Things you don’t know you don’t know




I’m beginning to lose more stuff. Memory. Knowledge.

And with this come the lessening of self confidence and the irritation at being reminded that “you did know that because you told me about it”.

Once or twice I’ve had to admit in meetings that I couldn’t remember what was said, who was there, the meeting at all.

And that knocks you a bit.
You feel less in control.
In fact, out of control.
Especially when you are chairing!

Today I was told that a couple had split up some time ago. I said I didn’t know and was sad and surprised.
Yes you did know. You told me. You met her several times and she told you all about it.


That shakes confidence.
I don’t know what I don’t know.
I don’t know whether what I do remember is right.

And it irritates.
Because I don’t know whether I did know that, or not.
And if I did, and I’ve lost it, what else have I lost.
And it’s not nice being told you’ve forgotten something.

And I begin understand the advice for carers of people with dementia…

Don’t tell me I know something, or used to know it, just pretend I didn’t know and tell me about it.

That feels comfortable.

I’m still in the halfway zone I think.

I can remember a lot.
And usually I can get back to the picture that is hidden away, find the pathway to it, and remember.

It’s like a picture
Hanging in an attic or perhaps a cellar
There are so many there you can’t find the one you want.
Yes it’s there.
You can remember most of the pictures you bought and stored.
But not all.
When someone shows you it you recognise it.
Remember when you bought it, where, why…

But gradually you don’t.
They slip away.
They stay out of sight.
And you just don’t know they ever existed.
They’re at the back of the pile, like the posters in IKEA and art shops, in the big racks,
And you can’t reach the back ones, can’t see them, haven’t quite got the strength to pull the front ones away so you can see them.

I seem to be getting there.

And as that wonderful American Rumsfeld said,

There are things you know you know,
There are things you know you don’t know
There are things you don’t know you know, and
There are things you don’t know you don’t know.

And that seems to be dementia.

3 thoughts on “Things you don’t know you don’t know

  1. You’ve put this perfectly George – I’m at this stage with you. I’ve learnt at the mo not to believe everything I’m thinking! I woke up this morning convinced of something and then worked my way back through the day to realise it was my brain playing tricks on me. very hard to decipher truth from reality……….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s