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Memory Health: Alzheimer's Support Group
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Quick Exit

The following is more or less a recounting of an email I sent to Jeff a few days ago that sparked a good little discussion. I just wanted to share the impetus for that discussionwith you, ask if you or your LO have experienced such episodes and, if so, what effect did it have on you and those in your immediate circle and how did handle it?

Sometimes this disease mystifies me with its sudden transient nature. By way of example, I was carving the lid to a box for a Christmas present a few days ago, I know it’s early to start on Christmas but when you can’t rely on your brain you do what you can when you can, and things where going along as smoothly as they have in a loooong time. I was using a roto tool to outline the design I was carving into the lid and my lines were unusually crisp and straight, something I had almost given up on of late. I was approximately 2/3’s done when I realized I had completely fogged out. It took me several seconds to even realize where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. According to those with me, I had been speaking and responding normally just minutes before so I know the fog wasn’t long lasting but what was amazing is that it occurred in the blink of an eye. I didn’t feel it coming on at all and I don’t remember any of my actions during the fog. But here’s the really neat/freaky/amazing/(insert your own word here) thing, my body continued with what I was doing as if I had had no mental lapse whatsoever, sortof. The nice, crisp, straight lines that had been taking place now looked as though I had followed the path of a worm rather than my pattern. They were squiggly and ragged but for the most part followed the pattern lines. It’s as if my body was working on autopilot, just continuing from rote memory or muscle memory. I’m sure I must have seen what I was doing and visually guided my hands to some degree but I have no conscious memory of it. Again, autopilot

One of the more interesting questions to come out of our discussion of this scenario was that if I’m/you’re/whoever is working with a power tool in this autopilot state and happen to slip and start digging into your finger say, would the pain be enough to bring you back to reality. And if it did, would it bring you back far enough to realize what was happening and that you needed to provide a remedy to the situation or would you be as a young child and only know that it hurts and perhaps go on to make the situation worse. We have our theories but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.To be clear, sligpping fairly quickly into a fog is nothing new to me. I’m just not accustomed to it becoming that profound that quickly and having absolutely no memory of the intervening time afterward. I suppose I still have a lot to learn. Just hope I can remember some of it.

Take care.


5 Replies

I think at this point you would probably know what to do after a few seconds but maybe further down the line you won’t Not sure

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Lori, for the immediate future anyway, that was the basic thoughts we had. It may take a few seconds to orient and understand the situation but we believe we could find help.


Interesting story, Randy. I view the human brain as a thin layer of consciousness riding on top of a evolutionary ancient, field tested machine that handles 99% of what we humans do throughout a day.

The movement of something as simple as raising a cup of coffee to your mouth is a really complex set of motor control procedures. Neuroscience is beginning to decode the neuronal firing patterns in the motor cortex of the brain, so that "simple" movements can be replicated -- interesting applications for assistive devices...

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Thanks Christian, that’s much the same view I’ve come to hold concerning the human conscious. Funny as it may seem, the roto tool is my current assistive device. I have always accomplished my carvings utilizing hand tools, knives, chisels, etc... that is until a few weeks ago when I decided I was cognizant enough to do some carving even though I knew I was foggy. Big mistake. A stab wound at the base of the thumb and several stitches later I realized that was not the smart choice and some changes had to be made. Hence, the roto tool, it’s theoretically safer (deadman switch) than the hand tools and I try to only work when I’m at my clearest. It just so happened that a fog slipped up on me this time without any warning.


Randy; since you and I chew the fat frequently, I figured to give this a few days for other voices to join in before responding but the whole using the pain signal to snap out of a crisis situation thing is precisely at the root of the concept I was fooling with when we met, the smartwatch that had subtle vibration-based pulses that could periodically fire and keep you (me) from drifting too far afield if what I am working on demands constant focus and/or concentration. In the past we can do that work on something that needs focus but still use our brains for other tasks as well, conversing with a friend, watching a movie, listening to a song. Now, that just doesn't work for me anymore; the loss of executive function means if I need to stay focused on something to get it done, I can have ZERO other distractions or let my mind wander in the process or even be done some other physical task like walking, talking, etc. The moment I lose focus, disaster strikes, so as time goes on and my ability to force that focus recedes, I find I am almost baby-proofing my tasks and expectations of progress in any given day.


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