Archive for September, 2010

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Do you want a support forum if you “cannot visualise”?

2010 September 10

(please read the FAQ page about what I mean: https://porillion.wordpress.com/visualisation-faqs/)

(This post is “sticky”, meaning it always appears at the top. Please scroll down for the latest post.)

I have not yet found an online forum for support for this problem, which I now feel given my complete lack of medical or other support I now need and so others may to. If you would like me to look into forming one then please comment on this post (you will have to give your e-mail address, but only I can see that). If enough people ask for it, then I will look into setting one up.

(Please state clearly that you are interested!)

Please note that although I ask you to leave your e-mail address when making your comment, it is not displayed and no-one but me can see it.

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Visualization, Forming Mental Images and Episodic Memory: Updates to Come.

2010 September 10

If you are unable to visualize or form mental images (including recall of past events), I hope you will be interested in the upcoming changes to this site:

  • I am considering setting up an online support forum. If you are interested, please read the following post and leave a comment there (not here, please about this): https://porillion.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/do-you-want-a-support-forum-if-you-cannot-visualise/
  • In the two years since I first wrote about my own experience with a loss of the ability to visualize and an inability to recall visual past events, many people have commented and I have now found quite a lot of new research into episodic memory, visualization, projection into the future, and so on. I am now in the process of putting that together to update this information. You will be able to start, as now, from the Visualization FAQs page, from which I will link to a new series of posts. The evidence is consistent with the set of problems that people have reported, and it may now be possible to begin suggesting medical and non-medical causes; though there does not yet appear to be any one such. It may also help anyone wishing to raise the problems with their family doctor or a specialist, as I will then be able to give links to that research.
  • I will create a dedicated post from which you can comment, if you wish, with your own experiences. This seems a better approach than the old one where people commented all over the place. More on that later.

Take care.

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The Memory Clinic: Outcome

2010 September 8

My partner and I went to the memory clinic yesterday. (If you’re unfamiliar with why, you can read this here: https://porillion.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/i-am-going-to-a-memory-clinic-next-week/)

Unfortunately, the results were pretty much what I had expected. Readers about visualisation and episodic memory problems may not know about the experience of others like myself who also have visual snow. Essentially, many co-sufferers have reported ignorance from medical practitioners – even being told that they are “imagining it”. I was fortunate to have found medical evidence to back up my concerns when I saw my GP and my pain consultant. This is why I have a diagnosis of “persistent aura” with my “complicated migraine”. But I had no such evidence to back up my concerns when I visited the clinic yesterday regarding my visualisation deficit and episodic memory recall problems; and the learning problems I have that appear to relate.

Before attending the clinic, my partner and I had been asked to complete a questionnaire and hand it to reception when we arrived, which we did. I then had a ten minute structured question and answer session, asking for things like: As many animals beginning with “p” that I could think of (timed); to write a sentence, any sentence; to identify pictures of items by name and by association with ideas like “nautical” (e.g., for an anchor) or “royal” (e.g., for a crown). The only one I struggled with was a made up name and address. This I was read, and had to repeat back, three times at the beginning, and then recall specific pieces of information from at the end. None of these tests were for visual recall either short-term or long-term.

I was then seen by a registrar, whose bedside manner was similar to House. From the offset, he was dismissive and, it seemed to my partner and I, negative towards our being there. He took a general medical history (which I recall from factual narrative, and note is not a test of detail or of visual recall), and then a general chat which was obviously testing factual recall of everday things like: What do you like to do to relax, or what films do you like? My partner is a staff nurse of fourteen years’ experience, and she said that I make extensive use of a notebook and a computer-organized list to cope with daily living. She also told him that she regularly shows me how to do new things (such as various things to do with cooking), and that I later not only forget what she has shown me, but that she has shown me. I said that I used to support Microsoft Office (before becoming too ill to work with migraine), but that I have had to abandon trying to learn the new version, because its interface is so different. And I said that we recently passed a ruined tower that interersted me, but that I genuinely thought (and still believe) I have not passed before – even though my partner tells me that we had and that I commented on it enthusiastically previously. Despite all of this, his conclusion was that for the most part I was simply choosing to ignore things that didn’t interest me, because I was “eccentric”, and that at my age (just past 40) I wouldn’t change. We were so gobsmacked that we left without pressing him further.

My impression was that he thought I was computer- and filmed-obsessed, that I was uninterested in anything else (such as cooking), that because of this I would never focus on these tasks and never learn them; and most of all, that I was rigid in using my computer to guide my chores and so on because I liked it that way, and not because that was what I had to do to remember to do things (like bathe if I cannot do so on the day I’d normally wash; otherwise forgetting that I hadn’t done so).

This, to my mind, echoes the treatment, as I said, that sufferers of visual snow often get. So my suggestion to anyone thinking of trying this route themselves is the same as to those with visual snow: Go prepared. For this specific situation, expect there to be no communication that your problems are with visualisation, visual recall and detailed episodic memory. You’ll need to prepare well in advance if, like me, you are affected badly with thinking on your feet and projecting yourself into the future. Don’t expect to be tested for visual related items at all: I’m not sure how you can stress that you should be.

On the plus side, he did at least suggest some medical or medically-related factors that affect memory: Such as any former incidents of depression, and in my case my persistent aura and migraine attacks and even the Epilim that I take as a preventative. But I cannot confidently take his conclusion that there was no medical problem on faith, given our overall negative impression.

I have however, done a quick bit of online research from the usual reliable sources, and note that there have been some updates since I wrote in 2008. So I plan to update the FAQs and series on visualisation as soon as possible, and in light of the many comments you have made since then.

The whole episode makes the joke of the statement that my learning difficulties are an invisible problem.

Take care.

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I am going to a “Memory Clinic” next week

2010 September 2

Readers of this site will know that along with “complicated migraine”, I am unable to visualize at all (I cannot “see” anything in my “mind’s eye”) and that this severely affects my episodic memory (memory of life events), especially where there is a visual component or such as learning in a visual environment. After the two years that the site has been up, it is apparent that there are others like me – though it may be that the percentage of the general population is quite small (or that it is larger, but people who have this issue are unaware that it is not normal). I myself used to have an excellent memory with excellent visual recall and visualization; others report they never had this.

You can read more about this in the FAQ page on visualization, which includes links to a series giving more information: https://porillion.wordpress.com/visualisation-faqs/

Next week, I am attending a memory clinic at a local hospital to look into my memory deficit. As far as I am aware, without carefully re-reading the comments (and given that I, um, have a bad memory!), I am the only person to have been medically examined for this. I will update you with any result (or lack thereof) when I have the outcome.