Is This It?

I want to find out why I have young onset cognitive decline. I’ve been doing the things that are recommended, like following a Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly, losing weight, socializing, and playing brain games, but my memory is getting worse.

A couple of my doctors have wanted me tested for sleep apnea. I had two home sleep tests. The second one showed some mild sleep apnea. It seemed to be another partial diagnosis for the symptoms I’ve had during the last twenty years. I’ve been through many tests and received many insufficient diagnoses. We’ve thought my fatigue, weakness, and brain fog could be caused by arthritis, hip labral tear, reactive airway disease, food allergies, GERD, myofascial pain syndrome, depression, anxiety, fatty liver, and now sleep apnea. Every diagnosis is for a mild case, and then my depression, anxiety, and self doubt kicks in.

I finally had an overnight sleep study, and the sleep center technician told me afterwards that I worried her, because I began my sleep session with 80-81% oxygen saturation. I did a quick Google search, and found that abnormal oxygen saturation is under 88%, and severely abnormal is under 80%. I looked it up, and having low oxygen is called hypoxia or hypoxemia. Two years ago, shortly after I retired, I was hospitalized with acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and pneumonia. Twenty years ago I was treated for bacterial pneumonia, and ever since then I’ve been prone to lung infections, yet a full examination of my lungs by a respiratory specialist showed that I don’t have asthma.

So is this it? Has low oxygen caused my cognitive decline? My working memory has been getting worse, and coincidentally I’ve been getting less good sleep. I want to know what’s causing my memory problems. It’s not enough to do preventive things. I want to make sure that I don’t decline any further. It’s so hard to wait for test results. I’m ready to do something. It’s time to call in the troops, and circle the wagons. This might be it. I might be able to stabilize my memory, but I’m not going to allow myself to think that I could get some of my memory back. I’m jumping the gun already. One sentence from the sleep technician and I’ve made my own diagnosis, and I’m starting to make my own treatment plan.

But still, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know why this has been happening? Wouldn’t it be great to do something tangible to fight my decline? I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’m allowing myself to be a bit more hopeful this week.

Photo by Aaron Burden on

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