Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Burning Down the House

Dear Lord in Heaven, help me now: I'm attempting to cook! I'm home alone, we're out of leftovers, and I have nothing to eat for lunch.

Batteries in the smoke alarm? Check! As I flip on the local college radio station for some tunes to accompany my cooking, the song "Burning Down the House" by the Talking Heads comes roaring out of my radio! Hmm...that's not a good sign! But bad omen or not, my coconut and curry lentil soup is already underway and it's too late to turn back!

Trying-Not-to-Burn-Down-the-House, phase one: I've drawn a picture on each hand. On one hand is a picture of a big pot of soup. On the other, there is a picture of a house on fire. I am not taking any chances! I can't even make tea anymore without walking away, only to be jolted alarmingly back to reality by the angry screeches of my tea kettle. And in case I still walk away today and forget that I'm cooking (and fail to notice the pictures on my hands), this brings us to phase two: I'm wearing a bright blue polka-dotted apron. I might as well be wearing a blaze orange hunting jacket: even I can't miss me!

All jokes aside though, the memory problems bestowed upon sufferers of Lyme Disease are debilitating, to put it politely (email me for the less polite version!). Sometimes I feel like I have Alzheimer's Disease (scientists have actually found borrelia burgdorferi, Lyme Disease, in the brains of several Alzheimer's victims). I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk about just how crippling their memory problems from Lyme Disease are. I get lost. I forget what I'm doing. I forget what I'm saying. I forget people's names and faces. And other than today, I've totally given up cooking, because I just walk away from the stove or oven and I have no memory of the fact that I was cooking! I can't remember to return phone calls or send emails. I can't remember who is helping with childcare for the day. I can't remember numbers, months, years. I can't remember my own telephone number or my address. Sure, just like everyone else I've always been a little forgetful, but this is different.

Recently, I had a 15 minute conversation with someone who knew me very well, only I had no clue who she was. I knew I knew her, but I had no idea how. She knew the names of my children and my husband and I had no idea who she was. I realized after we parted ways who she was, but the damage was done. I think a little part of me died that day, and I realized just how bad things were being affected in my brain by this disease.

Lyme Disease is not considered to be a very serious disease. It is not taken seriously by many doctors and scientists who frankly don't give a hoot about a disease that makes people forget to call mom back on the telephone. I'm here to show you my side of the story: the good, the bad, and the ugly. The debilitating memory problems are only one of many symptoms I deal with on a daily basis, but they deserve their five minutes in the spotlight.

Now, I just looked down and saw a picture of a house going up in flames. Better go check on my soup before I forget again and that picture comes true!


  1. Thankfully the house was intact when I got home -- and it smelled great!

  2. Great post! Sharing it now. I hear you on the memory thing. It is TERRIBLE! I am so terrified I am going to do that very thing. GREAT idea about drawing the picture!

  3. For me the cognitive aspect of lyme disease (memory, iq dropping) is the worst of any of it. Worse than the physical pain and debilitation because losing the mind is a whole different ballgame. This guy says it perfectly in this youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYMDz6z58Dk&feature=channel_video_title