I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2015, and I still can’t spell it right on the first try.
But this post isn’t about that. It’s about corticosteroids, one of which I was initially prescribed to treat the symptoms of RA because there is no cure, so every drug out there exists so people with this disease (and other auto-immune diseases) aren’t living in agony all their lives. And it’s also about going to conventions and meeting people and living life without what I used to all prednisone brain or Swiss-cheese brain, no disrespect to cheese intended.
Corticosteroids are wonder drugs in many ways. They treated my inflammation better than anything else, they’ve helped dying patients see a glimmer of their old lives before they pass, and they even helped two of my cats rally long enough for me to have some extra time with them. But as every doctor has ever told me, they are not a permanent solution to those with a long life ahead of them.
Among a few other problems, mine severely affected my short-term memory. If I didn’t regularly interact with someone, I forgot their name or face or both. I would often lose the thread of conversations in the middle. At conferences, I had to take notes about everything I had to say or do and often wrote down threads of conversations so I could try to recall them later. I watched faces fall as I couldn’t place them and had to dig through the fog in my brain. I think I covered it well. I HOPE I covered it well. I hope I wasn’t too short-tempered when people had to remind me of not only who they were but where I knew them from. Oftentimes, get-togethers would leave me with a pea-soup of memories, where everything and everyone jumbled together, and I often preferred to run back to my hotel room or sit by myself and try to put everything that was happening around me in order. I didn’t ask people about themselves much (something I really like to do) because I just couldn’t keep so many stories straight in my head.
I feel like I missed many of you in more ways than one.
Then, just before the pandemic hit, my doc and I tried a drug that works better than any other, and I felt brave enough to give the steroids a miss. I was excited to go to events again now that I had my brain back, but of course, the whole world was canceled. I put the dim recollections of prednisone brain behind me. Now, after this year’s GCLS conference, I’m struck with how crisp the whole event is in my mind. And not just because of the award, though that’s a big part. 🙂
Yes, I was still tired at the end of every day, and yes, sometimes, I went to bed at 9 p.m., and there were bouts of pain, but I can recall everything! I met knew people. I re-met people I’d met before, and I’m sorry if you’re reading this and sad that I might have ever forgotten you. I didn’t, not completely. You were in there. I just couldn’t get to you, but now I can, and I plan to follow you until you’re sick of me.
There’s no real lesson in here. I think we already know that life is hard for everyone in different ways and to give one another a break, to try not to assume we know what every person we meet is going through. And there are far better stories that guide us toward relishing every good turn in life. It’s just something that popped into my head, something that stayed, waiting until I actually had a moment to write it down. It’s something that I’m grateful for, as I am for all my friends and family and readers. I’m so happy that now, when you pop into my life, you’ll stay.
At least until you’re sick of me. 😉