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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Can You Remember

By Brooke Davidoff

August 8, 2012

As some of you know, for a lot of women on this website, pregnancy came with an HIV diagnosis and medication. When people ask how you're dealing with everything, you're sick and not sure if it's because you're pregnant or on new fancy HIV medication. Maybe by the time the baby comes, you can pronounce the pills you are on.

You have NO idea how you feel and everything is wrapped into ONE package. You are no longer a happy expecting mother. You didn't get the chance to be one for long. That was stolen from you, along with so much else you can't even fathom yet. Now you think about your own death, the stupid things you did when you were young. Wondering if you could have avoided that ex, or that ONE night. And NOW you realize the rest of your life could have been so so different.

I used to have the best memory. I could tell you what you were wearing the day we met. I could tell you who was in almost every class with me in school, and even where they sat.

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Since pregnancy, HIV or my father's untimely tragic death, my short-term memory is patchy now at best. I have Post-It notes all over my desk with common normal things I SHOULD know. Things I used to be able to memorize. Like my own address for example. I've lived in the same condo since November, and for real, I have no idea what my address is. When ordering food for delivery I have to find a pile of mail and read it.

My ATM pin codes, one for a card I have had for over 4 years -- that code has never changed -- I have written on notes in my wallet, so when I'm at a store I can check it out if I have a "brain dead" moment. For the gas station I have my zip code on another paper, so when that machine needs it I can get my gas. My new-ish cell phone number (I've only had that since February) is also on a post-it note on my desk at work as well as in my wallet.

I am driving my husband crazy. I don't remember conversations we had, or decisions he says we made together. Then we fight about them since I seriously have NO recollection of even talking about them. I wasn't there. He must have had this talk in his mind and forgot to let me in on how it went.

I have talked to a few other HIV-positive women who have had children, and they also have memory issues. Is it just us taking on too much? Working full time, coming home trying to be mommy, wifey and housekeeper and simply NOT having enough energy to do it all?

Does stress lead to a lack of concentration? Or has the Internet and technology like instant messages, text messages, iPhones and social media helped make us all a little ADHD?

Can I blame one or all of the above for my concentration issues, or my lack of them? I sit at a desk for eight-plus hours a day, five days a week, and then another four-plus hours every other Saturday. I have dual monitors since we use so many programs, pages and websites. I spend all day looking at six-plus windows in two different Web browsers.

I check my work email, my Gmail, CNN, Facebook, The Body, MLB.com, my Fantasy Baseball Team. By the end of the day it's all a blur and the 25 to 50-plus customers I talked to go along out the window with it.

There are times where I'm sitting in a meeting, or at work listening to someone talk knowing what they are saying is very important. I'm telling myself in my mind "pay attention." I'm looking at the them "acting" like I'm following, yet knowing inside my mind something totally different is going on. Then I'm internally fighting with myself to pay attention and I'm wondering if I have adult ADHD.

The only thing I pay attention to is Myles. I can't even watch a whole TV show anymore.

I have a memory evaluation with a doctor on August 28 and will have an update for you guys after that, if I remember. I NEED to know if this is stress related, HIV related, PTSD, lack of sleep or something else altogether. Hopefully I take GOOD notes so I'll know what they said.

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See Also
More Personal Accounts of Women With HIV/AIDS

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Brooke Davidoff (Seattle, WA) Tue., Sep. 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm EDT
Testing took 2 hours and $30 BUT and It's NOT my brain. The Dr said it's either fatigue from my crazy ass schedule or PTSD, but my brain is fine! So that's a relief. New blog on it's way.
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Comment by: Lucy (Dallas, TX) Sat., Aug. 25, 2012 at 10:41 am EDT
Hi Brooke,
I think it would be really helpful to know how your test goes. I have the same problem. I have those black out conversations with my hubby and although he is great he gets really frustrated. Its been going on for 5 and a half years now. I got all the same: it's mommy brain, it's ptsd now that your hormones have changed you are now starting to deal with your father's death, it's because your husband was gone in Iraq when you had Devin, you're taking on too much and need to do something for yourself...but now I'm on anti depressants, anti anxiety pill, etc and I am still having the same problems and Devin starts Kindergarten Monday. When is enough enough?
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Comment by: Jeannie Wraight (Bronx, New York) Sun., Aug. 12, 2012 at 9:23 am EDT
I'm going through exactly the same thing, although I haven't had a baby. You described it to the letter. Although I'm sorry you are dealing with this as well, I'm glad that you wrote about it as it makes me feel less as if I'm losing my mind. I have a neurology appointment as well, lets keep each other updated on the results. Love always.
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Comment by: Daisy (united kingdom) Thu., Aug. 9, 2012 at 9:53 am EDT
hey brooke, first of all i just want to say i have an awful memory i'm 24 and seriously in one ear out the other there is far too much going on in this world to be able to get full focus on everything.
i started reading your blog 5 weeks ago, i am a student nurse and i am on placement at the moment working for a charity who offers support to positive members of the community and there familys. i thoroughly embraced your blog i love it. i didnt know a great deal about HIV apart from the basics so i found it really enlightening to read about your experience. you are an astonishing woman your family must be so proud of you. i have shared your blog with my family and friends because i think even though i do not have HIV it is so amazing what you have had to go through and have still come out the other end. i hope i dont sound patronizing because i am not fantastic with words i just wanted to say basically that i have really appriciated your blog so thank you...all the best to you and your family. xxx
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Comment by: Ashley (San Diego) Wed., Aug. 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm EDT
You are doing an amazing job! Going to the doctor is smart but whatever is going on just know that you are an amazing worker, mommy, and wife. You are only human. Love you!
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Voice of ONE


Brooke Davidoff

Brooke Davidoff

Brooke was diagnosed HIV positive in January 2010 -- two months married and 11 weeks pregnant with her first baby -- and has already begun to educate others about HIV. She lives in Seattle, and her poetry has been featured on TheBody.com. Her son was born on July 15, 2010.


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