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Understanding Conversations

I’ve come to a realization of late concerning conversations that I’m involved in. I’ve known for some time that I’m becoming increasingly unable to follow and understand any but the simplest of conversations but I had not analyzed the path those conversations most often take. It was not until I was in the middle of my latest round of neuropsych testing that the actual process of the conversation hit me. It goes something like this.

The person I’m speaking with  starts their sentence and I’ll do my very best to follow each and every word. But as soon I realize that I am watching each word be pushed off the edge of a cliff as each new word is spoken. It is much like the old  Price is Right game where there are a bunch of numbers in a line and a player has to push the numbers until the correct price shows up and the excess  numbers fall off the edge as they are pushed.  In my mind,  I see the words already spoken falling off the edge of the cliff as the excess numbers do when they are pushed by the contestant. As they fall off they are lost to me forever, both in context and meaning. By the time the new words are spoken I have no way of  connecting them to those that are in the abyss.

To those who are speaking to me and are unaware of my limitations or are not around me much, it seems as though I’m just not paying attention or that I am apathetic to what they are saying. This is far from the truth.  I am struggling with all that is in me to keep up with the conversation. It is just not something I’m capable of anymore.

In the same vein, it is becoming very difficult for me to carry on a an intelligent conversation for much the same reason. When I’m communicating with my family as to what is going on with me or
my condition, it is much easier for me to do so in writing. I am able to take my time,  formulate my thoughts, and put them in somewhat of a coherent manner. I have never been what you might call a true conversationalist but I am almost becoming reclusive at this point.

Often, I will be found sitting in my recliner, tv going, iPad in my hand, and something else in my lap. I’m often asked why in the hell ive got all of this going on at the same time. How can I keep up with it all. The simple answer is, I can’t. The reason it’s all there is much the same as my conversations. When I’m watching tv I soon lose all track of the plot, of who did what to who, or for that matter, who each person is supposed to represent. Rather than sit in frustration and stare at the screen in confusion, I move on to my iPad until the confusion sets in in that medium as
well. Then I move on to whatever is in my lap then back to the tv , then the iPad, then get the idea. It’s a gambit to fight off the inevitable frustration, agrivation and boredom. At no time am I deeply involved in any one thing and can easily divert my attention when my understanding wanes.

If your LO looks at you blankly or gives you a lot of “OK’s” as you are describing something, remember, perhaps they are in the same boat. Cut them a bit of slack. Cut yourself a bit of slack.



  1. Randy, for having never met, it is almost bizarre how close the roads we travel are. I am authoring something very similar right now, just from another angle. I do know after the events of the past month, I am indeed on a different, more dangerous path than I was even three months ago. I have this vague notion of something like "a sphere of comprehension. Like there is a metaphorical sphere around you that encompasses things you really understand. Stuff closer to you might be the remote control or the miveowave oven in your kitchen. The stuff far away is represented by things like politics, science, technology and so on. As my dementia has progressed; my sphere of comprehension has been shrinking steadily until today when its barely larger than the area around this chair. In effect, that is about how large my world is now too.


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