Slow Down, You Move Too Fast…

That would be almost believable with the things I have done lately, but moving fast just isn’t within my reach with physical activity, but it might be possible that I am mentally racing and need to pace myself better. I think I need to slow down and I have to admit up front that this might have nothing at all to do with my multiple sclerosis.

I’ve been making a string of what I call mindless mistakes – and have to wonder where my mind has checked out to …. Today for lunch I decided to reheat this bit of leftover chicken pot pie from my local chicken restaurant, you know the one that has daily specials. Not wanting it to go to waste, I popped it into the microwave to reheat, then I went to the basement to move a load of laundry to the dryer and came back up as the microwave signaled it was done. I reached in for the dish and immediately remembered that it came in an aluminum tin, and metal and microwaves don’t mix. I have to wonder what fireworks show I missed inside the oven by not being in the room, but fortunately it appears it still works even though I violated the cardinal rule of no metal.

The other day we went through the drive-through at the bank to make a deposit. There were only four checks and I had done the simple math by hand, skipping the use of a calculator to add these small sums. I was very surprised when the teller told me I had made an error and she would send out a new deposit slip for me to sign. I was even more surprised to see the mistake made no sense – it wasn’t like I forgot to add a check, or didn’t carryover a number to the next column. It was as if I just made up a number and put it into the total.

I signed the new deposit slip, which was in my favor, and sent it back in the tube. Very soon I heard her voice again…. “Uh, Laura, would you mind signing it on the line for your signature?” She sent it back again and I could see I had randomly chosen another spot on the deposit slip to endorse the deposit. While I half-heartedly laughed about it, my husband muttered out loud about my mind going.

It’s easy to make errors, even ones that don’t count as simple mistakes, when we are pushing hard to get a lot of things done. The lesson I am trying to learn is I must slow down…. I should have watched the leftovers reheating in the microwave no matter how long it might take, instead of leaving the room to do something else. The laundry has waited a few days in the basket and it could wait a bit longer before moving to the dryer. At least I would have seen the light show inside my microwave as the metal arced.

I would do better, too, if I skip the drive through window at the bank and go inside the bank for my transactions. At least that way my husband won’t be a witness to my repeated errors and have more reasons to question my mental acuity.

All of this does bring me to a point about our attention and the ability to multi-task, which might have led to my recent mental lapses and problems. For a long time I have bought into the idea that I could multi-task – we all believe we can pay attention to someone speaking and watch the tv or answer a message on our phone at the same time. We’re positive we can follow along reading a book or magazine and still pay attention to the children playing in the other room. It turns out that just isn’t the case.

Attention is a finite resource – we only have so much attention to give, and we can only give it to one thing at a time, no matter how much we would like to divide our brain and its ability to pay attention. Now we might switch among things that need our attention, but we are still only doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking does not exist. That’s a tough lesson to learn. I hope I pay attention and learn this lesson before I burn down the house or give away all our money.

It’s all too easy to blame MS for my errors lately, but they are more likely to come from attempting to do more than one thing at a time, rather than staying focused on a singular task. Multiple sclerosis takes enough blame in my life; I guess it should get a free pass on this one.

Wishing you well,


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