Please Hurry It Up, I Can’t Remember What You’re Talking About

Please Hurry It Up, I Can’t Remember What You’re Talking About

Sometimes when people with MS have mild cognitive difficulties, conversations can become challenging. Maybe you are trying to find words and that slows things down. Maybe you can’t get a word-in-edgewise and by the time you do have a chance to contribute, you’ve forgotten what you wanted to say or the conversation has moved through three other topics. That’s the moment that I usually have to decide just how important the thing I wanted to say is or was, or just remain politely silent and nod my head.

Then there are other times where my mind is going a mile a minute and I’m mentally evaluating and choosing which thoughts to grab onto and which ones might be appropriate for the conversation or task at hand. This type of thinking can make other activities such as meditation very difficult.

Ever since I was a young girl, I was good at multitasking and working my brain in two different directions at once. I used to be the kid who would read a book at family gatherings while listening to all of the grown-ups talk. Very rarely did I get immersed into a story so deeply that I lost track of what was going on around me.

Now I might read a page in a really good book and then wonder what in the world did I just read. I don’t know. My eyes were busy reading – and when I read, I mentally read aloud in my head – while my brain was busy thinking about other things.

It seems like when I’m listening to someone speak, perhaps a family member who is telling a story, I have trouble putting the entire story together unless he/she speeds it up a little. I find myself wanting to urge the person on to get to the point more quickly, otherwise I just might lose what the point is.

Ironically, if I occupy my brain at least a little bit, perhaps by working on a sudoku puzzle or just doing something with my hands, I can more easily relax and allow the person’s story to unfold at their own pace. I don’t feel like the details of the story are about to fall through my fingers like water through a sieve.

My mother-in-law loves to tell stories and when she does, she doesn’t really expect anybody to react, comment, or chime in while she’s talking. There’s no pressure to try to think of what to say or get it in before the topic changes. But to stay focused, I need to distract myself just a little bit.

I know it sounds totally backwards to think that I need to be slightly distracted in order to stay focused. But this is really only while listening to another person.

When I’m trying to stay focused on my own words, such as while I’m writing and typing at the computer, I need to avoid distraction. The worse thing that can happen while I’m on a role is to have someone come talk to me or ask me a question which requires a response. This is when my own thoughts jump through that mental sieve and become lost to the air. It’s enough to derail me for the time being.

I don’t know what others’ experiences are with regard to staying focused and on task. I’m be curious to know if anybody else has trouble following stories because they seem to take too long to unravel, or if anybody needs to keep their minds or hands busy while carrying on a conversation with loved ones in order to stay present.

Please share your own story in the comments. Maybe I’m just weird, or maybe this is more common than I know.

Lisa Emrich | Follow me on Facebook |Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Pinterest

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Comments

View Comments (33)
  • patrician
    2 years ago

    Hello Lisa,
    That was a great article.
    When you mentioned that you may use your hands to stay focused I realized that I too do the same thing. I am a constant doodler – If I am in a meeting, or on the phone I have to draw. It serves as some sort of ‘bridge’ that helps me stay focused on what is being said around me, or to me.
    Thank you so much for writing about this. You just opened my eyes to the fact that my drawing/doodling is a way for me to cope and learn to stay focused!

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Patricia,
    Thanks so much! It’s really nice to know that I’m not the only one who needs to do something to stay focused. I’m glad that doodling helps you. That sounds like fun.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Lisa

  • chrissy13
    2 years ago

    Hi there. You are not weird. I know what you are talking about. You have to concentrate on what you are doing. Other wise you have a brain fart right in the middle of what ever you were doing. Thanks for listening. Byeeeee

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi chrissy13,
    Thanks for sharing. You made me chuckle a bit. Yes, concentrating on what you are doing really does help keep your brain focused. 🙂
    Lisa

  • chalknpens
    2 years ago

    Boy, did you hit the nail on the head. You speak for more of us than most realize. Thank you – I’ve shared this post.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi chalknpens,
    Thank you so much for your comment. It’s nice to know that we are not alone. Also, thanks for sharing the post. I really appreciate that. 🙂
    Lisa

  • Angela
    3 years ago

    Not weird at all, Lisa. In fact, as I read this, I was thinking how you were inside of my brain, LOL. In addition to dealing with not being able to find words; trying to break into fast-moving conversations; and self-censoring comments because I’m never sure if they’re appropriate or add to the topic, I’m also struggling with low vocal tones, which makes it difficult for others to hear me, and speaking louder takes so much energy, I’m often just sitting there like I’m mute.

    I’d love to be able to make adjustments for this, but I’m really not sure where to begin. In a week, though, we’ll see what the speech pathologist has to say or to recommend on the latter.

    Thanks, Lisa, for sharing so clearly what some of us deal with. *HUGS*

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Angela,
    Thanks so much for your comment. It’s comforting to know that we are not alone. What did you learn from the speech pathologist? Are there strategies that you’ve found help?
    Lisa

  • Kelimac
    3 years ago

    Oh Angela, I can so relate to your comment regarding struggling with speaking low vocal tones, making it hard for others to hear you! Both my husband and former boss mention(Ed) this to me on so many occasions.

    Hope the speech pathologist is able to give you some tips / techniques to help this struggle.

    I think the worst part is when even I lose interest in what I’m trying to say because it is so difficult to get coherent thoughts out! Just have to laugh and pray people understand.

    I also struggle with following a conversation when I’m in a noisy or busy environment. A loud restaurant or gathering place is truly a nightmare for me. I smile A LOT and nod my head, but I promise you, I have no idea what is being said!!

  • Lisa M
    3 years ago

    I now have trouble with long stories, I do this thing when I feel myself slipping, I say “broad strokes please” as I wave my my hand in a circle…people who know me, know that means…hurry up, your losing me ; )

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Lisa,
    I like that; having a visual motion to help your friends know. That’s great. Thanks for sharing.
    Lisa

  • Babydoll4god
    3 years ago

    Nice post and put almost like how I feel. The people talking not getting to the point quick enough is funny, because I noticed this past year im not as patient and if they’re to details and take to King I loose focus or get agrivated. Maybe an MS trait?

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Babydoll4god,
    Based on the comments, I think that perhaps this truly is an MS trait. It’s comforting to know that we are not alone. 🙂
    Lisa

  • SSymons
    3 years ago

    I share part of your experience. Yes, I forget what I just read on one page, which makes it very difficult to read or even follow a movie even. And I know what you are saying about “getting to the point” BUT I have trouble when people speak too quickly. I can not process the information quick enough. Does anyone else have this problem?

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi SSymons,
    When people speak too quickly and fail to pause, I find it difficult to process what they are saying at times. I will sometimes have to interrupt my husband to create a pause in the conversation. Please know that you are definitely not alone.
    Lisa

  • Jan
    3 years ago

    My husband often has long-winded pauses when he talks. To keep it alive, sometimes I try to fill in the gap. If the ellipse is long enough, his phone will ring. Eventually, I’ll have started to lose the thread.

  • Gary
    3 years ago

    I seem to have the opposite problem of not talking fast enough and that is when people talk too fast I can’t comprehend the full point of the conversation. Sometimes I wish I could just rewind back a few sentences and listen to what was said again. What I find very irritating is watching the news and weather reports on television. I know the announcer has a limited time for each of their segments but they are talking so fast I often rewind the DVR and listen again at my own pace.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Gary,
    When talking with my husband, I find myself interjecting every so often to back up the conversation. It helps but is sometimes awkward as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.
    Lisa

  • Tracey
    3 years ago

    I am forever using my “pause” button at well when I’m watching the weather or news…I’ll pause when the 7 day forecast rolls up (to me, very quickly)so I can look at each day and try to commit to memory (ha ha). I have Type 2 Diabetes as well and when the Diabetes Summit rolls around on-line each year I’m ready with my pencil, paper and my pause button so that I can take notes of the things people are talking about. They are speaking at a normal rate. My brain just can’t keep up. It is listen, pause, write down what they just that moment said, replay, pause, fill in the blanks…like listening to the segment over and over again. Like walking the dog that runs up ahead and runs back to you. Runs up ahead, and then back to you. He’s getting a triple walk in the time you got one done!

  • potter
    3 years ago

    I have been having a hard time following long winded conversations. I am going to try to keep my hands busy and see if that helps. Thanks Denice

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Denice,
    Has it worked for you, keeping your hands busy?
    Lisa

  • DJDave
    3 years ago

    OMG! I have that same experience all the time. I’ll be sitting in a meeting with something to contribute, but by the time everyone shuts up and I get a chance, I totally forgot what I was going to say. Its a very frustrating experience when that happens, especially in the workplace, because then you feel like everyone thinks you’re not interested because you’re not participating in the discussion.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    MisterD,
    That’s a tough one. I’ve found that if I’m in a group meeting, I often have to write notes to myself to try to keep those thoughts in mind. Helps sometimes.
    Lisa

  • Devin Garlit moderator
    3 years ago

    I too tend to looks down, at my phone or something, when I want to hear and absorb what someone is saying. I know it looks like I’m ignoring them but it’s the complete opposite. For me, doing that creates a controllable experience, looking down at something else ensures I won’t be distracted, which can happen very quickly if my head is up looking around.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Devin,
    There have been times that I will simply close my eyes when I’m trying to do things like talk to someone on the phone. It also helps to reduce distraction. 🙂
    Lisa

  • chelala
    3 years ago

    I have a weekly phone call with my dad and I have to be on my phone playing a game or browsing Facebook while talking to him or else I can’t focus on what he’s saying. I thought it was just me and him. Ha! Thanks MS. Glad to know I’m not alone in this.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    chelala,
    That’s great. Thanks for sharing!
    Lisa

  • LoLo*
    3 years ago

    Definitely couldn’t have described it better myself. It’s a relief, yet a bit terrifying to know it is a part of MS. Sometime I think if I do t acknowledge it, that it’s really not happening. Maybe makes no sense, but sat least I know I’m not imagining things.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    LoLo,
    Thank you so much for your comment. It is good to know that we are not alone.
    Lisa

  • Bkehr
    3 years ago

    It’s like the story of my life. I’m glad I can laugh about these things, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in that. 🙂

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Bkehr,
    I agree that it does make it easier to laugh about it. 🙂
    Lisa

  • Matt Allen G
    3 years ago

    I can relate to every single word here, this is “just life” for me now, it’s not just you haha….

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    2 years ago

    Thanks, Matt

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