Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mick McKellar Update — Day +1955

Mental Inventory
One of the perfunctory perquisites of my limited capacity to actually accomplish tasks in the physical sense, is the lavish, but lukewarm luxury to perform herculean tasks in the dusty old attic of my mind. In other words, it is time for another dust up and inventory.

How does one inventory such an old attic? I read my journal entries for the last six months or so and try to remember what was going on when I wrote the words and penned the poems. I try to understand the purpose and the importance of images I included in the journal. This also gives me a chance to edit out some of my more egregious errors (grammar, not memory). The attic is located upstairs in my Grand Library, wherein I hope to find the supporting documentation for the wild variety of attic items collecting their first layers of dementia dust.

I know I've mentioned my attic before, full of storage boxes, piles of documents, shadows, smoke, and lots of mirrors. This year, I've noticed that the dust accumulates a little faster and clings a little longer than in the past. I have to work much harder to read those documents, to open those receptacles, and to polish those mirrors. There are more shadows and more smoke than I remember, making it harder to find things. I also noted problems with creaking and leaking.

Someone (me?) dragged a well-worn recliner over by a gable window — a great place to rest and maybe take a nap while sorting through memories and images.

Who Wrote That?

Reading my own words after sufficient time, feels like reading them for the first time — like the author is someone else that I may or may not want to get to know. The me of now meets the me that used to be — the experience can be unnerving.

For example, I am editing my journal entries for the first 100 days after my blood and marrow stem cell transplant. Marian and I were required by Mayo Clinic to remain near the hospital and facilities for at least 100 days after an allogeneic BMT. We were in Rochester for 4.5 months, during which time I wrote daily journal entries about my experience, among other topics, and shared them by email and Facebook with friends and relatives.

Playing Telephone

I often tell tales about my experience during this time of my life. Some would say that I repeat myself often and kindly refrain from complaining about it. When I compare the content of my verbal recollections with the details in my journal, I find that like Snow White, I drifted.

Mostly I find that the order of events has blurred a bit and some of the details have either been edited out or been embellished (a very minute amount!) to make the story more entertaining. It's like the old game of Telephone we played as kids (and adults), To play someone whispers a short story or comment to the first person sitting in a very large circle. Each person then whispers the story to the person on their left as accurately as possible, until we come "full circle," at which time the last person relates the story. It is compared to the original and nearly always is vastly different.

It is human nature to relate tales imperfectly over time. This is one reason important facts were installed in rhymes and stories before the advent of easy access to physical data storage.

I forgive myself for drifting, but now it is time for me to shovel the dementia dust from the records and polish them up to look new.

New Tools
I have begun using a new tool in my editor's kit. Text to speech readers have come a long way from the first attempts and many are available as browser plugins or apps. Some are free or ask for a small donation. I'm using several plug ins because I use several browsers. I've become comfortable with one that reads text in my Firefox browser. It's voice has a British accent, but I kind of like that. It reads my text as I follow along and this helps me focus and identify common errors and clumsy sounding sentences. It's a useful tool.

It also saves the text session as an .mp3 file which I can download and save.* The reading is not perfect, but good enough to share, and it makes my poor scratchings more accessible to those who are reading impaired.

Of note as well: I just passed day +1950 — the year I was born. No deep meaning here, just an interesting side note. For those who follow along, my medical situation has improved slightly. The warmer weather and reduction in pollen has made breathing easier. I will be going back to Rochester in August, mostly for another CT scan so they can take a look at the shadow in my left lung and decide if further investigation is needed. Interesting times, indeed!

Thanks for your prayers and good thoughts! God bless and good afternoon!


*You can try to download and listen to an audio file of this Update. (No guarantees, never tried this before!)