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I feel like I'm losing my mind (memory)
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I feel like I'm losing my mind (memory)

I am a 35 yr. old woman, have 3 kids and began having memory loss problems last year. I've had headaches since 2007 (which I assume was caused by a head injury/trauma from 2006 but that has not been determined). My youngest child is almost 2 yrs. old and during pregnancy I know some women experience memory problems and even after (but it goes away within a yr.) I did not have any memory loss during any of my pregnancies but instead developed it a yr. AFTER this last one. I'm confused alot, forget WAY too many things, get lost (even when its somewhere I've been thousands of times before), lose things constantly...... I've told my Dr. but she obviously doesn't feel there is a problem. I'm concerned because I don't want these symptoms to become so bad that it causes me to be unable to care for my toddler or other children or function normally on a day-to-day basis. Can someone please tell me if these are symptoms of dementia/alzheimers? Thank you.
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Dear Larace Girl,
No, you are not experiencing Dementia or Alzheimers.  Rather you are experiencing Persistent Post Concussive Syndrome.  While most people who experience a concussion only have symptoms for around six months, there are plenty more who have them for years.  Your headaches come from it, as you already know, and while your memory problems surfaced later, that symptom is also one that belongs to your PPCS.

I will point out something to you, though, that may help you with this memory thing.  Notice how you have three children now, and you began to forget some things, and you amp the situation all the way up to a full-blown concern of not being able to care for your kids.  This intensifies your forgetfulness.  I would strongly suggest, if you can set aside some cash, to have a qualified nurse come in a couple days a week to help you with your children.  This will give you the reassurance on the issue of what will happen to your children, because that person could care for them if you really get under the weather.  People have nannies, RNs, all sorts of sitters for their kids, and depending on how responsible and knowledgeable they are, is how much your confidence will return on this issue.  

There are many ways to treat Post Concussive Syndrome, and I find the docs to be treating symptoms and not what has actually happened within the brain, which obviously is a mystery.  But so many people have this that hopefully one day researchers will figure all this out.  In the meantime, these are the things I would suggest you do.  I am not a physician, but I have many health issues, and so I kinda have a handle on what helps.  However, whatever specialist you get hooked up with will have his own ideas, so he is the gatekeeper for all this.

First, you should ask your doc to refer you to a neurologist or whomever he thinks can help you best, and get a CT scan done of your brain again, just to make sure nothing unusual is going on, particularly as compared to the scan done when you were first injured, if the pictures are still around or at least the radiology report.

Second, you should have your regular doc do a blood draw and send it off to the lab to look for your nutrient numbers, like your vitamins, electrolytes, that sort of thing.  Also, the same bloodwork can do a glandular look-see, like how your thyroid is doing.  In addition, general docs have a device that when they do the typical blood pressure and temp stuff, they now also do a test to see what your oxygenation level are in your body.  Also, I think your blood pressure number they give is something you should write down, as well as your pulse rate, and bring it up to the doc.  Keep track of that situation.  The doctor should also make sure your sugars are within normal ranges.

Third, you should be aware that sometimes people who get headaches and migraines, who take over-the-counter meds, will sometimes wind up with headaches worse than they started out with, and in fact can make headaches go on and on and on.  But you have to be slow in "getting off" or lowering the dose on any of those.  In addition, if these headaches are rather bad, this can figure into your MEMORY situation, because when folks are in pain, they cannot concentrate as well as they normally do.  This I know from personal experience, as I am in pain all the time, my neuro explained how it can ruin your focus.  

As relates to headache stuff like aspirin, there ARE other drugs that your doc or referred specialist doc might want to try with you, and I'd like to suggest a few that I believe might be really good for your situation:  Lyrica or its generic pregabalin (not Neurontin) helps anxiety, sleep, pain, and sometimes migraines; or the medicine plain old ordinary Valium which tranquilizes a person and makes them feel better, BUT it CAN cause a little depression, so pay attention to that side effect; or Beta Blockers like atenolol will short-circuit the brain's anxiety response and curtail feelings of fear and dread.

And fourth and last, relaxation is a huge help for anyone with lots of health issues, and this can be done I think the best by things like acupuncture, or yoga, or meditation.  You can meditate easily by either staring at a reflective glass object in the windowsill or listening to instrumental electronic music, and deliberately emptying your mind of all thoughts, which takes some doing, and then close your eyes and do one of two things:  1.  Ask the "universe" what is your biggest problem right now, and the answer will come to you rather quickly, or  2.  Just simply daydream and let your mind wander to a pleasant place, and just stay there a while.  On top of all those ideas, deep breathing and good posture are things you should practice throughout the day.

I hope some of this information helps you a little.  This is a terrible thing for anybody to have to go through, PPCS has wrecked many people's lives, and they take this medicine or try that therapy and yet are stuck with the symptoms for years.  But there are those who actually do get control over the symptoms and improve a lot and actually return to normal, and this is usually by trying person-specific modalities of treatments of symptoms.  I hope that happens for you.  Let us know how things go for you.  And please, do not try to be perfect, which means let some things go, and remember, lots of people forget things...it's just some people notice it more.  (For example, people actually and generally do not pay close attention in our rush-rush world, and so we always put keys in the same place, park the same spot at the grocery store... .)  GG
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Dear Larace Girl,
No, you are not experiencing Dementia or Alzheimers.  Rather you are experiencing Persistent Post Concussive Syndrome.  While most people who experience a concussion only have symptoms for around six months, there are plenty more who have them for years.  Your headaches come from it, as you already know, and while your memory problems surfaced later, that symptom is also one that belongs to your PPCS.

I will point out something to you, though, that may help you with this memory thing.  Notice how you have three children now, and you began to forget some things, and you amp the situation all the way up to a full-blown concern of not being able to care for your kids.  This intensifies your forgetfulness.  I would strongly suggest, if you can set aside some cash, to have a qualified nurse come in a couple days a week to help you with your children.  This will give you the reassurance on the issue of what will happen to your children, because that person could care for them if you really get under the weather.  People have nannies, RNs, all sorts of sitters for their kids, and depending on how responsible and knowledgeable they are, is how much your confidence will return on this issue.  

There are many ways to treat Post Concussive Syndrome, and I find the docs to be treating symptoms and not what has actually happened within the brain, which obviously is a mystery.  But so many people have this that hopefully one day researchers will figure all this out.  In the meantime, these are the things I would suggest you do.  I am not a physician, but I have many health issues, and so I kinda have a handle on what helps.  However, whatever specialist you get hooked up with will have his own ideas, so he is the gatekeeper for all this.

First, you should ask your doc to refer you to a neurologist or whomever he thinks can help you best, and get a CT scan done of your brain again, just to make sure nothing unusual is going on, particularly as compared to the scan done when you were first injured, if the pictures are still around or at least the radiology report.

Second, you should have your regular doc do a blood draw and send it off to the lab to look for your nutrient numbers, like your vitamins, electrolytes, that sort of thing.  Also, the same bloodwork can do a glandular look-see, like how your thyroid is doing.  In addition, general docs have a device that when they do the typical blood pressure and temp stuff, they now also do a test to see what your oxygenation level are in your body.  Also, I think your blood pressure number they give is something you should write down, as well as your pulse rate, and bring it up to the doc.  Keep track of that situation.  The doctor should also make sure your sugars are within normal ranges.

Third, you should be aware that sometimes people who get headaches and migraines, who take over-the-counter meds, will sometimes wind up with headaches worse than they started out with, and in fact can make headaches go on and on and on.  But you have to be slow in "getting off" or lowering the dose on any of those.  In addition, if these headaches are rather bad, this can figure into your MEMORY situation, because when folks are in pain, they cannot concentrate as well as they normally do.  This I know from personal experience, as I am in pain all the time, my neuro explained how it can ruin your focus.  

As relates to headache stuff like aspirin, there ARE other drugs that your doc or referred specialist doc might want to try with you, and I'd like to suggest a few that I believe might be really good for your situation:  Lyrica or its generic pregabalin (not Neurontin) helps anxiety, sleep, pain, and sometimes migraines; or the medicine plain old ordinary Valium which tranquilizes a person and makes them feel better, BUT it CAN cause a little depression, so pay attention to that side effect; or Beta Blockers like atenolol will short-circuit the brain's anxiety response and curtail feelings of fear and dread.

And fourth and last, relaxation is a huge help for anyone with lots of health issues, and this can be done I think the best by things like acupuncture, or yoga, or meditation.  You can meditate easily by either staring at a reflective glass object in the windowsill or listening to instrumental electronic music, and deliberately emptying your mind of all thoughts, which takes some doing, and then close your eyes and do one of two things:  1.  Ask the "universe" what is your biggest problem right now, and the answer will come to you rather quickly, or  2.  Just simply daydream and let your mind wander to a pleasant place, and just stay there a while.  On top of all those ideas, deep breathing and good posture are things you should practice throughout the day.

I hope some of this information helps you a little.  This is a terrible thing for anybody to have to go through, PPCS has wrecked many people's lives, and they take this medicine or try that therapy and yet are stuck with the symptoms for years.  But there are those who actually do get control over the symptoms and improve a lot and actually return to normal, and this is usually by trying person-specific modalities of treatments of symptoms.  I hope that happens for you.  Let us know how things go for you.  And please, do not try to be perfect, which means let some things go, and remember, lots of people forget things...it's just some people notice it more.  (For example, people actually and generally do not pay close attention in our rush-rush world, and so we always put keys in the same place, park the same spot at the grocery store... .)  GG
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Thank you. I will ask my Dr. about what you said and see what she says about it. The head trauma was mild from 2006 and I was only taken to the hospital for xrays (of course was told was normal then) and have had 3-4 MRI in the past 3 years (which my last Dr. said there was a small thing on it that seemed somewhat not normal but he felt was due to my headaches/migraines and was supposed to refer to neurologist but never did and since I didn't like the quality of care I received from him I switched to another Dr. I like her and she has referred me to a neurologist but because it's at a charity/learning hospital I am on a waiting list and who knows how long it'll be before I'm seen. My last and present Dr. both had given me pain medications (I've been on quite a few and none have helped, not even the OTC headache pills). But I will look into this more and discuss more with my Dr. so that this can be treated more effectively because it is really scary to be driving somewhere and totally forget where I'm going, where I am, what I was doing, etc. Please friend me if you don't mind. Thanks!
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I guess I never friended becuz I didn't understand the concept or what it means on this forum.  But feel free to message me by one time clicking on my name, it'll take you to my page where it says you can "messsage" me, and it'll start our own thread within this forum.  Whenever you send a message, or add another reply to our thread, I am alerted at my email address that I check every couple days and I can respond back and forth with you.  I've talked to people a pretty long ways with that, I just respond and off it goes, one message on top of the other.

I find it quite interesting about the place on your earlier MRIs, I imagine whenever you get in to see the neuro on the waiting list that he'll be able to understand what it is.  I hope you can get the MRI or the report from whatever bunch did the MRI to bring with you to the neuro, altho he'll probably want to do yet another one.  But could be even tho it's there, not much to be done except treat your symptoms, unless there has been a change if he does a new MRI.

I meant to tell you how important sleep is, it can make a person be riding along in a car, just like you're saying, and not be certain about where in the world they are.  This has happened to me when I wasn't sleeping well, and husband too.  We both have bad backs, and at the time we were working way too hard, and apparently lack of sleep made us this way for a while.  Perhaps the neuro will find a medicine that will help your headaches AND help you sleep a little better.  Melatonin is at health food stores, they come in a little bottle of capsules, it imitates the stuff in our skin that develops from sunlight.  I took it for a while at bedtime just so I could let my thoughts go and fall asleep, which it worked like a charm and I did much better, and eventually I just set them aside.  The meds I have now really knock me out, so no need for it.  BUT if sleep is indeed a bit of an issue, you could try it, just tell your regular doc if you try it.  

Keep in mind that if this is a major issue that I'm unaware of, the neurologist you will eventually see will know if it is or not, and can come up with a treatment plan just for you, to help you do much better.  GG
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