Living in An Upside Down World

Posted on February 17, 2012

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(The following is this week’s entry in my Friday series, “Old Posts to Dredge out on Slow Weekends Because When I Posted Them Originally People Cared More About the Economy and World Peace Than My Blog.” Although nothing has changed, it’s the start of a slow weekend, blogging-wise).

Thanks to the good folks who spend their time discovering obscure illnesses that nobody should ever know about, I now know I have DEVELOPMENTAL TOPOGRAPHICAL DISORIENTATION or, it’s more roll-off-the-tongue name, TOPOGRAPHAGNOSIA. This dysfunction is manifested by a belief that when one is asleep, crews of people are out in Washington, DC, changing the location of all the traffic circles and the directions and names of most of the streets.

Topographagnosia is a congenital disorder of the hippocampus.  The hippocampus is part the brain.  It affects memory, organization, and one’s orientation in space.  I have had this dysfunction since birth. It’s a miracle I made it down the birth canal. To my knowledge, that was the last time I went in the correct direction to get anywhere.

Most people afflicted don’t concern themselves with their hippocampus anyway, because it’s tough enough to figure out where things are that we can see. We try not to clutter our brains up trying to understand where things are that we can’t see. But, the affliction can severely affect an individual’s daily life. This most often occurs when some unnamed individual, like me for example, is attempting to find the ladies room in a restaurant, and wanders around in circles and invariably either ends up in the kitchen or in a broom closet. In fact, I may have inadvertently run into my hippocampus once, when trying to find the ladies room, but I can’t be sure.

Other enjoyable aspects of this disorder occur on vacations, when that same unnamed individual is totally enjoying the breathtaking scenery, until another unnamed person, usually consisting of a Now Husband, will say something like, “Wow, that is the most phenomenal-looking bird I have ever seen! Can you believe those colors?” or “Wasn’t that amazing how fast those wild horses ran by? I didn’t realize there were any around here!” or “Those mountains look almost like someone dipped their tips in glitter!” And the person afflicted with Topograpagnosia has, instead, been having a swell time simply staring at rocks and trash alongside the road.

DTD also impairs a person’s ability to remember names. I, personally, have tried everything I can think of to remember names. I concentrate really hard. I repeat the person’s name back to them. I ask them to spell their name. I try associating their name with something else. Nothing works, and the association thing is especially worthless. I’ll remember only the mnemonic device and end up calling people things like “Zippy” or “Phlegm.”

Since I’ve already lived with Topographagnosia for quite some time now, and since I know it will never go away, the only thing that’s left is the hope that someday, I will be introduced to someone whose actual name is either Zippy or Phlegm, and then I’ll probably have a pretty good shot at remembering it.

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