Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Not So Wordy Girl

My husband used to call me "wordy girl" for a variety reasons ranging from my occupation (journalist) to the fact that I love debating the proper use and meaning of words. And, well, I probably "corrected" him more than once. :-)

I love words, and have as long as I can remember.

So it's really frustrating to me that I seem to be having increasing numbers of times that I can't find the right word. I know that happens to everyone occasionally, but these days, it's more than an occasional thing. 

The good thing is I have a fairly large vocabulary. So even when I can't find the word I want -- which drives me absolutely crazy -- I can find something close, something that works well enough even if it's not exactly the right connotation. 

And most of the time, people can't even tell unless they know me very well or I mention it. 

An example is in a post earlier this month where I referred to not wanting to "puncture his balloon." I wasn't even entirely aware of that when I did it, but of course I meant "burst his bubble." 

It's just these little things that drive me nuts. I was reading a book over the weekend in which a character was angsting that she hadn't heard from the guy she liked in seven weeks -- "exactly 50 days." Then I tried, and failed, to remember what seven times seven was (I knew 50 days didn't sound right for precisely seven weeks). And I couldn't remember my multiplication tables. 

A couple months ago, I got lost driving from home to my daughter's preschool, where I was meeting my husband for a chat with the principal. I was late, which was pretty embarrassing. But having gotten lost going somewhere I'd been going semi-regularly for over a year was upsetting.  I'm not sure, but I think that's the last time I drove myself there.

Chalk it up to brain fog or intense fatigue or whatever. But it's bad enough when my body doesn't work the way I want it to, does my brain really have to stop working too?


Shiri said...

Oh, Aviva, I understand. I just saw this column in the Times the other day, which made me feel a bit better, or at least in good company: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/cancer/

And I'll tell you the same story I put in the comments there: I spent years on large doses of anti-convulsants for pain, which gave me brain fog and aphasia. One day, when I was speaking to a dean at my college, he remarked that I was “looking so much better”. I had just stopped using two crutches for a major injury (the one that necessitated the medications) and was down to one crutch. I was pretty excited about it, too, so I said, “I know! I’m just using one crotch now!” He looked back, horrified.

The memory of that event still makes me cringe inside. But let me tell you, one of my colleagues who doesn't know about my condition, complimented me on my fluency recently. Apparently, we notice more than the outside world. But I know, I grieve the loss, too.

Laurie said...

Ugh, I can totally relate. My favorite is when this happens in front of a class of students. Awesome. It is much more common in my late classes than my early ones, so while I don't have an official reason, I chalk it up to fatigue. It was especially bad when my adrenals failed, and is more pronounced when I have an infection and don't move enough air. My face pales, circles under my eyes form, and I can't find the right words...I start a sentence knowing where I'm going and get lost by the end. I hate it!

At least we can make up for it with good vocab words when we're "on." :)

p1nkg0dess said...

Brain fog is the absolute worst symptom for me. Sleeping all the time sucks, if I have pain it sucks, but there's no semblance of functionality those times. It's when I'm on top of everything else, and yet can't remember what anything is called (I've forgotten the words for my profession in the middle of a sentence at a dinner party!) it is intensely frustrating. And when I just blank out on what I am doing, it's scary. It's also, according to my doctors, the most difficult symptom to treat in any way. :-(

Elizabeth McClung said...

Brain fog, fatigue, mixed signals, inability to do math, yup, nothing like having the years of study in order to sound like you can't say the right thing. Linda and Cheryl correct me about once every 10 minutes when I say, "We should all coagulate on this." - Linda murmurs, "co (just while writing this I forgot the original word, and can only think of Cogitate, no that's not it, cumulate? Coordinate - well that will do) 'reach consenses' - how about that? This goes on too often. WAY too often and it never feels good to be the kid in the class who is giving odd answers, clearly wrong, like in the next topic wrong (And that is what it feels like to me, that I am back at school). Sometimes I feel like shouting, "Okay, got a disease, can't you TELL! Give me some slack!" - maybe I should make and wear a T-shirt. I'll send you one?