, endangering the equipment in the process.  My contact at the church was understandably peeved at me for this oversight.  I apologized profusely but mentally kicked myself again and again because once again the brain drain knocked me down.

That’s the problem: if my brain drain only affected me, I could probably live with that.  But just who is educating whom here when I have to ask my daughter how to spell?  That’s a hard pill to swallow for me.  I think the Lord is rooting some pride out in the process.  I almost destroyed a computer system or could have started a fire when I forgot to turn those monitors off.  Now I am afraid to use them and need to write myself a note on a hot-pink sticky note: TURN OFF MONITORS BEFORE STOWING.  At least I still know how to read!

But I may be losing the ability to speak.  I’ve noticed an alarming trend of not being able to grab the words I want to use when I am speaking.  I am super sensitive to this, though, because my grandma now has Alzheimer’s disease; her dementia first started appearing in her speech.  I think I’m a little young for that (aren’t I???), but I’ve been more aware of mixing up my words.  I can’t remember (ha!) a specific example, but usually it goes something like this:

Daughter: Mom, can I go outside to play?

Me: Yes, as soon as you finish your juice.  I mean apple.  I mean yogurt!

Daughter: (laughing hysterically) You can’t remember what it is that I’m eating?

I haven’t even touched on losing the physical ability to speak and to sing…but that is also bothersome.  Part of my duties as a CC director involves speaking at information meetings.  In these meetings, I can count on needing to speak at least an hour pretty much non-stop.  This isn’t a problem for me mentally because I am as wordy in voice as I am in writing!  But physically, I begin going hoarse after about thirty minutes of nonstop speaking.

I am an AI Star in the car when I belt out praise songs along with my ipod…but not anymore.  Ever since a huge bout with a cold, I can’t sing.  (some would debate whether I could before!)  I do know enough to know when I hit notes or when I miss them, and now I am no longer hitting notes on the lower register.  It’s as if I try to sing but a frog croaks instead.  (That’s okay…you can laugh at that.  I just did!)

So what?  Well…again, it’s that pride thing.  And something niggling in my head wonders if maybe there really is something physical going on that is contributing to my sudden inability to spell, find words, speak, and sing.  Can fibromyalgia affect the brain?  Or should I go make yet another round of doctors, this time in the neurology department?  Ugh.  I’d rather eat a worm.

One thing I do have going for me is that I know I am in the Lord’s hands.  He doesn’t care if I can’t spell or speak or sing.  I can talk to him in my head all the time.  I wonder if that’s what my grandma does?

It’s a good thing we are in Classical Conversations because CC strives to “train the brain to retain.”

Now….what was I talking about again?

One thought on “Spell what?

  1. You know, I wonder if it is our age, or perhaps the hormones of peri-menopause, because I am going through this lately, too. I actually have Alzheimers prevalent on BOTH sides of my family, so yeah, I’m actually freaked out by this, where most people might shrug it off.

    I joke to my husband that perhaps it is all a delayed side-effect of all the drugs I used to do (there were a lot, admittedly) but that’s just one possibility and it seems odd that it would take 14 years to show up! I’m constantly forgetting things or going blank, but the really scary times for me are when I can’t find the word I want, or say the wrong word entirely. The first thought in my head sometimes is ‘dementia’.

    The fact that we’re both experiencing this so early also makes me wonder if our constant mental struggles and anxiety could lend themselves to this mental ‘fog’ and confusion. Makes sense, I suppose.

    Honestly, if we lived closer I’d make a doctor study us, since we seem to have so much mentally and physically in common. I don’t have the fibromyalgia, but just Tuesday I found myself doubled over with pain in my lower abdomen for around 8 hours, yet I was still 2-3 days from spotting (when I would normally get cramps…and these were far worse than any cramps I’d ever had before!) I have no idea what they were caused by (perhaps endometriosis?) but I actually thought of you at one point. Just so odd how there are so many overlapping yet seemingly unrelated symptoms. Maybe not so unrelated?

    Okay, so now I’m sounding all weird and stalkerish. Not what I am going for here! LOL. You know my heart (I hope!) and I’m just thinking out loud a bit. Oh, and just as a side note, I’ve had to backspace to fix mistakes no less than ten times while typing this! 🙂

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