Sometime back I underwent something my medical team called "neuro rehab" for memory and cognitive changes. A series of tests were performed, and I was told that even though there were some issues with memory and higher level functions, that I was still within the broad range of normal.
Today, I got back findings on a volumetric analysis that was done with my MRI on Monday. It turns out that I'm now in 64th percentile for total hippocampal volume- adjusted for my age, head size- etc. The measurement came to 9.12 mL. It's considered to be a lower volume if the range is anywhere between 9-12 mL.
I did a little more research, and there is a medscape article that showed that atophy in the hippocampus causes memory problems. It further showed that people are very aware when their cognitive status changes, and that it usually means a decrease in the volume of their hippocampus- even when other forms of testing fail to show that there has actually been a decline is cognitve abilities.
All I really knew, prior to this- was that I used to be sharp- high IQ, etc. I've lost a lot of that... And my working memory is really awful. As irritating as that is to me, in my case- I feel that it's a strange kind of justice. When others took too long to understand something, I was quietly annoyed. I grew up in that kind of household, but truly, that's no excuse. So in a way, I think I deserve this comeuppance. It's definitely made me more empathetic.
I'm feeling philosophical lately, and this is what I think: It's very good that life allows us to keep learning important lessons.
Like you I have brain atrophy as well. This was discovered back around 1994 after I had MS symptoms for over 5 years. I was also one of those super smart people with I high IQ. When I was growing up I was doing algebra & trigonometry when I was 7 years old, and reading things like Shakespeare and other stuff in that range. (Can't think of them right now, where did my memory go? :) ).
When I applied for SSDI, Social Security sent me to a shrink for an evaluation of my cognitive functions. He stated that I had lost 70 points of my IQ based on the work that I did and what he came up with for my current IQ at the time. But I know my IQ was a lot higher than what the was the average for people doing my work was so I figure I lost even more than that. This was back in 1989.
Luckily I never got annoyed with others take a long time to learn things while I was in school. I got around that aspect by always having college level text books with me. So while the other kids were struggling with algebra I was studying calculus and ignoring my teacher. :) This drove my teachers crazy as they knew that I was ignoring them and that I was never doing the homework. But when it came to the tests I would always get 100 on them. I even did that while in college, though I did have to do some of the homework as they placed more weight on that than in the earlier years of my schooling.
With one of my last designs for a computer the processor had 192 bits for each instruction. I could look at those 192 ones and zeros and read it just as you read English. Now I can barely add two numbers and come up with the right answer.
And forget about memory. Some times I have trouble remembering how to spell my own name. In fact when I was applying for SSDI I had to have a woman at the SS office write my name so that I could copy it as I couldn't remember how to write my name.
I really don't doubt that we know when our cognitive status changes, though I suspect a lot of people don't really want to acknowledge it. I was very aware when it first came to my notice that something was cognitively off, though i didn't know the what or why of it back then. I was still in my 30's and had a plausible excuse because i'd been really sick - again, so it was very easy to not think it meant something more than what ever excuse i told my self.
I can still remember that day, like its an important mile stone in my life lol maybe it was in its own strange way, a heads up girl friend lol. It stood out because it was so odd for me, my youngest was in his first year of school and i'd made a strategic effort to get to know everyone involved with him. I got sick, and it took longer to get back to normal again, and I just couldn't remember any of his peoples names, not his teacher, his friends etc.
I spent weeks secretly working their names out and coming up with blurbs to prompt me eg madam lash was my cheat for his flamboyant, goth-ish high heeled boot wearing art teacher.... Mrs latch :o) I'd run a monologue of information about a person before i'd say their name or if i just couldn't get it, i'd call them something else like sweet heart or generic like your friend etc. It would get to a stage where it would be mostly gone, it was an on or off again thing that lasted months at a time, definitely weird but not remembering peoples names wasn't really that unusual.
I stopped coming up with excuses for it with my big bang of 09, i lost all nouns that time, it just wasn't something i could make excuses for or fake through any more. When you can't name the important people in your life, its not because your a little over tired etc. lol there were a few other big clues that my brain was on the fritz but prior to everything getting really bad in one big swoop, i never once thought it was actually my brain causing everything.
Anacdotal but there are a few of us here that are prior high IQ-ers, (openly called gifted over here) that have had significant losses of IQ points when tested. I have wondered, if cognitive issues have to be notable enough, to prompt cognitive testing because it still isn't standard testing. I dont know if it's possible for cognitive issues to stand out more or not, maybe the loss is greater the higher the IQ an individual is. Possible, considering losses that we are seeing are huge, if these kind of losses were happening to people with average IQ's, they'd be into the mentally retarded range, which if you think about it, is kind of scary.
I'm another brain atrophy person. In fact, above all else, that's what clinched my diagnosis. I've never been good at looking at MRIs, but I gather it's a general shrinkage rather than in any one area.
Actually I wasn't and haven't been aware of it. Maybe that's part of it, who knows :) But I haven't seen a decline in cognitive function, so I guess that's not inevitable. Complicating things is that everyone's brain shrinks with age, so it's quite normal. It's just a question of how much, relative to age.
People here have posted many ways around memory lapses and other brain dysfunction---lists, timers, cheat sheets and lots more. Maybe it's time for another discussion on this.
When you talked about your youngest child's teacher it reminded me of what was probably my most embracing incident in my life.
I was a math wizard all of my life and could do very complicated math in my head. When my daughter was in 5th grade she was having a lot of problems with some of her math homework and asked me to help her. Luckily she was able to do most of the problems by herself because ever problem I help her with had all wrong answers.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.