Saturday, December 08, 2012

Frightening signs of my failing mind

I have always been more than a bit cocky about my memory.  Historically, I have always had excellent retention.  Events, names, numbers, details of movie/book plots, etc.  While not photographic, I felt that I could rely on my memory and trust it thoroughly.  Until recently.

My increasing exhaustion over the last few years could, in and of itself, be eating away at my ability to remember things.  However, Lyme is known for playing havoc with one's mental abilities.

I started feeling the real impact when I couldn't remember whether or not I'd taken various medications and supplements.  I hated having to rely on an external management system, but I ended up getting some of those pill containers that say "A.M./P.M." on them.  I try to line up all my medications for the day at the same time every morning. I've accepted this.

I rarely go to the ATM for cash or to deposit checks.  Most of my banking is done online.  Last week, I needed to grab some cash.  When I put my card in the machine I started to enter my PIN.  After I put in the first digit I wavered.  I was pretty sure that I knew the second digit, but I was not certain.  Each subsequent digit was even more vague in my mind.  After three attempts the machine told me that my access was locked and that I would have to go into a bank to have the card unlocked.

Fortunately, the bank was still open.  When I get to the teller I explained the situation.  She said that she could unlock the card for me but that she had no way of telling me what my PIN actually was.  I asked her if I could reset the PIN to something I knew that I would remember.  She said 'no'.  She did offer to have a reminder mailed to me.  I agreed that it was a good idea.  I cashed a check to myself for the money I needed for the next few days and went home.

The next evening, I needed to go online to pay a bill that had come in the mail.  My online banking password did not seem to be working.  The system offered to let me set it.  I decided to go through with the reset.  Unfortunately, the process involved typing in my elusive PIN! 

I realized that resetting my ATM card had also reset my online banking access.  I knew that I would just have to wait until the reminder form came in the mail. 

When the reminder had not come four days later, I returned to the bank.  The teller explained to me that the reminder would arrive 7-10 business days after I requested.  ARGH!  No access to my bank account, except through the lobby, until I 'rediscovered' my forgotten PIN.

To settle some of my paranoia about the state of my account, the teller printed off the last 15 days worth of activity for me.  I checked it over and everything seemed in order.  However, I was still frustrated with myself over the stupid PIN.

Luckily, the reminder came in the mail the very next day.  When I opened the envelope and stared at the PIN I realized that I had merely been reversing the middle two digits on my first attempt the week before. 

I now have a safe place to store the paper reminder.  I also have it stored electronically in my password vault application (no, I'm not telling anyone what the application is).  The application is becoming more and more valuable to me as I try to better secure my online identity by using varying usernames and secure and unique passwords for every site that I access.  This increase in data in my life comes at an inopportune time, since my memory is becoming more and more unreliable.

I am frightened at the prospect of losing more of my mental faculties to this disease.  Becoming senile has always been a great fear of mine.  While the mental symptoms of Lyme are not the same as senile dementia, the overall impact to my life could end up being the same.  I do not want to become mentally unable to manage my own life or engage in life on my own terms. 

I seriously need to find a way to stop the progress of this disease.  If I can't, I will not allow it to turn me into some useless life form.

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