Just One More

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I’ve been a little preoccupied lately with lapses in my cognitive function. Many folks have stepped up to assure me that it’s “perfectly normal,” “nothing to worry about,” and “happens to everyone.” Thank you! It really does make me feel better.

Still, I live alone. When you live alone, there are a few things you have to be especially watchful of. Choking is one. That’s unsettling even when it happens in a public place where there is more likely to be someone to pound me on the back and/or perform the Heimlich maneuver. Home alone, choking can be terrifying. Falling is another. Once, when I was much younger, I came home a little bit tipsy. Headed upstairs to bed in the dark, I accidentally walked right off the side of the steps, landing in a heap in the kitchen. Then, my only thought was, “I’m glad nobody saw that!” Now, whenever I take a fall, no matter how minor, my mind is running through what I know of skeletal anatomy, trying to assess the possible damage. And, living alone, the thought of losing my mental faculties is especially worrisome.

I do what I can. I try to be mindful when I’m eating, chew each bite thoroughly, and not rush through meals. After too many middle-of-the-night trips up and down the stairs, due to my own and my dogs aging bladders, I have moved my bed down to the main floor, to lessen the chance of a fall. And when I notice, as I have recently, that I’m not remembering things as I should, I pay attention. First, I help myself out where I can: I try to be more alert to what is going on around me; I write things down; I plan reminders. Second, I keep track of my lapses. I somehow feel it will be better if I figure this out on my own, rather than have to have someone else inform me. So, I have one more story to document.

This happened a couple weeks ago, and within just a few days of the other major forgetting incident that I’ve already told. I’m pretty merciful in my judgment about isolated occurrences. I’m busy, after all, and have a lot of things on my mind. It’s when the incidents of absent-mindedness start to pile up that I get concerned.

After several diversions and quite a bit of procrastination, I had finally – at the eleventh hour – gotten all the paperwork completed, and turned in my application to a gallery, for consideration for an art show. I was so proud of myself! I called my friend Linda (who knows well what an accomplishment this was) to tell her. She didn’t pick up, so I left her a message. While I was talking, not even to an actual person, I was preparing dinner for my dogs.

Rosa Parks has a “slow-feeder” dish to prevent her from eating too fast. It is bright green, shaped like a broad platter, with high nubs all over the surface. In it, she gets a measured one-quarter cup of dry food designed for small, senior, over-weight dogs, and one tablespoon of wet food, with her medicine mixed into it. I serve her on a fluffy pink rug around the corner from my desk.

Darla has a standard 2-quart stainless steel dog dish. She gets two scoops – like the scoop you’d use for flour or other grain – of her chunky dry food, plus a tablespoon of wet food with her medicine mixed in. Because she’s a big dog, I put her dish on a short stool, to cause less strain on her neck. Because the only thing my dogs have ever fought about is food, Darla is served away from Rosa Parks, at the other end of the kitchen.

It’s a little bit of a process, but I’m used to it. I had no trouble grinding up their medicines in the mortar and pestle, mixing them into the wet food, and measuring out the dry food while talking on the telephone. I put down the dog dishes, finished leaving my message, hung up the phone, and sat down at the computer. In no time at all, Darla came over and, with a big groan, dropped her head onto my lap. “What’s wrong,” I asked her, “why aren’t you eating your dinner?” I looked around the corner, and immediately saw the problem.

I had put the dishes in the opposite locations! Darla had lapped through that quarter cup of food in no time at all, “slow-feeder” notwithstanding, and determined that I was trying to starve her to death. Meanwhile, Rosa Parks probably thought, “Oh, it must be Christmas,” and tucked in to that gigantic bowl of chunky food without question. By the time I got it away from her, she had wolfed her way through half of it…which was more than five times her usual portion! She didn’t argue when I took it away, just lay right down for a nap, looking every bit like a big stuffed burrito!

Luckily, neither dog showed lasting ill effects due to my mistake. Still, it’s not something I’d want to make a habit of! It’s just one more thing I have to be more thoughtful about. One more thing to add to my “incidents list.” I hope that’s the end of it, for a while, anyway!

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

4 responses »

    • I understand that! I own three staple guns and a half dozen tape measures, because I could never remember whether they were with household tools, garden supplies, or in the studio! I also have a file folder dedicated to tape, for heavens sake!

  1. I feel your pain. I was told recently that hydrating really really helps avoid mental confusion. I don’t think either you or I are mentally confused, but I want to be as clear as I can be. I usually drink tea not water, but now water is in a measured container for me to try to get through

  2. Forgetfulness is normal at any age, and particularly as we age. At least, that’s what I tell myself! Everyone of all ages has so much to think/worry about that our brains get too full.
    I smiled about the dog bowls and food. A fun treat for one of them anyway. 🙂 We have to keep on smiling, Cindy, for sure. xo

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