All right, already. I get it. You age. You lose inches. I was 5’7”. Now I am 5’5”. Does this mean there is a corresponding loss of gray matter in my brain?
Please relax and follow my thoughts as best you can.
My lovely Doctor takes very good care of me. He will not allow me to read any of my test results. He understands the high level of anxiety I operate under, aka neurotic lady, and knows any test results sent to me will be read as a death sentence. Therefore, he promises he will interpret my test results and call me. Like I said… a good guy.
A few days ago, he changed the routine of my blood pressure pills. Tell me if this is too much information. A few days ago, I watched some television, got into bed, read, and after an hour or so, fell asleep. 🎶Hitchcockian spooky chord🎶
I awoke with a start. It was 11:30 P.M. Shoot me! I go to bed early. 🎶another spooky chord🎶
First silently, then aloud:
Me: Did I take my evening pills? 🎶the most chillingest spooky chord🎶
And then began the evening from Hell. As I age, the levels of stress don’t just creep up on me anymore. They jump, leap and pole vault into world breaking Olympic records of anxiety.
I think passing a certain age, for me 85, for people of my heightened sensibilities, (nicer sounding than “nutcase”), closing my eyes brings about many nights of Hell.
It’s not that complicated.
If I close my eyes tonight, will I open my eyes tomorrow?
I wish I could say this is a new phenomenon for me. But I have always had a little of the Angel of Death from Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’ Two Thousand Year Old Man in me. I imagine I sleep wearing a bejeweled necklace of peeled garlic. As Mel Brooks would tell it, “Vel, the Angel from death, flies in. Takes one whiff from my necklace. Feh! Flies right back out again. And I am good for another night.”
The night when I couldn’t remember if I took my pills I went through my DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES scenario. However, a new subtext was added to my already high anxiety. First the inches? Now the memory?
My whole life, as an actress and writer, is predicated on MEMORY. And I was good at it. I never had any difficulties. There was the usual opening night nervous actor’s nightmare of standing on stage, mouth open, no words coming out… panic personified. But this wasn’t a nightmare. This was real. I thought about all those times I listened to friends complain about memory lapses. I always had what I thought were words of logical comfort.
Me: Stop! You are not losing it. Remember, the brain can only absorb so much information. As it absorbs new information, it has to release old information to make room for the new. Right? You don’t know what information the brain released. Right? So of course you can’t remember. Because the brain released that information. It isn’t there anymore. Right? You can’t possibly remember what you don’t know. Right? Feel better???
Somehow that convoluted rationale doesn’t work anymore. What a surprise! This new stage of my life is giving me a real run for my money. What I mean is on certain days of the week, when a new twinge twinges or a I can’t remember if I took my pills, it frightens me. Then I remember what one of my many therapists said to me. Don’t laugh. Every stage of life required an ”at-that-stage-of-life” therapy.
Me: I’m afraid.
Fear of death Therapist: Can you talk about it?
Me: I don’t have enough money. You don’t have enough time.
Fear of death Therapist: You do know that fear and excitement have exactly the same physical characteristics. Heart pounds, pulse quickens, breath is short. Choose excitement!
Me: Excuse me…???
Fear of death Therapist: You can choose fear. You can choose excitement. CHOOSE EXCITEMENT!!!
I forgot she said that. Not because I had a brain blip. But because fear clogged my brain arteries. As long as I can do it, it is my job to unclog those arteries. Let in the light. I guess It’s time to get out the shovel, dig deeper into awareness and acceptance… one more time. No matter how much I try to hold back the dawn, I continue to change. A euphemism for the aging process. I know I have no idea how many more changes are left for me. I also know if someone tells me one more time the only constant is change, we are done, finished, kaput.
Just to keep you in the loop, I forgot to take my pills that night. Spoiler alert! I am still here, a sadder but wiser girl.
This particular change is difficult for me. I am loathe to surrender my memory advantage. In an argument or discussion, it has always been my get-out-of-jail card. It is difficult to be judgmental and opinionated if you don’t have the facts as I see them, right???
Of course, right!!!
P.S. Take a look at how Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in the film, Gigi handle their memory lapses. All to say, be kind to others and mostly to yourself.