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Severe cognitive decline; Any thoughts?

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Old 07-01-2018, 06:50 PM   #1
Darwayne
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Default Severe cognitive decline; Any thoughts?

Hello all,

I'm a 22 year old male and for the past 4.5 years, I have been dealing with a significant cognitive functioning issue. It has made it difficult for understanding anything with the slightest bit of complexity. As someone who's strong point was by far math, science, critical/logical thinking, and problem solving, it was quite the dramatic transition. When it happened, I had to drop out of high school and saw many doctors to no avail. It was a sudden decline that occurred around a few nights where I drank a normal amount with my friend 3 or so nights in a row. I had drank many times before so I don't think it correlates. Otherwise, no drugs and nothing out of the blue. I apologize if this gets lengthy. Grab the reading glasses and please bear with me!

I'll start with what I think is the root issue. Basically, any time I hear or think of any word (or anything else, not just words), I don't get a flash of meaning or understanding for that word based on previous experience with it. I don't get mental visualization of things I'm thinking of. I don't know what process it is I'm missing because I've been so long without it, but I believe it's like I said, having that inner self-created meaning/visualization automatically pop up in relation to their corresponding words. I also apologize if certain things get repetitive. I just don't know what might come across as making sense and what won't depending on how I phrase it.

EXAMPLES - To better understand exactly how it effects my constantly. If you really are curious, feel free to read them all but to gather the cliff notes, just 2-3 of these paragraphs will probably explain the gist then skip to "My over-all Health and Things I've tried". Or just ignore all this and tell me I'm crazy! They're all a little different so I threw a bunch in:

-A basic example that'll make a good starter would be when my buddy mentioned he was going to hyperventilate to stay underwater longer. I can't for the life of me understand what hyperventilation means. I knew what it was and what it meant most of my life but since my cognitive decline, I don't get visual meaning that shows what hyperventilation is when I hear the word. This goes for any word, hyperventilation is just the word I decided to make an example out of. I can recite what hyperventilating is with words and explain it but I won't understand what I'm explaining. It's very strange to me that I can often explain certain things that I can't even understand myself. To think of what it means to me, rather than it just popping in my head from memory or getting a flash visual of the way I've understood it before, I have to keep pondering over the word and think through the process of it. I may eventually be able to faintly visualize the act of breathing heavily. This isn't a visual I'll be able to remember, I'll just have it while in deep thought trying to figure out what hyperventilating is. I may even have to have to start breathing heavily to make myself understand it. If I do take my time and visualize what hyperventilating is so I understand it, I can't just re-have that visual I created so I can understand it on the dime again in the future. If I use the word again 20 seconds later, I don't have a visual that pops up simultaneously that shows what the word means.

-I was out bowling. For my 2nd roll, the pins were set up a certain way from my first roll where I took out most of the right pins and 1 or 2 in the back middle left. I thought through how I should hit it and figured out what I thought was a good roll because of the domino effect it would have but once I stopped thinking of that and tried to think it again before the roll or when I had the same set up a couple turns later, I had to go through the same task of looking at the set up the pins are in and go through the same process of listing the steps of why the way I thought would be the most efficient way to roll. I have to go through the same process I had to go through the first time when figuring out why rolling the ball this way would be my best chance. Any time in the future, I'll just have to repeat this same rethinking process or I can just roll using the strategy but completely not understand it or why I'm using it. I should be able to visualize what I visualized when I first came up with the plan/idea of how I need to roll it and automatically recall the understanding I made. Also, I should be able to visualize this plan/idea without looking at the pins but I can't. I have to look at them to think about them like that because I can't create the mental picture of them in my head.

Maybe the issue is that I'm not creating these visuals, not just that I cannot memorize or recall them. That's why I have to be looking at the pins to come up with a simple strategy of how I'll roll or why I have to be looking at a traffic light to understand a simple strategy I might use every day when pulling up to one. I can hardly think about them without looking at them.

-At work I was going through invoices and organizing them. I was putting certain numbers in a certain stack for a certain reason and I understood it when I first thought of it. When I try to rethink of it each time I put another paper in the pile, I have to stop and try to re-understand what that stack is for and why I'm putting papers there. Shouldn't I be able to just get a visual that makes me automatically remember/understand it like I did when I first made the process?

-Another example: Things like using a comma in the right place. When I used to think of where to use a comma, when it came to a place where it was needed I would get a flash visual memory that reminds me where/what a comma is used for. That flash visual memory would take me back to previous understanding I've made on commas and their purpose. Now it 100% automatic for me and I've noticed I've gotten worse and worse at fuguring out where/when to use them.

-At one of my jobs, I sell lotto and have been doing it for over 2 years. If someone made money off a ticket it'll show a -$(amount) meaning I owe them that amount, if they owe for tickets they purchased, it will show the $(amount) without the minus sign. To this day, any time I see the amount, I have to think through and figure out what each one means so I know whether they owe me or I owe them because I don't make automatic understandings over time anymore. I can't look at it and automatically fully understand based on previous experience. When I stop to think “okay Evan, minus means I owe them”, just thinking that doesn't make it make sense because it lacks meaning when I say it. The statement doesn't carry inner visuals or whatever that shows me what it actually means so I have to carry out actions automatically based on experience from my younger days.


-This is an example I had written in my notes from 5 months ago when I got my blood tested and found my T3 and T4 were incredibly low but soon found out that my T3 & T4 Free levels were completely normal therefore I have a protein binding deficiency which while rare, has absolutely no side effects. Anyways:

I haven't been drinking at all lately a lot to do with the fact that it effects thyroid and my thyroid seems to be funky. When people ask me why I'm not drinking, I just say for health but in my head every time, I try to recall why and tell myself “not drinking because of my thyroid” but that's all I get in my head, those simple words with empty meaning. I don't get any visual meaning/understanding of what thyroid is or its correlation to drinking or any understanding of why I'm not drinking because of thyroid. I don't get the original visual had when realizing I should stop drinking because it effects thyroid.


-While watching football, there was a play that was called “forward progress” but there was no forward progress in the play (******** call) so when I tried to think of how it was forward progress, I couldn't get the automatic understanding of what forward progress was. Usually I get through these types of situations because I get to see them and that ends up being my definition. For example, usually when forward progress is called, there's actual forward progress so I get to see it and that automatically associates with the words “forward progress” for me. If I don't get to see it, I don't have that inner recollection where I see in my head what it is.

-An example just yesterday at the gym I attend, I was doing my usual swim. I swim typically 5 times a week and was doing some intervals towards the end. I did 2 laps from when the timer read 4:30 to when it read 5:40 (minutes:seconds). I was trying to think if that meant I did 40 seconds per lap or 35. I had a quick visual thought where I thought - just split the extra 10 seconds in half and add to the two 30's so it's 35 seconds per lap. See, this visual that I had I will never be able to have again from memory. When I have this same question during my next 2 lap interval, the only way I can think of this again is to be in the same predicament trying to figure out how long it took me per lap. I don't get the automatic visual memory pop up and have it figured out immediately from the last 250 times I've thought through it in the pool.


MY OVER-ALL HEALTH AND THINGS I'VE TRIED:

I'm quite healthy. I eat some junk but much healthier than the average american. I swim 1-2 miles almost daily (5-6 times a week). I drink lightly maybe once every 2 weeks. No drugs, no meds. I've tried B-complex and fish-oil for months in the past. Tried Frankincense essential oil under tongue for months. Tried pro-biotic, B6, B12, and Magnesium together for months. I've tried zinc and Iodine supps at different times for over a month, no help (seems random but I've shown low on Iodine in blood test).

Here's one little clue that might help along with the examples I spewed. About 2 years ago, I connected with a friend from another state and he sent me marijuana wax (highly concentrated THC). I smoked it 2-4 times daily for 3 months. I wasn't the same as before the cognitive decline but it definitely helped produce mental visuals. I was suddenly imagining/picturing everything I thought of so I could understand it better. I was also memorizing some strategies I was making too. This went away a couple days after I quit. Essentially, I was much smarter and more capable of handling things while using it than I am in my sober pathetic current state. I'd like that to be my final fix if I can't find the issue.

When it started, I saw every kind of doctor. Got MRI, MRA, 40 min & 1 day EEG, tons of blood tests, everything came up normal. At the time, I had no idea how to explain my issue. Only very recently did I get more clarity of my issue and form the examples/explanations I gave above. Since the recent accurate explanations, I've started setting up doc appt's. I saw a neurologist who ordered an MRI w/o contrast of brain and MRI w/contrast of pituitary (I have history of HGH and testosterone deficiency so he was curious). Both turned up normal. The T deficiency has since been fixed with HCG injections; I had low LH. He has me set to do a 40 minute EEG and I'm going to do it just for kicks because I've already met my insurance deductible. I plan to see a neuro-psych next.

I've received a fair amount of blood work recently too. everything was normal. I mentioned above I have a protein binding deficiency. T3 and T4 show super low as does TBG (thyroid binding globulin) but Free T3 & T4 show normal). Vitamin D, iron, cholesterol,cortisol, B12, B6, potassium, etc always show normal. White blood cell count has showed up at 3.3k and 3.7k within last year but seems normal. I don't think I've been sick in 3 years.

One of my doctors is more holistic and had me do a glucose tolerance test with 75mg Sugar and after 1 hour, I went from 74 (on fast) to (on 30 minute intervals) 131, 82, 62, 62, 42. He felt this was significant but the endocrinologist I see said it was a completely normal reaction and most people would react the same way to that much sugar. I tried ketogenic/paleo diet for 10 days, didn't show any beneficial effects. Tried salad only no Sugar diet for 6 days, no benefit.

When it first started, I remember complaining that the bags under my eyes got darker and deeper. I think I also may have complained about a nauseous feeling in the brain sort of like when you get motion sick minus the sickness, just the feeling of **** going on in the brain where it gets uncomfortable. I'm guessing this was just from the anxiety/emotion of suddenly being not being able to figure out or understand things I understood days before. At this point, I think I'm just throwing wrenches at the case for you guys in case something stands out as a symptom for something. For those that read through this, thank you. If you do recommend something that makes sense and help me find the issue/fix, I swear to god I will come back to connect with you ** it's just how important this is to my life. Sorry for the short novel.

Last edited by Chemar; 07-01-2018 at 07:57 PM. Reason: **admin edit per guidelines
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:08 PM   #2
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Hi Darwayne

Welcome to NeuroTalk .

Some thoughts which I hope may help:

From what you have written I think that your language skills are very good. The parts of the brain which do language are in a number of places so the probability of a lesion in any of them is small.

You use the term "visual meaning" or similar to describe not being able get a visual image of a word or concept. One of your examples is "hyperventilation". When I typed that word I did not need to use an image of somebody breathing very deeply to know what it means.

This fits with what we understand about use of language - it has been described as "words and rules"; some parts of your brain store words and other parts which do not totally overlap use rules to combine them into well-formed written or spoken sentences. This is a more detailed explanation of why I think the language modules in your brain are fine.

You said that you used high doses of THC for an extended period. I don't think this is a good idea. At your age your brain is still developing. I am not meaning to scare you but at your age prolonged use of high doses of THC is a risk factor for schizophrenia.
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Old 07-03-2018, 10:22 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by kiwi33 View Post
Hi Darwayne

Welcome to NeuroTalk .

Some thoughts which I hope may help:

From what you have written I think that your language skills are very good. The parts of the brain which do language are in a number of places so the probability of a lesion in any of them is small.

You use the term "visual meaning" or similar to describe not being able get a visual image of a word or concept. One of your examples is "hyperventilation". When I typed that word I did not need to use an image of somebody breathing very deeply to know what it means.

This fits with what we understand about use of language - it has been described as "words and rules"; some parts of your brain store words and other parts which do not totally overlap use rules to combine them into well-formed written or spoken sentences. This is a more detailed explanation of why I think the language modules in your brain are fine.

You said that you used high doses of THC for an extended period. I don't think this is a good idea. At your age your brain is still developing. I am not meaning to scare you but at your age prolonged use of high doses of THC is a risk factor for schizophrenia.
Hi Kiwi,

Thank you for the thoughtful reply! Yes, I may explain it poorly sometimes because I truly don't know exactly what I'm missing. All I can explain is the situations in which it effects me.

For language, my speech did indeed get worse verbally but not drastically. The only effects I've noted are I can't talk as fast as I used to and I certainly can explain anything complex because if I can't rap my mind around it or understand it myself, I likely won't be able to explain to soundly to others.
The only other speech effect I noticed was I struggle to find the word I'm looking for for words typically with 6+ characters.

I think a better take on the "hyperventilation" subject would be... Maybe it isn't a visualization of someone actually hyperventilating that I should be getting but when I hear or say the word, it's just a word for me. When you hear or say it, is it just a word or does your brain instantly create meaning for the word based on your understanding/experience with it? A flash of meaning goes along with the word for you so you don't have to stop and figure out what it means each time right? It's just a word for me until I stop and make myself visualize someone being in the water, then I will try to think of them breathing heavily and step by step, I'll give understanding to what hyperventilation is. See, if on the spot you asked me what hyperventilation is, I could tell you the definition. Little to your knowledge (not directed at you, just the person that asks me), in my head I'm not following along or producing substance of what I'm saying so it hyperventilation still won't make sense to me.


Another good example could be using the shifter in my car. It's automatic but any time I go into manual mode, I have no grasp or understanding on why I should go up or down gears. I understood the hell out of it back in freshman and sophomore year of high school when I used to drive my friend's 4wheeler and my first car. If I decide I want to go into first gear, I don't have any memory or association with "1st gear" from the past that gives me meaning for what 1st gear is for. I'd have to stop and try to figure out what 1st gear's use is the same way I'd have to wit hyperventilation. In 2 minutes, when I want to go into first gear again (if I want to understand why I'm going into 1st gear) I have to stop and think hard about what 1st gear is for again.

Sorry for the long text. It's just so difficult to explain and such a mystery. I know marijuana has its risks like any pharma meds. I personally don't think either are particularly good; that's why marijuana is my last resort and I haven't just given up and signed up for medical license here in FL. But if worst comes to worst, I'm going to do what I have to do. I'll do everything I can to find a cure before that
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Old 07-03-2018, 11:26 AM   #4
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It sounds as though the connection between the visual memory and the word itself is interrupted.


To say one doesn't have to picture it to know what it means I think in part is true because when you self analyze you can find the meaning but I think with everyone else that the visual comes with the word but is so fast that we don't realize it. Like imagining a smell. We know what lemons smell like and for a fleeting moment we can see and smell them when we think of them. It is automatic.


It reminds me of those people who cannot recall what happened five seconds ago.

I am going to tell you something and many people are going to disagree but first of all only adolescents are really at risk for schizophrenia from OVERUSE of marijuana and all medications have risks. You could do far, far, worse on prescription meds.


do not quit searching for an answer but if the CBD capsules, or wax, or flower help you then use it. It was put here for a reason and has been used safely for thousands of years. Find yourself a good caregiver who will help you with types and dosages. find a holistic doc that will help you also. I know you want it as a last resort, there is such a horrible stigma. Up to you of course. If you do CBD capsules there is no THC or at best trace amounts, so you do not get 'high' but the cannabinoids do their work. Now me I love my wax and flower and occasionally do heavy indica medibles in the evening to help with sleep and the THC and the CBD help me with anxiety, severe bipolar II depression, premenstrual dysphoria, menopause, insomnia, migraines, IBS and some types of pain.
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Old 07-04-2018, 03:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by houghchrst View Post
It sounds as though the connection between the visual memory and the word itself is interrupted.


To say one doesn't have to picture it to know what it means I think in part is true because when you self analyze you can find the meaning but I think with everyone else that the visual comes with the word but is so fast that we don't realize it. Like imagining a smell. We know what lemons smell like and for a fleeting moment we can see and smell them when we think of them. It is automatic.


It reminds me of those people who cannot recall what happened five seconds ago.

I am going to tell you something and many people are going to disagree but first of all only adolescents are really at risk for schizophrenia from OVERUSE of marijuana and all medications have risks. You could do far, far, worse on prescription meds.


do not quit searching for an answer but if the CBD capsules, or wax, or flower help you then use it. It was put here for a reason and has been used safely for thousands of years. Find yourself a good caregiver who will help you with types and dosages. find a holistic doc that will help you also. I know you want it as a last resort, there is such a horrible stigma. Up to you of course. If you do CBD capsules there is no THC or at best trace amounts, so you do not get 'high' but the cannabinoids do their work. Now me I love my wax and flower and occasionally do heavy indica medibles in the evening to help with sleep and the THC and the CBD help me with anxiety, severe bipolar II depression, premenstrual dysphoria, menopause, insomnia, migraines, IBS and some types of pain.
Wow, you actually hit the nail on the head. I've tried to explain it to so many people but that's the part I have trouble getting past. Most people say they don't get a visual with words or idea. That's why I say "automatic" flash or visual you get going along with the word. It just brings your previous experience or association of that word to light as soon as you hear/say it. Gives the word meaning for you automatically.

Honestly, I have no issues at all with marijuana. I'm just trying to cater to others' opinions when it comes to forums. I've noticed many on health forums don't entirely agree with it. Certain health forums don't even let you speak of marijuana unless you're condemning it or discussing how you quit lol.

Trust me, I feel it's 10x better than most prescription meds. People have placed way too much trust in big pharma and I'm glad all that corruption is coming to light. We have hundreds of chemicals put in popular make ups and directly used products in the US that are banned from usage in many countries. It all comes down to $$$. I've done tons of research on marijuana and I do believe it's a big problem IF you start smoking too young. I've seen it turn people into losers for the rest of their life over and over again when they start in early high school while important brain development is still occurring. I don't see nearly as many detrimental problems caused by weed as I do from prescription drugs and a lot of people smoke weed now a days.

The only reason I want it as a last resort is when I was doing it, I still wasn't the same smart kid I was before. I was just in a much better, smarter place than I am currently. I also don't want to rely on something that will consume $$ monthly unless I have to. It also made it impossible for me to exercise and we all know how important exercising is. It effects everyone differently because I know tons of pot heads that exercise just fine. It made it so when I did something active, the muscles I used would hurt immensely for like 5 minutes after use. Like really, really bad pain, not soreness or anything (I have a high pain tolerance). Have you ever experienced that? The fact that I had been so inactive for like a year prior to that exercise wise could've contributed but it stopped happening when I quit.

Thanks for translating and understanding my issue. Going to use it to explain to people. It could help a lot!
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Old 07-04-2018, 11:45 PM   #6
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This is speculation but I wonder if both of you have an unusual form of synesthesia, which is not a pathology.

Its most common form is colour synesthesia; "seeing" in your mind different letters and/or numbers associated with different colours - A might appear green, B might appear blue, 4 might appear red, 7 might appear yellow, etc. There are many forms of it; probably about 4% of the population experience it.

What you both experience, "seeing" a visual image of a word or concept could be a form of synesthesia.
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Old 07-06-2018, 09:41 AM   #7
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Here is an article to kind of show what I mean

https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...-spoken-aloud/
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Old 07-08-2018, 04:48 PM   #8
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Here is an article to kind of show what I mean
[/B]
That link is gold! Definitely a keep-sake for me. Thank you for finding that. I'm going to do some extensive & expensive testing for Lyme disease while waiting for my scheduled appt with a highly acclaimed neuro-psych nearby and am happy to have this link to show him. Could be very beneficial!

Thank you for helping a brother out lol. Seriously, very much appreciated. Hopefully this gives my doc some clues.
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Old 07-09-2018, 07:38 AM   #9
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Glad to help . I have heard some really bizarre behaviors that can come from Lyme Disease, there are the 'sick' symptoms and then there are complete psychological change in personality. A good friend of mine has a sister that has lyme disease and she went from being a grade A student and great kid to a complete turn around in personality. Took a while for someone to think of checking for lyme disease, they were close to having her hospitalized but while they were considering one of her docs thought to test her. Thank God, now she is being treated. I have read that sometimes you have to do antibiotics for a really long time and often the 'quick' tests are wrongly negative.



If you will keep us posted. I am very interested in how you do. I totally get what you are talking about and think of your condition often. I hope you find something or someone that can help.
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