Is something wrong with my brain??
November 22, 2009 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Something odd happened to me cognitively last night. Have you experienced anything similar?

After a dinner party at my own house at which I'd had only ONE drink (hours earlier) I went out to walk the dog. I was very tired but felt normal. I looked at the house numbers that are stuck on my mailbox and they looked "wrong" -- I thought the number was off by one digit. That is, the mailbox said 7889 and I thought it was supposed to read 7859. 7889 looked totally unfamiliar. For a moment I thought the lawn guys who were there that afternoon must have knocked the numbers off the mailbox and put them on in the wrong order, so I assumed the other side of the mailbox would now say 7559. But again, it was 7889. I got a chill. This didn't seem like my address. Suddenly a fog lifted and I remembered that indeed it is my address and has been for the last 4 years that I've lived here: 7889. No 5s in it at all, ever. The episode lasted about 40 seconds I guess. The number 7859 seemed weirdly familiar to me all day until I remembered it was indeed the house number of a place I lived years ago, and where a friend still lives -- I sent her a letter there a few weeks ago so I guess it was in the back of my mind.
Last week I had a concussion. I'm a little freaked out. I can't see going to the emergency room over this though.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Do I have early alzheimer's or brain damage? Or was I just tired and having a weird moment? I am 45.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you had a concussion last week, you might have a few odd moments as the damage heals. I have similar very short spells of confusion when I have a migraine (my migraines are painless, just visual disturbances and a little bit of aphasia and these little nuggets of confusion).

I wouldn't go to the emergency room over this either, but you might want to keep a little log of this and any other incidents that strike you as odd in the near future, and if you rack up more than a couple, make a doctor's appointment. Write down the details and circumstances when they are as fresh as possible, for documentation purposes.

It's more likely that the experience is just one of those things, though. It's not all that different than a word looking wrong when you've spelled it right, or momentarily forgetting your own phone number. Getting old sucks.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:27 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

A similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago when I was giving out my address to someone. I gave the number as 55, which is correct, but at the time it seemed wrong and I tried to correct myself, but couldn't come up with a better alternative. After a brief interval (less than 30 seconds) I realized that 55 was correct. I've lived here for 5 years, I'm in my early 30s. I decided that this was just one of those normal random brain things that happen, like calling someone by the wrong name or turning down the wrong street.
posted by ellenaim at 5:32 PM on November 22, 2009

When I had a concussion a few months ago, I experienced odd (and thankfully infrequent) bouts of confusion similar to what you describe. As Lyn Never says, keep track of them. If they become more frequent, more intense, or longer-lasting, I would take that as a sign that nature isn't just taking its proper course and make an appointment to see a doctor right away.
posted by DrGail at 5:42 PM on November 22, 2009

Similar things sometimes happen to me when I get migraines as well.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 5:43 PM on November 22, 2009

I'm 48, and stay mentally active (if not physically) and I have similar experiences with growing regularity. It's part of aging. I've forgotten my address a few times when filling out forms. I increasingly forget the names of actors in my favorite films. ("It's on the tip of my tongue!") When juggling numerous projects at work (which is every day) I don't even try to answer questions about anything that's not right in front of me.

I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by The Deej at 5:48 PM on November 22, 2009

Last night I couldn't for the life of me remember one of my best friend's phone number. He's had it for over then years. At the same time, I rattled off his number growing up, his old pager number, and his old work number. So my vote is you, like me, just had a nice brain fart.
posted by notsnot at 5:52 PM on November 22, 2009

Mental confusion like that is a pretty standard post-concussion symptom. I don't say you should go to the emergency room necessarily, but you did see a doctor after you got the concussion, right? Strange, strange things can happen as a result of concussions - strange things that have long-term, lasting effects - so you should see a doctor routinely after they happen. If you haven't been checked out yet, do go in at some point to the doctor, especially since it happened so recently. And keep track of any future symptoms that pop up - dizziness, disorientation, et cetera - because it's not usually easy for a doctor to fully assess what damage might have occurred (since, well, cutting your head open is pretty much not an option.)
posted by koeselitz at 5:57 PM on November 22, 2009

Ah, "brain fart", like notsnot said. That's the word I was looking for!
posted by ellenaim at 6:04 PM on November 22, 2009

When I had a bad concussion, it took about six months before I felt totally back to normal. The first few days were quite hazy, and the first week I was very off. I couldn't work a whole day for a while. Even a month or so later, I find I lost concentration very easily.

This is pretty common, or at least that's what I got from talking to others about it.

Google "brain injury" at your own risk.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:27 PM on November 22, 2009

A one time event...don't worry about it...if it happens over and over again, talk to your doctor...
posted by HuronBob at 7:30 PM on November 22, 2009

For these types of things I always fall back on what a former history teacher told me: First time = incidence. Second time = coincidence. Third time = fact. So, Nthing to not worry about this incidence, unless over time it turns into a fact.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:46 PM on November 22, 2009

I had a concussion three weeks ago, and while I didn't have number problems like you, I did tend to drop words and morphemes (in writing and speech) more than usual for a while. Keep going to your doctor for regular follow-ups. If these brain farts begin to bother you more, happen more frequently or become more confusing, make a non-emergency-but-sooner-than-usual followup visit.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:52 PM on November 22, 2009

Sounds like Jamais Vu, Deja's less familiar cousin.
posted by Conductor71 at 8:52 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had something weird like this happen to me one day a couple years ago (I was 45) - every website I normally visit during my morning coffee (including MeFi and Kottke), looked somehow wrong to me. Even though I couldn't pinpoint what was different, it seemed as though the design for every site had changed. I even checked to see that there was some sort of "change your website's design for a day" thing happening.

I told my wife about it and she was concerned enough to convince me to see our doctor. Reluctantly, I went and he put me through a series of simple cognitive tests, which showed nothing. Nothing even close to that day has happened again since.
posted by davebush at 9:33 PM on November 22, 2009

I am surprised that no one mentioned the alternative parallel Universe theory! The concession seems to explain away the event, but I have to say that hairs on my neck stood up because I experienced a similar situation recently and haven't had any head trauma.
posted by bprater at 3:05 AM on November 23, 2009

This is really similar to some memory bugs I had in the 3-4 weeks after I had a concussion, earlier this year. Memory bugs alone are something the docs warned me about, but did not indicate I needed to return to the ER or my PCP for further attention. The things they DID tell me to return for were nausea, dizziness, sleepiness/not waking, pupils different sizes. So these memory bugs, which happened most often toward the end of the day as I got more tired, were frustrating but harmless (for me) and trailed off with time.

I will tell you, that the cognitive symptoms of a concussion for me lasted several weeks, and they were made MUCH worse by alcohol to the point where it was unpleasant for me to drink at all. YMMV
posted by bunnycup at 5:38 AM on November 23, 2009

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