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I'm just sayin'...

Those who know me know I am into the pragmatic, practical side of things as much as possible, it just works easier with my (ex) engineer brain. One facet of that view is I am trying to find ways having dementia can actually enhance your day to day...yes I said enhance. This is actually the topic of a whole 'nother series but its one of those cases of, to tell ya this story, I gotta tell ya that one...

One of the more common symptoms of dementia is memory loss. Normally it is treated as a sad or depressing symptom, because they focus on what you can't afford to lose going missing. However, being the shot-glass is half-full of something good kinda guy, I discovered that I have a kind of superpower that normally-cognitive folks simply don't have and cannot achieve without copious amounts of mind-altering substances, lots of farm sex or both. Just kidding about the substances. Anyhoo, ask yourself this pair of question (answer honestly):

1. What is your favorite movie, TV show or music? Being your fave, I betcha heard/watched it alot, yes?

2. What would you give to be able to see (for example) Star Wars or The Matrix again, only it would seem like it was the very first time for you? I am serious and am not exaggerating.

My wife and I love movies, TV and other media and have been collecting most of our married lives. Further, we have backups of most of it on 12 terabytes of network attached storage, any title for any show, movie or song available from any device in any room of the house. Hey, I don't get out much. So the thing is though, for most of that time I had sort of "over-watched" the best stuff, like I could predict the next line of dialog at any point of The Matrix or My Neighbor Totoro or <fill in the blank>.

When the memory loss became more pervasive, it was at first so terrible, but then one day I was looking through a section of our library for something to watch, and discovered first that I didn't know what most of it was (and I hand--recorded all of it), next that for stuff I did recall, it was definitely nowhere near 100%, maybe 50% max. The finally OMG was when I realized there was more than a couple in that I don't remember at all category that had at one time been personal favorites. I knew conceptually I had seen it, maybe alot but could not name one actor in it, sometimes not even get the genre right (say westerns vs animated) and absolutely could not tell what would happen one scene to the next. Even though not that long ago I knew this film (and Beth still did) like the back of our hand. I watched a few just to confirm and yep, the memory loss provided a clean slate for me to experience stuff like Robocop, Matrix 2, Phantom Menace, John Wicke, etc, feeling very much like the very first time.

As it turns out this effect brings a similar yet different bonus on video games. Games I had solved, played start to finish more than once were forgotten and I needed to relearn every "trick" for playing memory to lean on. For larger, more complex games, this made every game I played very economical because I could either replay them immediately upon completion of the final level or just wait a week or so...and it would feel like a new game to me again. 

I am a very cheap date of late..........

I bring up the game thing because other "bonuses" came up today playing Resistance for PS/3, owned this one since I started working for Sony in 2007, played it completely through with Beth and alone many times....yet playing it tonight, I acquired a completely new weapon I have no recollection of ever seeing in the game before. I know it has not been updated remotely or anything and yet I now have a weapon I had no idea what it was or where it came from, let alone what it was for. This, from a game I had completed many times. The logical part of my mind says no the game has not been changed therefore YES I have seen and gotten the weapon before. In this game, old that it is, there just isn't that many places to hide stuff, so its not like I just kept missing it the previous 3 dozen times I played Resistance on my PS3....

So the only conclusion is, my defect is allowing me to (re) experience things for the very first time, and I get that first-time thrill of seeing Luke battling with Darth Vader, or Ripley eluding the Alien get the idea. This is a very very real phenomenon. As long as I have it, I may as well enjoy the ride....


  1. Just curious, are you experiencing the same thing with music? I can hardly imagine what it would be like to hear, say, Todd Rundgren's "A Wizard, A True Star" or Roxy Music's "Country Life" again and have it seem like the first time.

    1. Greetings; I have a kind of qualified "yes and no" for your question on music. Actually your question brought out some interesting questions in my own mind about music...maybe this is true for visual input as well but it doesn't feel like it. With movies and such, I think most folks view and appreciate them much the same way, to the same level of detail..but with music, it seems like where one person might hear a catchy beat for instance, the next person might derive great inspiration from the lyrics and the next one, probably the musical student, picks up on small flourishes and details brought in by other band-members, engineers, etc. Thus I can only answer your question from my own perspective.

      No I have not experienced the "first time" feel with music as I do frequently with video and games. That said, what I do find is when listening to something I KNOW I have listened to a 1000 times if I have once, I seem to keep finding "new" parts to the music. For example, I am a blues fan from way back (which also means all my musical heroes are from WAAAY the F--- back too) and the other day I was listening to BB Kings 3:00 O'Clock Blues or TBone Walkers "Evenin'" and the deity as my witness, I swear I was hearing some new flourishes and licks (I used to play blues guitar) that I could swear were never in the "original" versions. Mind you, many of these songs have been played, replayed, covered and remade alot since some came out in the early 1900s. So possibly if some of the games or movies I talk about here had been around since then, the first time effect may not happen so completely for them either.. However for all that, I cannot deny feeling like I am hearing new and original to songs that I have been listening to for a good chunk of my adult life.

      And not to get too hung up on technicalities or really old music, I was listening to Pink Floyds The Wall again the other day . It was meant merely as back-ground music while I was doing something but there were so many little parts to the music that felt new to me that everything else was set aside and I spent a pretty pleasurable couple of hours just listening. It was pretty tranquil.

      Note: this is why dementia patients can watch reruns of TV shows they (and the rest of the world) have seen hundreds of times, because there is just enough new in it (due to dodgy memories) to be interesting BUT the rest is so familiar that it presents an easier challenge for throw some numbers at it, for you, my wife and millions of other folks, the TV series Lost for example is pretty much 100% "known"; you know how its going to turn out, general character interactions and conflicts, its all familiar to you by now. For me/us, its like 40-60% new material. The best news is, next week, it will STILL be 40-60% new material, even if viewed this week. Re-runs are like a cognitive version of training wheels for me. The problem with this of course is that by the fifteenth rerun of NCIS or Law and Order or X-Files, the normally-abled caregiver is about to take hostages...

    2. Hey just had to throw this out there too WRT the original replier: I used to speak German and have been a fan of Rammstein from the git-go...I am listening to them now but with an important difference: I no longer remember much German so with the lyrics removed, the songs are now sounding VERY different to my ears....English is my first language FWIW.


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