Friday, March 6, 2009

Lack of Supermarket Memory



It takes me roughly 40 minutes to drive to or from town. This afternoon, on my way home, I spent practically all that time worrying about my memory. I wasn't distracted by crazy drivers, road works, flooded stream (it did rain heavily last night) anything.

This isn't the first time I've given a bit of thought to my bad memory but it's the first I've spent such time dwelling on the matter.

On an almost daily basis I will spend time looking for something I've just had in my hand. I can get quite cross with myself and have conversations with the fairies - "I had it here a minute ago - where the hell has it got to?" The fairies remain silent. Usually I just shrug and tell myself the fairies moved it and it will turn up again, don't worry about it now. And sure enough most times the missing item will reappear and then I will remember putting it there. But not always, sometimes they re-appear in the strangest of places.

This is not a new thing. One of the reasons I don't worry about it is I can honestly say it's been happening since I was in my 40s, so no need for panic. Justine may remember the time I lost a pair of pantyhose I had bought that day and intended to wear out that night. She was about 15, so over 15 years ago. I searched the house high and low, I knew I had made the purchase because I could visualise putting them on the checkout counter.

I involved Justine in the hunt and when our joint efforts failed, I accused her of taking them to wear herself. She very indignantly went off in a huff, not that I blamed her, she was always honest about "borrowing" anything of mine. (Oh, the good old days, when there was someone else around to blame!)

The following night Justine called me to the kitchen, highly amused about something. "Mum, I've just found your missing pantyhose." And showed me the tub of icecream with my stockings frozen to the top! Who would have thought to look in the deep freeze?

At the time I would have blamed my genes. (What's with the blaming thing?) What is commonly known within my family as the "defective Ward gene" and my brother Peter calls the rough gene. Maybe it could be more simply called a "vague" gene. Most of my siblings and I can be a bit vague at times. Then I tell myself it is that gene that makes most of us such good natured, casual creatures. And I'd rather be forgetful than a grumpy sharp tack.

But today I visited the supermarket that, for over a year and until nine months ago I had frequented roughly twice a week, once for my groceries and at least once a week on an errand from work. I could zap in and out of that place in no time. (I do not enjoy any kind of shopping with grocery shopping being at the bottom of the list.) But today nothing was familiar! No, I lie, the fruit and vegies department, the first area you come to upon entering, and the frozen goods, the last you come to, were where they should be.

I had eight items on my list and I was in that store for 35 minutes!!

Is that reasonable? And, honestly, I only spent about 5 minutes talking to a lady I nearly ran over with the trolley when I didn't notice her bending down to the lowest shelf right in front of me.

I've been so concerned because my memory usually works on the visual. I've learnt how to read a map but I usually find my way around by recognizing landmarks. I never remember street names but I will remember the name of the store on the corner or the tree outside the white house. I have dreadful trouble every time I return to Brisbane because they will keep changing roads , taking out trees (or maybe they just grew old and died - my memory, like me, goes back a long way) and although I set out confidently to go somewhere I've been before there will be a new road, or even worse, an expressway, the landmarks will be gone and I'm done for.

So, for someone who remembers how things look, shouldn't those supermarket isles be imprinted in my memory? How could they be gone so quickly?

I came home convinced my memory is deteriorating rapidly. I searched the internet for help.

One article said that taking a 6 minute nap during the daytime would give my memory a quick and easy boost. The nap can be longer (thank heavens for that, there is no such thing as a 6 min nap in my book) but the benefit occurs after just 6 mins. Daytime nappers outperform non-nappers on memory exercises. They said that falling asleep triggered a neurobiological process that gives your brain a boost. I'm not sure if I buy that. Aren't older people the ones who nap most often? And isn't failing memory most often an age related thing?

Another article listed foods that can help. So if I treat that as gospel the only things I should add to my diet are nuts and seeds and Microalgae. Algae? There's no way I'm getting into that! Oh, and 2 cups of green tea. To wash down the algae?

Then, a wonderful thought occurred to me and I gave up the quest.

Maybe, just maybe, the supermarket has been rearranged. I read somewhere that a chain of stores is standarising their stores throughout the country so that no matter where you go into one of their stores, things will be in the same place.

Now, my memory is in overload trying to remember what the chain was!




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