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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

bvFTD Symptom: Half-Track Mind

I would  like to address a symptom of bvFTD that is mentioned often (at least anecdotally), but rarely explained in terms that relate to a real life situation. Actually, I see it mentioned in personal accounts of people who have been diagnosed with bvFTD, but I really do not see it mentioned or explained in the medical literature. I am talking about my inability to multi-task with bvFTD. I must now take a very single-minded, one-track approach to life. Actually more like a half-track approach. This is life with bvFTD for me.

I used to be able to do seventy'leven things at once, and do them all very well. At least I thought I could, and it seemed to be the case. Now I can only do one thing at a time fairly well sometimes on a good day.

The reason I am addressing this is because it was brought to my attention last evening while watching television, and I want to document the severity of it right now though I really can't see how it could get any worse. Wait! Forget I said that! It can always be worse. It could be raining...

The premier of the TV program "Last Resort" was on, and I was watching it with a friend (who fell asleep on my couch halfway through it!). Near the very end, the lead character, the Captain of the sub whatever his name is, gives a lengthy monologue taped speech broadcast to the world. As he is talking for several minutes while the background images are telling a different story. The images shown while he is talking catch the viewer up on what has happened, and tie up some loose ends. Well, this may be a great creative way to tell a story, but it does not work for me with bvFTD! I really didn't even know about it until I watched it again. One of the advantages of being able to pause and replay live TV.

I watched the whole speech, and listened intently. After all it was his important speech to the world. I thought, subjectively, that I had a full comprehension of what had gone on, and was not aware of how I could possibly have missed anything. That was until my friend woke up and asked, "Why was his wife in a room being shown pictures?"

I said, "What?" I kinda thought she had been dreaming, or was thinking of something she had seen earlier in the show before she fell asleep. She was insistent about what she had seen, and I had no idea what she was talking about. It was like we were watching 2 different shows.

To figure out what was going on, I used the DVR to re-watch the Captain's speech to see what she was talking about. I realized that not a single one of the images had registered the first time I watched it when I was listening to the words of his speech. When I watched the images, I didn't hear the speech! Wow! My mind is really incapable of doing 2 things at once even when I am aware of it, and trying to concentrate on both.

I usually do not notice this symptom in my day-to-day activities. Occasionally a friend will notice that I need to be guided back on-track if I am in the middle of doing something, and get interrupted or distracted. Because of my inability to multi-task I just switch tasks, and continue down a different track until I am reminded of what I was originally doing. I think the reason I don't notice is because I have adapted to it. I structure my time so that I can work on one thing at a time as much as possible, and avoid interruptions.

I also have ADHD-like symptoms, so I now have an unnatural tendency to skip around from one thing and thought to another, but still only one thing at a time. These 2 symptoms together make both of them worse because when I switch tasks or thoughts I tend to stay switched, and not return to what I was doing or thinking for a long time if ever.

I just thought this would be a good time to document this symptom since I noticed such a good example of how it works.

Comments are welcome.



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