Friday, May 24, 2013

Headed the wrong way down Memory Lane?

Jennifer LaRue Huget

Lately I find myself wondering whether my multiple sclerosis has affected my … uh, what’s the word I’m searching for? Memory! That’s it. 

As I advance toward my mid-50s, I have plenty of opportunity to question whether my memory lapses are a normal sign of aging or a nefarious symptom of MS. I had extra time to ponder this situation last week while I was visiting my 87-year-old mother.

Ma is, knock on wood, in terrific physical and mental condition. She still lives in the house I grew up in and maintains the place, and her affairs, on her own. But she expressed frustration about the number of times she couldn’t remember what she had been about to tell me. She had some trouble keeping track of her house keys, and she spent the better part of a day trying to remember a certain word that figured in an anecdote from her childhood that she was trying to share with me.

It all seemed perfectly normal to me, and eventually she remembered everything she wanted to tell me and found her keys. But I understood her concern. It’s worrisome to think about losing your grip on your memory and your memories, and any sign that your grip is slipping can be scary.

In the years since I was diagnosed, I have often questioned whether my memory glitches are MS-related. My husband, who has known me since I was a teenager, is reassuring, in his own way. He reminds me I’ve always had a terrible memory, so I shouldn’t worry about it.

I think he’s right. After all, I’ve always kept a journal and taken lots of photos because I have always known I can’t count on my brain to preserve my memories.

But every so often I worry that MS damage has reduced my ability to remember things. And worrying certainly isn’t going to improve my memory. If things get much worse, of course, I’ll check with my doctor. But for now I think my inability to remember, say, the name of my second-grade teacher, or the current location of my eyeglasses, is probably just a normal part of growing older.

Because, really, who cares what my second-grade teacher’s name was?  And as for my glasses, after an exhaustive search of the house, I generally find them – perched right on top of my head.

P.S.: My teacher’s name just popped into my head! She was Mrs. Shirley, and she had very fair skin, and one day she came to school with a stain of iodine on her finger to disinfect a cut. Take that, MS brain!

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is


  1. I have decided that the MS in several ways (but especially memory) has "aged" me by 20-30 years. I was not diagnosed until I was 45 years old (Feb. 2011), but in the late 90's I started carrying a "pocket" voice recorder so that I could make notes throughout my day due to current forgetfulness . That did not help at all because in order for it to have helped, I would have to have remembered to listen to it! Many would say that would mean that I just have a bad memory. Now, looking at the timeline...memory problems in the mid-late 90's, I had Optic Neuritis in 2004 (which was most likely caused by MS), diagnosed with MS in 2011. The question to me is, have I had a bad memory since my early 30's, or have I had MS since then and just not diagnosed?

  2. The other day a co-worker told me, "You're too young to have memory problems". Really?? Tell that to my MS. I try not to get offended but I wish people would realize that age isn't the only thing that can affect a person's memory. Besides, I've always had a bad memory, so there. :)

  3. It is said that the more mature and experienced you get, the less you care what other people think about you. I am only 47, but I decided several years ago that I do not, will not, give a damn about what other people think!
    As to the memory problems, my wife did ask my MS Doctor if my memory problems were "out of convenience" (which would be our current administration's main excuse - "I don't recall"). He showed her the 8-9 scars on my brain and which ones were most likely to have the negative effects on memory.

  4. And back to that subject, it really pisses me off that we with real memory problems caused by MS catch so much flak about it and all of these federal government asses can't remember s**t and it is completely acceptable and actually believed!