Do you want a piece of my mind?

3 Comments

I have lost myself. Literally.

Late last year, a neurological disorder (Hydrocephalus, for the medically inclined) robbed me of cognitive abilities and 27 years of memories, personality, and emotions.

Skills can be re-learnt, and it's surprising how little of what we "are" is a skill, voluntary or involuntary. I have re-learnt the language I work in, and re-acquired the technical skills to re-align with my old profession of a technical wordsmith.

xrfiles.png

I've never met (in-person) any of the people I have worked with in over half a decade, be it my colleagues at Linux.com, my acquisition editor at Packt Publishing, or my current editors at Linux Format, PC Plus, and TechRadar, and elsewhere. All our interactions have been via a digital medium that's been logged, and archived, and is easy to refer to and rebuild from.

Emotion and Memory

In the process of re-educating myself I discovered that a lot of me was in the small bits that just can't be backed up.

Memories are made up of events that have some bits of context attached to them, such as emotion. A dated picture is just a snapshot in time. The difference between you looking at it, as opposed to an image scanner is that you are aware of the context. I am the scanner that can identify individuals in the photograph.

After living with strangers for over six months, I now remember my family. Which is to say I have memories of them. What I lack is any emotional connect with them. Similarly I miss an emotional connect with myself. I have "learnt" to identify myself in old photographs, but I might as well be pointing to a giraffe! There's no context in what I have been able to recall.

Why is that? Why can't I access my memories? Is it because of the small focal nodular/meningeal enhancement in the left frontal lobe, left parietal lobe, and in right CP angle region of my brain? Or, the associated small focal areas of gliosis in these regions?

It might sound like gibberish to the lay man, but this med-speak would make sense to a neurologist, along with the MRI and CT scans.

Care to help?

I have all my brain scans up on XRFiles.com. It's a wonderful service that lets you share the high-resolution industry-standard DICOM images outputted by the MRI and CT scanners, with anyone. The service allows me to share my scans with anyone who can view them from within their browser, or download them for offline viewing. It uses Janrain to let you login using an OpenID (though I'll need your email address to send you an invite to view my scans. Hit me up on geekybodhi-at-gmail-dot-com).

So if you are, or know of a neurologist, or a physician, student, researcher, or anybody interested in studying the brain, and can help me recall my memory, I'd appreciate your opinion.

Update: The service seems to be in limbo. If you're interested in looking at those scans, email me, and we'll figure out something to get you access to the DICOMs.

Update: I'm trying to rewire the neurons by getting in touch with people I've studied/worked with via a publically-accessible community on Facebook.

Gavin Flower

Hmm...

I suggest that you ask your friends and loved ones to talk about where they first met you and what you enjoyed doing together - or other significant shared moments (some may be sad or unpleasant). Using photographs, and possibly revisiting the areas. I'm thinking that it will be helpful to have as many different sensory inputs to try and re-establish the emotional contexts.

With your wife (?), discuss and possibly re-enact some of your courting activities.

You will need to pace yourself in this, and some things may need revisiting several times and from different perspectives.

All the best for your recovery.

2010-12-28 21:17:40

charles zeitler

thank you for your courage.

i incurred similar losses, from a 'nervous breakdown'
about thirty years ago, and i am still in recovery.

memories started coming back (with help!) easier than
emotions, and even now i find myself 'getting' the
stronger and 'negative' emotions, more clearly and easily.

but i haven't given up!

2010-12-28 22:52:56

Mayank

Thanks for your suggestion Gavin. I'm trying to rewire the neurons by getting in touch with people I've studied/worked with via a publically-accessible community on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-me-rebuild-my-Memory-Palace/127257410662988).

Charles, keep at it!

2010-12-29 11:06:32

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