Thursday, May 12, 2022

Microstory 1884: Transience

Transient Retrograde Amnesia is what they call it. I can’t remember how long I’ve had it, or what caused it. And that’s not an amnesia joke. I can’t remember, because I’ve been suffering from it for a long time, and I just happen to not recall that far back in the past. Lots of people have that kind of poor memory without it being a symptom of some larger issue. Most of the time, I’m normal. I know who I am, and what I’ve done. I can form new memories, and I know whether I left the proverbial stove on. Of course, I don’t own a stove, on account of those periods of time when I don’t remember a thing. Sometimes I wake up, and I have no memory at all. It doesn’t always occur when I literally wake up, but that’s what it feels like; like everything that happened to me before was a dream that disappeared from my mind in a flash. I know stuff did indeed happen, but mostly probably because it must have happened, since I know that adults don’t just suddenly come into being. I know this, because my memory condition doesn’t affect semantic memory, which is the kind that tells me what an adult is, and what a baby is, and what words to use to describe them. My problem is all about events, plus the most basic information about myself. I can’t tell you my name, or what kind of upbringing I had, for instance. Even the most recent of things are gone. I don’t know where I am, or how I got there. When the attack is over, it all comes flooding back to me, including the time I spent in that state. So I remember how fearful and anxious I become each time. I’m talking about this like it’s in the present, but I’m happy to say that I’ve not had an attack in over a year, whereas before, it would happen nearly every day.

Like I said, I don’t own a stove. It’s not worth the risk to be out in the world when I could lose it all without warning. Medical professionals of all sorts have tried to figure out what prompts an attack. Is it stress? Fear? Reminder of a past trauma? There seems to be no link between them. There’s no temporal connection either; it happens at all times of the day. As far as anyone has been able to discern after studying me for decades, it’s completely random and unpredictable. So I live in a facility, where others take care of me, even while I don’t need it. That’s the most humiliating part. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, but they won’t let me do anything. I can’t blame them. I once had an attack while I was holding a knife. It was quite obvious that I was cutting vegetables with it, but my father was in the room, and I thought he could have been a threat. So over the years, little by little, my privileges have been taken away. It’s for my safety as much as anyone else’s. Again, I’m not going to forget what a knife is, or how it works, or which end is the hazardous one, but I obviously can’t be trusted with it anyway. In a way, I’m relieved that my body has been failing me recently. When you’re bedridden, and it’s difficult to move, people have to wait on you anyway. It feels natural now, expecting the nurse or orderly to come in and feed me, or take my vitals. That’s what they’re supposed to do, and they do it for everyone who lives long enough to die like this. It’s almost over now anyway. My spirit has pulled itself away from my body. I’m hovering over it, looking down at myself like it’s not me anymore, because it’s not. The man left on the bed is looking around, confused and lost. He doesn’t remember a thing. I can’t believe I’m witnessing my last attack as a ghost. I keep watching, knowing the other me can’t hurt himself, and that it won’t be long before he’s dead too.

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