A new book tells the story of what it's like to lose your short-term memory at the age of 33
"I could no longer retrieve memories, even ones from long ago," Lee writes in her book. "I could not transform short-term memories into long-term memories."In an excerpt from the book that's currently on Longreads, Lee describes how dramatically this affected every aspect of her life. Even cooking - making a simple dish of pasta with tomatoes - became an impossible task:"I put the water on to boil. I heat up the oil in the sauté pan. I chop the onions and then wonder for what it was that I chopped the onions. What might it be? I wash my hands, because I might as well-my hands are covered in onion juice, and my eyes are tearing. I return to the stove, where the oil is now scorching hot. I wonder what on earth it was I was cooking, why the sauté pan was left this way. I turn off the heat under the oil. I sigh and go upstairs. I forget everything I just did like a trail of dust in wind. Two hours later, after a nap, I return to the kitchen to a pile of chopped onions on the chopping block. The pan is cool but scorched. And I again wonder why. But mostly, my eyes turn to an empty stockpot on the stove, the burner turned on high. There is nothing in the stockpot, not even water. This happened over and over again in the months following my stroke. So I stopped cooking for a year."
Over a number of years, Lee's brain would reform connections, restoring an ability to remember what happened from one minute to the next, giving her - a writer before it happened - the ability to again read a paragraph and remember the first sentence by the time she finished.
It's a fascinating exploration of how memory works. Different types of memories are stored in different ways, and after the stroke injured her brain, only fragments or images of certain memories were available.
But for Lee, chronicling everything was also a way of understanding her transformation. It's a document that shows how she moved on from that experience, and lessons that can be taken forward. In an interview with NPR's Scott Simon earlier in February, Lee explained how reading from her journal to reconstruct the story for her memoir helped her get through postpartum depression and the end of her marriage.She told him:
- Cannes Lions 2021: India brings home a Gold, four Silver Lions and three Bronze Lions on Day 2
- E-commerce management platform CommerceIQ raises $60 million, looks to launch India operations by 2022
- Best power banks under ₹ 1000 to buy in India for 2021
- Best business laptops in India for 2021
- India is reportedly mulling over a new crypto tax which could make trading on foreign exchanges more expensive