Today is officially the last working day before my birthday extravaganza next week. I may tinker with a few work projects over the weekend but only in an 'unofficial' capacity.
I tend to get a bit introspective around birthday time.
Another year older.
Another year closer to the nameless terrors of the grave. (I am reliably informed that you can actually get a 'humourous' birthday card with that sentiment inside.....'hilarious' or what?)
One of the things I'm least looking forward to on attaining my 55th birthday (and the list is l-o-n-g) is having to move up another age category when completing online questionnaires. It's one thing to select 50-54. I can cope with that. But as of next week I'll be up in the over 55 slot.
Not only that, apparently I should be concerned about my hippocampus. I watched a very interesting TV documentary last night about memory. The hippocampus is a tiny area deep in the brain, responsible for our memories. In our mid 50's (NOOOOO!!!) the hippocampus begins to atrophy, leading to the normal memory loss associated with ageing.
I've always rather prided myself on my memory, so the prospect of a gradual slide into loss of short term memory is a frightening thought. However, the old adage, "use it or lose it" is pertinent, and as I have to remember all of PP's day to day stuff as well as my own I get plenty of practice.
Of course having a reasonably good memory does not exempt me from the universal condition of arriving at the top of the stairs with NO IDEA why I'm there. I have to go back to my starting point and think VERY HARD about why I needed to go upstairs in the first place.
Small Dog has an excellent memory, although as she has a very small brain I suspect that her hippocampus is only the size of a pinhead. She knows where the dog biscuit tin is kept, even if we move it around from cupboard to cupboard. She knows where her harness and lead are kept. She knows our normal route through the maze of paths and tracks in the woods behind our house, which is more than I do. Whether this is due to her memory or merely a learned response is open to debate, but she does seem to remember things.
However, given the effects of MS on my brain, the state of my hippocampus is probably the least of my worries.
Prior to my diagnosis, when I was undergoing various neurological tests, I had an MRI scan. The young doctor who saw me afterwards expressed concern at the number of white lesions on my brain. I will never forget what she said....
"This is very unusual in someone of your age. You have the brain of a 70-year old"
Given that I was only 47 at the time, this was a tad alarming. Naturally, it was only afterwards that I could come up with suitable responses, such as
"Have you ever thought of a career in one of the caring professions?"
"Whoa Doctor.....way to go with the sensitive bedside manner?"
"D'you think it's a matter of luck or judgement that you've never been punched on the nose?"
Living with MS does tend to lead to introspection, and intimations of mortality are a regular occurrence. Therefore I've taken a unilateral decision to majorly celebrate any birthdays from now on which end in either a zero or a five. As time progresses *fingers crossed* I may even extend that to those which end in one to four and six to nine.
In the meantime, given that there's little I can do to influence the course of my MS, perhaps I should turn my attention to shoring up my face and body, which are inevitably suffering the cruel effects of gravity. Maybe I should start saving now for a self-gifted 60th birthday present, a full face and body lift.