MEMORY is the process in which information is encoded, stored and retrieved.
What is a memory? This is anything good or bad or indifferent that stays with you for a matter of a few seconds or a lifetime. We do not get the pick and choose which memories stay and which ones get discarded. Memories can be hard to remember all the details even if they are a few hours old, while other ones stay ingrained in our minds in vivid details despite being years old. Memories come and go with no warning at all and seem to hit at the most awkward time.
My memories of Heather and her cancer treatments are always with me and sometimes more than others. I never know what will trigger what memory about the months of hospital stays, chemo and testing. Like other PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- survivors I can never be sure what memory will trigger or what emotions could come the memory. I can be prepared but for the most part still I am caught off guard for these events.
Bill has been having some prolonged pain and other symptoms for over 15 months now and they seem to be getting worse. I felt it was important to figure out what is causing this pain and see if there is a treatment available. Me being the nagging wife that I am made him go to the doctor and get a testing schedule for xrays, MRI and CT Scan. No big deal to the average person who does not have haunting memories of past testing. But to someone with the history that I have a simple MRI can stir up such memories and emotions.
The hallways all look the same. They have tiled floors and are usually painted a darker color. Of course the facility is kept very cold so the risk of passing out is less. For me this means sitting with a jacket on to keep my teeth from chattering. The magazines are from years past and have all had the crossword puzzles worked and scribbled in repeatedly. Everyone in the waiting room does not look happy and there is no conversation at all. Possibly some small whisperings. I usually have my bag with my current crochet project in it to work on. This bag goes everywhere with me.
RETRIEVAL, recall or recollection is calling back the stored information in response to some cue for use in a process or activity
As I sat in the cold, sterile hallway waiting for Bill to finish his MRI, I was flooded with memories of waiting for Heather outside testing rooms at Banner Baywood Hospital. There is no noise and the staff walks by in their hurried manner to get their jobs done. I sat and wondered as patients walked by me what results they were waiting for. Was it cancer? That a bone healed correctly? There are so many lives that will be changed forever with the results of this one test. I was transported back to the first CT scan Heather had and being really naïve that this was nothing. How stupid I was back then. So there I sat in the cold hallway wondering if my, or our lives would be changed forever.
I am not looking or hoping for the worst case scenario, but when you have had a life changing event like cancer or a severe illness enter into your world, that is usually the first thoughts you go to. The worst case scenario. Because once I was sure that cancer happened to everyone else but not me, not my kids I never gave it a second thought. Now with anything that doesn’t seem right my thoughts go to what is this, is this cancer or something bad?
So for the rest of the world, Bill just simply went for a routine MRI and CT scan. But to me this is not routine or ordinary testing. Nothing is ordinary to me and as always the memories come flooding back to my mind and I am transported back to five years ago. Maybe that is my total recall?