Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 18 - The Broken Pencil


A new pencil is a very useful instrument – long, slim, and full of lead, sharpened and ready to put important things (or useless things) down on a sheet of paper; an untouched eraser at the end also ready for use.  A new pencil is like a “new lease on life” – ready to begin again with new thoughts, new words, new information, to be shared (or not shared) with others; at times stopping to sharpen the point, but still a useful instrument.  The eraser is always on stand-by to clear the ideas or words written in error.

But, a broken pencil is of no use (or is it?).  The lead inside breaks apart and shortens the life span of the pencil, the pieces so small that they become useless pieces of garbage.  The eraser, even though yet untouched, is of no use unless the pencil marks are there to be erased.  A new pencil is needed to put those thoughts and words onto paper – “a new lease on life.”

A new pencil?  A broken pencil?  What do these have in common; and what do they have to do with memory loss – or do they have anything to do with it?

A brain is an instrument to be used, in some way much like a pencil.  The brain is sharpened by learning, reading, studying and filling it with all kinds of “lead” or thoughts, ideas, trivial stuff that one day may come in handy.  Once “sharpened”, this instrument can be very useful to us in ways unimaginable.  A brain also has a built-in “eraser”, or the ability to change our mind or thoughts if that becomes necessary.

But a “broken” brain – one destroyed by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease*, Vascular dementia*, or other diseases and health conditions, or damaged in an accident – is of no use (or is it?).  A “broken” brain is difficult to use in the same ways as before the damage.  A “broken” brain needs to be re-trained; re-sharpened.  New ways of learning and remembering need to be discovered, like writing things or visual reminders to help the memory process.

There are many ways to help one remember things.  Those suffering from the disease and their caregivers can always work together to help discover these ways, and how they can best be used in their particular situation.

BUT… That brings up the problem that exists for us, and may also exist for others:

The one suffering from the disease/dementia, the one with the memory loss, must admit or acknowledge that there is a problem before the two can work together!  There lies the problem in our situation.

If the person afflicted with the disease denies that there is anything wrong, a whole new set of problems may arise!  How is it possible to work out new ways to remember things if you don’t think you forget them in the first place!!??  Needless to say, this puts a lot of stress on the caregiver.  And this caregiver is trying to deal with that situation, but it really isn’t easy!

(This piece was written some years ago as we were beginning our journey with Dementia’s Demands!  I must say, it has been quite the journey!  Finally – he admits to the hearing problem, and a possibility of some memory loss – but he covers it up as often as possible in both instances.  Well…on we go with the journey!).


*Note:  For more information on Dementia, click here.



14 comments:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog! That's part of the tragedy of dementia, I think - the one with the problem doesn't always realize he/she has one. We've been caring for my m-i-l for some time, and dementia hasn't been her main issue, but she has had some degree of it, particularly when she was nervous. She is bedridden and mostly silent now, but when she was still mobile and verbal, she would worry over everything. When my husband was flying her down here, she was concerned that they'd miss their gate, even though he is a seasoned traveler. He asked her to help him look for it and gave her the number to look for - it seemed to help her to have some way to actively direct her thoughts rather than through the worry cycle

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting on my post! It isn't easy to work with one who has dementia; and anything that works is always good...helping to find the gate or whatever it takes. My husband is still able to get around on his own, but I wonder when it will happen - that he forgets where he is or something. He mostly goes to the same few places, and any where else we go together. It is just a journey that we are on and it will go until...well, whatever life brings for us!

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  2. great post - very interesting.

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  3. I teach dyslexia students whose brains must be retrained too to see word patterns. Great analogy.

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    1. Thank you for commenting! This is just something that came to me during the time we were first starting our journey...sometimes I do come up with something that is different or meaningful!!!

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  4. I liked the pencil illustration. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I appreciate your reading and commenting!

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  5. I'm learning so much from your posts. Blessings!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! It is encouraging when I read what others have to say...and knowing that you (and others) are actually learning something...I KNEW there was a reason I wanted to do this topic!!! I am also following your blog - but am WAY behind in reading!!!

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  6. Not only in dementia, but regardless the affliction, if you don't confront it, if you're still in denial, you can't make the steps to get yourself better. Needs alot of courage to accept things as they are. But sometimes we are too afraid to admit certain things and try to hide it, hoping that the issue will disappear. It is tough...

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting - the journey IS tough, but we are getting through it...and I am learning to cope more and more with this sharing of my posts and comments of encouragement.

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  7. Thank you so much for the great analogy! I've never thought of it that way. I've learnt something from you.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! The encouragement I've received in the comments and on the Facebook group are what keeps me going (with the blog); and knowing I am helping even ONE person keeps me going, too! Friends and other "encouragers" are what keep me going - period!!

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Thank you for stopping by to read my post today! I appreciate your reading and commenting - your comments are a welcome encouragement for me to continue one of my favorite things - writing!

You are special to me; and your words help in more ways than I can number...Thank you just isn't enough!