When I was at university a group of my friends gave me the nickname boffin (for those outside the UK please use this link for an explanation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boffin) due to my ability to grasp complex facts or theories very quickly. It was also because quite often I would do excessive extra reading for subjects. When I was working in my management position (which seems like a lifetime ago) I was known for being able to regurgitate facts and figures after a quick scan of documents, quite often I would be handed briefing packs to read and then give a high level overview to the rest of the team.
That all disappeared when I became sick, my memory just shrivelled up and died. I couldn’t tell you what the day of the week was or the shift I was working. I simply couldn’t think straight anymore and my power of recall just disappeared. It has been something that has always really bothered me as I had a vast knowledge of historical facts and general knowledge. I used to absorb information like a sponge.I loved dazzling Jay with my knowledge when we watched quiz shows together. Now I can’t tell you what the main characters are called that were in the TV programme I have just watched, on a really bad day I couldn’t even tell you the name of the programme.
However something really weird has happened over the last few weeks since giving up dairy 5 weeks ago and gluten on January 1st ( I have no idea if this is relevant at all but it’s the only major change I have had in my life) all of a sudden I feel more present rather than being enveloped in a bubble of fog. Yes I still use the wrong words for things, still ask for the wrong thing to be brought to me and look for my phone…...when its in my hand. Those things haven’t changed at all, what has changed is my ability to access my long-term memory. Before I literally couldn’t pull any information from the dark recesses of my mind, if I learned some piece of general knowledge more than a few months ago the details I would be able to recall would be hazy at best or nonexistent. Now for some reason I am beginning to recall information which is really bizarre.
Jay and I tend to watch Pointless (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointless ) and Eggheads (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggheads_(TV_series) ) whilst we are eating our dinner if we don’t have any cookery shows recorded. Once in a blue moon whilst watching these shows I would get an answer right, a cause for celebration as it was so rare. Most of the time I knew the facts were in there I just couldn’t unscramble the information it was like the decoder and connections were missing. It was particularly bad if you had to put names to famous faces. I knew they were famous but their names would elude me.
Over the last few weeks my ability to recall information has become a lot better. I am nowhere near the ability I had before I got sick but from the level where I was at this is a massive improvement. During numerous episodes of Pointless I have been able to answer every question on the board (apart from anagrams but I have always been shite at those unless I have pen and paper in front of me), I have also been able to put names to the famous faces. The improvement has been unbelievable, Jay has been laughing and telling me “You're on fire”. It makes me feel good when I can answer the questions as I had been feeling like my cognitive function had been declining rapidly I wondered if I would ever stabilise or get some of my thinking power back. This improvement has shown me that it’s still all there, I accept it will never probably be back to the previous 2007 and before level but it’s a massive improvement all the same.
Last year was particularly bad for my memory, much of the year passed me by in a blur due to the pain levels I was experiencing and amount of painkillers I was taking. However the painkillers reduced from before Christmas and it's now the 21st March. I was beginning to know exactly what it meant when someone said they couldn’t think straight. If it had been down to pain and the medication I would've expected the improvement in my recall and memory to have happened much sooner after Christmas.
Maybe it’s been a combination of reduced head pain / medication and the change in my diet? Who knows, without proof it’s difficult to say and what has worked for me may not work for others but I am almost back to Boffin status.
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Neurology CSF Leak update
I finally saw my neurologist this week and I have been officially discharged from his care, with instructions should the leak re-occur I am to be immediately referred back to him. He was genuinely chuffed that my leak has cleared up on its own and we spent much of my appointment talking about how difficult it can be to get a diagnosis of a CSF Leak and other conditions and how hard it is for patients when there is something wrong with them but they are met with medical professionals that insist that it's all in their heads.
He was explaining that many of his CSF Leak patients have spent a lot of time being pushed from one medical speciality to another whilst their doctors try to work out what is wrong with them. We both feel that I was very lucky my GP was so on the ball ( I miss you Dr J!) and recognised that the awful head pain I was suffering with was a low pressure headache. He said that many of his patients have spent months of not years waiting for someone to realise this was the case.
It’s so nice to have met this consultant and his team who have gone above and beyond to help me. Thank you.