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Do You Remember?

Do You Remember?

I wanted to touch base (again) on the whole memory issue with MS, because that has been a really big issue for me lately. (Previous Article: Disability Stereotype)

I’ve come to find that my MS has a ‘selective memory’. Meaning, I don’t forget everything that is said to me, for instance. However, there are ‘blanks’ in some of those memories. I can remember talking to someone, what we discussed, but there are key parts that my brain just seems to erase.

This can be frustrating to people we interact with, on how we can’t remember certain things. I just sit there and I’m like, “Yeah, I know it’s frustrating… try dealing with it!” But I don’t want to let out my frustrations on those I care about.

I’ve come to find that with the hotter months here in Texas, my memory took a huge change for the worse. My husband would ask me something, and not even 2 minutes later, I forgot what he asked me. It’s kind of like, getting up to go to the kitchen to get something, but once you’re in there… you forgot what you came to get.

I know many people, that don’t even have MS, deal with forgetting what they came into the kitchen for… and it’s funny to laugh it off. But do you know how frustrating it is, to go through that feeling every single day, multiple times?

Sometimes, when I forget about something, it’s not that it actually slipped my mind. For example, if I have something coming up, on a certain date or time… I know it’s coming up. I’ve prepared myself to go to the appointment, event, whatever it might be. But then my mind decides to play tricks on me… get caught up and forget the time. I don’t even remember what day or date it is sometimes. Yeah, I know… I can just look at my phone. But by the time I get around to doing that, I probably forgot what I was checking it for in the first place.

Before you say anything, yes… I write things down. I put them in my phone, I do everything I can… but I have to remember to look at these things. Do I set an alert on my phone or computer calendar? Yes I do… but if I’m in the middle of something, I’ll just dismiss it thinking, “Okay, I’ll remember that.” But in the long run… I completely forget.

This is all something that I file under my cognitive issues aka “Cog-Fog”. Do you now how bad it is that I was searching for my cell phone, to leave the house to go somewhere… when I was talking on it? I didn’t voice that I was looking for it out loud… I was just getting SO frustrated because I couldn’t find it. I will be looking for my sunglasses, and they’re on my head. The list can go on and on. Yeah, it’s funny to talk about now… but it was extremely frustrating at the time. Then I just got to feeling pathetic afterwards, that I did something so ridiculous in the first place.

Same thing goes for; “Oh did I take that medicine yet? I can’t remember… “, So what should I do? Yes, I’ve used a ‘pill box’ before… but guess what? I kept forgetting to refill it! Take in to account that I have two young kids, that I don’t want to be able to get into the pillbox… and I seem to be always on the run, it’s easier for me personally, to not use a pillbox. Cause my daytime meds; I need with me when I’m out and about.

Now, let me clarify that I’m not sitting here just whining and complaining about this issue. I’m sitting here writing this out, because I want everyone to know that I’ve been through it too. Sometimes, when I’m sitting here writing even, I’ll think of something that I need to do but I don’t want to leave what I’m writing, because I don’t want to lose my train of thought. Well, guess what… I end up forgetting what I needed to do, while I was writing. But if you look at it a certain way, It’s a ‘lose, lose’ situation… because I either forget what I needed to do, or I forget what I wanted to write about.

When I’ve lost something, I will literally go back and re-trace my steps… I even do this if I forgot about something I thought up, hoping that retracing my steps will jog my memory. This sometimes works, but not all the time. Mainly because I don’t remember the stupid steps I took in the first place.

Doesn’t this sound frustrating? For those people who DO NOT have a chronic illness, they try and ‘relate’ to this subject… by making it seem like it’s not that big of a deal, and it’s not just MS; Talking about it like everyone goes through this. You’re right, everyone DOES go through this. However, do they go through it on such a regular basis? Do they forget really important things?

Let me just do a comparison here. Because before I had cog-fog, before my diagnosis of MS… I had a really good memory at some point; like photographic memory almost. Did it disappear? Did the MRI machine eat it? Does that ‘good memory’ quality now have a big fat white lesion covering it now?

I think one of the biggest lies I tell myself sometimes is, “Oh I can remember that; I don’t need to write it down.” **rolls eyes** I sometimes think I need to have a post it note permanently attached to my hand or something, so that I can write things down that I need to remember that day, and I can’t really miss it on my hand… right? I would hope not.


Ashley Ringstaff

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • janetwintojoan
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the great article.I had an instance where I couldn’t remember my daughters married last name and she has been married for 10 years. I just got a jury duty summons and asked my neuro to write an excuse because of my memory issues. He wouldn’t. I was very disapointed by that and asked my primary care Dr to write one.Sometimes MS makes you feel like a 2 year old.

  • @masbrautigam
    3 years ago

    Is this maybe why I can’t learn French? Been in this vountry for 7 yrs and all i can do is basic conversation but i can understand everything:(
    Figured no point to have lessons anymore.
    When i was a child my memory was not that great either

  • @masbrautigam
    3 years ago

    Great article and i had to laugh.
    I live with post it notes in the kitchen and I always get tgings that i have to do while in bed. So frustrating as my post it notes are in the kitchen,so i need to text myself what I can’t forget. My phone is next to me.
    What i hate is in public,shen they treat you like you are crazy.

  • itasara
    4 years ago

    I thought you wrote this blog on memory about me! I know that my memory has become compromised more so in the last few years and getting worse.
    Although I think I have always (at least most of my life) had some difficulty with disorganization, losing things, forgetting things, daydreaming, etc. Makes me wonder if I had some form of ADD or ADHD (although some of that is overrated in my mind) from childhood or maybe I had MS a lot longer than I knew..I was 57 when I first had a reason to get diagnosed. Memorization was never great for most of my life, but I remember that was able to memorize musical pieces, but now it is a lost cause. Some music I learned a long time ago has stuck with me, but I often forget words of songs I knew most of my life. It isn’t that I don’t know them, I just forget them.Being that I am a singer, it is very frustrating. I’ve tried to take a phrase in a song and go over it over it and over it. I finally have it and then a few minutes later I can’t remember it, especially with foreign languages. Names, aways a problem, but now I see someones face in my head or a picture or someone on TV and I can’t think of their name. Then later on the name may come to me. I assume some of the blame goes to MS cognitive issues, but then I see my husband, who is about 3 years my senior, forgets names now and then and where he puts things, and he does not have MS.

  • clsuhre
    4 years ago

    My lapses are a little different. It’s as though each fact lives in a brain cell, accessible by a pathway. Sometimes, the path to the cell is just… gone. Like the paving’s been pulled up. When I describe the word I’m looking for (like “apprehensive”), usually my friend will say, “You mean, ‘apprehensive’?” and voila! the paving is back. I seldom lose the same word twice. I have forgotten the name of my street, and that of a favorite musician, and my husband’s business trip destination. “Forgetting what I came in here for” feels like what ordinary middle-age people do and joke about. The first time I lost a brain cell, it really disturbed me. Now I feel like I know what to do about it.

  • itasara
    4 years ago

    I like your description of losing a path to a specific memory or word. You said you feel like you know what to do when you lose a brain cell… so I ask what is that you know what to do!! Does anyone know if the suppliments for “memory” work for them? I take a lot of suppliments and a one or two for memory, but I’m not sure they make a difference.

  • Prairiekim
    4 years ago

    This is my day in a nutshell! You have hit it spot on especially how everyone will say they experience that memory loss as well. Any more I just don’t say anything and hope I can cover my lapse. i’ve also tried all the memory tips but have had similar results. I know it’s frustrating for my husband and family but it’s not like I do this on purpose! thanks for validating my experiences–I’m not the only one

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