Back in 2005, I was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor (I was the 3rd person in the entire world to be diagnosed with it.) After four brain surgeries I went through radiation treatment which killed the remaining cancerous tissue, but resulted in me being left with short term memory loss. I was 13 at the time of diagnosis and I am now 20.

EDIT: I'm not really sure how to prove this, but just let me know whatever is needed for confirmation.

EDIT 2: The type of memory loss I have is called Mild Cognitive Impairment

"A subtle increase in memory loss may be an indication of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The memory problems can significantly affect victims, but the symptoms are not as severe as those associated with Alzheimer's, according to the University of California, San Francisco. People with MCI may start to have difficulty remembering the names of people, maintaining a conversation due to forgetfulness or remembering where they placed items. However, the person with MCI is often aware of these difficulties and tries to compensate by writing messages or notes to help remember. He may be able to perform many activities without help. But his mild memory loss may interfere with planning or the ability to remember events and objects."

Comments: 377 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

AlGamaty122 karma

How has this affected your social life?





How has this affected your social life?

SilentWalrus9270 karma

The biggest thing is that when I meet new people, the next time I see them I usually don't remember them.

It has made it so that I have few close friends

KoGJazz90 karma

You've only answered one question. Did you forget you were doing this?

SilentWalrus92228 karma

I don't remember

AmericaTheHero60 karma

I like you.

SilentWalrus9251 karma

And I like you good Sir/Madame

michaelrohansmith59 karma

Amazing that you survived brain cancer. Well done.

SilentWalrus9252 karma

Thank you. It was pretty terrifying, but I've been healthy for almost 8 years now. The memory loss sucks, but after 8 years I've learned what I need to do to make my life a lot easier.

imnoking6 karma

Can you give us an example of something you do to make it easier?

SilentWalrus929 karma

Writing everything I need to remember down. I have notebooks full of reminders. I also have 2 whiteboards hanging near my bed and near my door, to write down reminders, like what I'm doing that day.

KaziArmada7 karma

Does constantly seeing reminders written down let them sink into your head, meaning you'll eventelly remember with without help? Or how does that work?

SilentWalrus924 karma

Yes. Repetition helps tremendously

rorybrinkmann52 karma

What are your feelings of your condition being perpetuated in finding Nemo?

SilentWalrus9283 karma

Dory is awesome. I'm not as bad as her thankfully, but there are several points in the movie where she reminds me of myself a lot

blindest_of_all_mice59 karma


SilentWalrus9266 karma

Like how she gets excited when she remembers something, and how she has the same conversation with Marlin twice. Oh, and when she can't really remember Nemo's name and calls him Fabio or other similar names. I do that all the time as a teacher with the names of the kids, but luckily I gets a laugh every time because they think I'm playing, so it's cool.

Ptylerdactyl10 karma

You're a teacher? I imagine that would be a hard job to do with memory loss.

SilentWalrus9216 karma

A substitute teacher.

shorpashorpashorpa35 karma

Do you ever use this to your advantage to avoid certain tasks? I have RLD, and I occasionally "misunderstand" when Im feeling particularly lazy.

SilentWalrus9237 karma

RLD? But yes, there have been times where I have used the "I forgot" excuse to my advantage, but it's rare. I make sure not to make it a regular thing.

shorpashorpashorpa27 karma

Receptive Language Disorder. My brain doesnt do the audio processing so well. I pretty much have to read things to understand and retain them. Otherwise it usuallly is jist a bunch of sounds

SilentWalrus9250 karma

Reading is also a problem for me, but in a different way. When I'm reading novels. Every time I read a chapter, I forget what I've read by the end of it. So I've had to start summarizing what I read in writing about halfway through every chapter. It's a pain in the ass, but it help me remember. I read my first book in 7 years just a few months ago.

brodie_sky26 karma

has a significant other ever exploited your condition or taken advantage of it?

SilentWalrus9258 karma

hmmm. Well if they have, I'm not aware of it. My friends have messed with me before, like purposely having the same conversation with me multiple times, but I don't think they've ever taken advantage

IgorsEpiskais19 karma

oh, did you fell for it? Can you tell us more? Like after how much time you did realize that they were messing with you? Or you just saw it right away?

SilentWalrus9287 karma

Here's a good example. Me and a friend of mine both eating some popcorn and I spilt mine by accident. So I clean it all up, throw it away, and when I turn around there's like 10 more pieces on the floor. I can't remember if I picked them all up. So I clean those, throw them away. Turn around and see more. Again, I forget that I had picked everything up. This went on for about 3 more times until I realized something was up (maybe by that time it had entered my long term memory). My friend had been throwing his popcorn on the floor to mess with me.

IgorsEpiskais52 karma

What an asshole, lol. That's hilarious.

SilentWalrus9249 karma

Lol, I know. But I just call him an ass, we laugh, then move on. But yeah, my close friends love to mess with me about my memory. I have a good sense of humor about it though, so it's all good.

happybazz23 karma

So, when you came on this and see a little "new message" symbol beside your username, do you say to yourself;

"I don't remember posting this on reddit?"

Serious question btw.

SilentWalrus9234 karma

No but there have been a lot of times on reddit where someone will reply to my comment but have no memory of ever making the comment.

MaverickAK22 karma

So that bet we had last week...

...when were you planning on paying up?

SilentWalrus9234 karma

Lol, I've had friends mess with about stuff like that (jokingly of course). But I purposely never borrow money for this reason.

OneTormentedFetus10 karma

Say you did borrow money off someone. If you left yourself a note that you saw every morning, or something, would you retain the memory that you had to pay someone back, or would it be a new experience every time?

I saw that you said if you talk about something over a period of time you retain it. But im talking about a brief moment once or twice a day.

SilentWalrus929 karma

Yes, repetition helps a lot. So if I see a daily reminder it becomes something I remember without having to see the reminder.

trautsla21 karma

You already did this AMA last week

SilentWalrus9229 karma

Well shit.... at least I have a good excuse to repost.

bonerquestions16 karma

cancer boy, do you still get regular boners?

when was the last erection you had?

SilentWalrus9229 karma

  1. yes

  2. I'm not sure. Yesterday?

JupiterIII15 karma

What did you want to grow up to be before the memory loss kicked in? Do you remember it? Did the memory loss affect your ability to accomplish that?

SilentWalrus9245 karma

I wanted to be a homicide detective like my grandfather, but I figured having memory loss would cause lots of problems on crime scenes and in courtrooms. My second choice was to be a college history professor, which will be much easier to manage. Worst case scenario: I forget to grade some tests. I'm currently 2 years into getting my teaching degree.

cheebaking45 karma

A homicide detective with short term memory loss? That's a TV show waiting to happen.

SilentWalrus9251 karma


"Detective, what did you find under the body?"

"ummm.....I don't remember."

Yeah, that'll got over well in court.

hotsauce12614 karma

I guess cramming for tests isn't really an option?

SilentWalrus9213 karma

Not at all.

webdevcrazy12 karma

Just some character profiling here.Do you take after Leonard Shelby from Memento or has the apple fallen closer to Drew Barrymore's persona from 50 First dates?

SilentWalrus925 karma

Well see, both of them had completely lost their ability to create new memories. Both very extreme cases of memory loss. I have something called MCI

Mild Cognitive Impairment

A subtle increase in memory loss may be an indication of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The memory problems can significantly affect victims, but the symptoms are not as severe as those associated with Alzheimer's, according to the University of California, San Francisco. People with MCI may start to have difficulty remembering the names of people, maintaining a conversation due to forgetfulness or remembering where they placed items. However, the person with MCI is often aware of these difficulties and tries to compensate by writing messages or notes to help remember. He may be able to perform many activities without help. But his mild memory loss may interfere with planning or the ability to remember events and objects.

webdevcrazy16 karma

yea I totally get it.MCI is how I feel before an exam.

SilentWalrus9218 karma

Just imagine being like that 24/7. For 8 years

sof81511 karma

How's your capacity to learn? I mean, if you go to /r/TIL or something like that, would you remember the things you read later on?

SilentWalrus9213 karma

Well it depends. If you just up to me and tell me a random fact, or your name. No, I probably won't remember it. But if we were to sit down and talked about a certain topic for a long time, then yes. I remember it.

sof8156 karma

So you would remember you did this IAmA?

SilentWalrus9214 karma


sof8154 karma

That's fascinating :D well, it doesn't seem too bad then, right?

Anyways, good luck with your life! Also, merry christmas! (if you celebrate it or something) n__n

SilentWalrus928 karma

No it's not that bad. It's manageable. And by writing things down and setting reminders i really dont notice it. Merry Christmas to you too!

OneTormentedFetus3 karma

Beats having cancer anyday.

SilentWalrus9211 karma

Oh, absolutely. It's a small price to pay to be cancer-free

uberzard149 karma


SilentWalrus9216 karma

That movie came out a couple years before my diagnosis and i thought it was hilarious, but when I rewatched it after all this happened it was 10x funnier.

uberzard145 karma


SilentWalrus927 karma

My parents have bought me several things to help with memorization. Such as, whiteboards and markers, notebooks, tape recorders, etc. and whenever they needed me to do something they wrote it down. Honestly, other than that, there's not much you can do.

DeathMetalFTW888 karma

How does it effect your problem solving process? For instance, if you were working out a complicated math problem would you maybe forget what you were doing half way through it? How would you deal with that?

SilentWalrus9217 karma

Actually, problem-solving is one of the fields I excel at. Not sure why, but when I'm solving an equation, or playing a puzzle game, I don't have memory problems with it.

DeathMetalFTW885 karma

Huh, that's really interesting. Maybe the parts of your brain that handle that aren't affected or something?

SilentWalrus928 karma

Maybe. Oh and chess is interesting because I'll see an opportunity to win and start working towards it but half way through the moves I'll forget what I'm doing and then make some completely unrelated move.

autumneyes8 karma

How long does your memory last?

SilentWalrus9222 karma

It's not really a set amount of time as far as I know, but there have been times where my girlfriend has asked me to grab her a coke out of the fridge and by the time I get to the kitchen I forget why I'm there.

autumneyes50 karma

I don't think you need to have short term memory loss for that to occur.

SilentWalrus9213 karma

I know. That's just one example. but I've been diagnosed with memory loss by Vanderbilt hospital.

autumneyes18 karma

I'm not doubting your condition, just saying that happens to the best of us.

SilentWalrus9219 karma

I know. I just don't want you to think I'm self. diagnosed or something. Like those people that are like, " oh my god! I'm for getting stuff all the time. I must have short term memory loss."

JacobQ2 karma

I've been to Vanderbilt nice place, Nashville I'm guessing.

SilentWalrus923 karma

Yes. And actually, because of my age at the time of diagnosis, it was Vanderbilt Children's Hospital"

phantombagpiper7 karma

Would you rather forget about 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?

SilentWalrus9238 karma

Who are you again?

bstein23137 karma

Have you ever thought about using medical cannabis as a way to help?

SilentWalrus9262 karma

Medical? No.

throwSAaway4 karma

I'm a bit worried that I have something similar. I just forget things so easily...I started a new job a few months ago and when I'm talking to people I seem to forget most of what they said just moments later.

I have moderate social anxiety as well, and I used to think it was because I was concentrating so much on my interactions with people, but it is happening a lot when I am alone too.

SilentWalrus926 karma

Well, if I'm not mistaken, any local hospital can run some tests and diagnosis you

sulkee4 karma

I got a new mouth-based video game you can play.

SilentWalrus9215 karma

I swear to god sulkee, if this is sexual...

Asapv3 karma

Was there a day that you forgot something big that affected you later?

SilentWalrus929 karma

Hmmm.... That is a good question. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything. I mean, I've forgotten to go to job interviews and stuff like that, but no, nothing life changing has happened as a result of me forgetting something.

dirtknapp3 karma

I was hoping every question would be answered with "I don't remember".

SilentWalrus929 karma

I would have done that, but I figured the mods would delete the post

Blink1EightyJew3 karma

Do you realize when you've forgotten something? Like do you think "shit, I forgot something" or does what you forgot leave your mind without a trace?

SilentWalrus925 karma

Yeah, for the most part, when I forget something, I know. But no matter how hard I think about it, I don't remember. That's why I've turned to writing everything important down.

webdevcrazy3 karma

Oh and also,have you considered using an app like Evernote to help you remember stuff?

SilentWalrus927 karma

Never heard of Evernote. But I do have a "To-do list" app

Doig18183 karma

Crazy condition man! I remember reading the post of a board builder on a skateboarding forum who had a similar thing. I tried and failed to find his post. I can't recall if what he had is called MCI (is that a description of your symptoms or something more idk... Physical?) Do you think he might be one of those 3 people with the condition? He did the same thing, writing post it notes everywhere. His username was 'Scratch' because it was like he started every day from scratch :-D

On to an actual question: Have you ever talked to someone with similar short term memory loss? I can imagine it would being a rather large comical conversation :-D

SilentWalrus925 karma

Now the memory loss i have is not what only 3 others have. That's the brain tumor. The memory loss is fairly common with anyone who get radiation therapy to the head.

I have not, knowingly, had a conversation with someone with memory loss. Well, except my granddad, but I don't know if that counts since forgetfulness is just a result of old age.

facebutter3 karma

So, do you remember you did this AMA?

SilentWalrus923 karma

Yes but there are several questions on here I don't remember answering

grumpycatrose3 karma

Has your MCI ever severely impacted a relationship? family, friend, girlfriend, etc.

SilentWalrus9212 karma

No. Just a minor annoyance. Ive asked my girlfriend the same questions about her multiple times (ie: what's your favorite restaurant). And have told her the same stories over and over. But luckily I found a girl that's extremely understanding and it doesn't bother her.

cheesywotsits3 karma

Did a quick scan of the comments but didn't see this question. Do you mind being more specific about the type of cancer?

SilentWalrus924 karma

Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma

niggejdave3 karma

Ever seen Memento?

SilentWalrus928 karma

Yes and I actually Stole a few of his memorization techniques.

ornirulz3 karma

Do you ever lie to your friends, knowing that they could bring up the same conversation and you could give a different response?

SilentWalrus923 karma

That's actually why I don't lie often because I never remember my lies

we_all_livin_america2 karma

Remember Sammy Jenkins?

SilentWalrus922 karma

Of course I do. And according to this polaroid I'm looking at, I killed John G.

Swagmomma2 karma

Do things get easier the more you do them to the point that you no longer have memory loss in regards to that one specific thing? For instance, going to school every day (or however many days you go). Once you've done it for a certain amount of days, is it easier? Great AMA btw!

SilentWalrus922 karma

Yes, that's why I hated having jobs where I don't have set hours. As a substitute I get up at the same time everyday and leave at the same time. Plus instructions are left by the teacher.

Kgquari2 karma

You answered almost everyone... Good AMA btw! What was your favorite part?

SilentWalrus922 karma

Probably how people instantly think of movies like Memento, 50 First Dates, and Finding Nemo and ask me if I'm like them. Anytime I see a movie about a person with memory loss I find them hilarious because they remind me so much of my life.

Juufro2 karma

  • Has it affected your schooling?
  • How have you managed your MCI while pursuing your teaching degree?

SilentWalrus922 karma

My schooling, yes. But in high school they offered to give me extra help and in college I apply for disability services. So I do get extra help if needed. But I've forgotten to do assignments and forgotten things that I study.

My career, not as much. As a sub I can write myself reminders to do things and about where to be. So. I haven't had any problems there. However once I become an actual teacher I'm sure kids will catch on and mess with me, like when I go to pick up an assignment they'll just act like I forgot to assign it. Lol but other then that I can't think of anything that would affect me as long as I set plenty of reminders.

MF_Kitten2 karma

How long does something need to stay "current" before you remember it? And when does it "reset" if you will? It seems it doesn't reset like mid-conversation or something like that, based on your answers here?

SilentWalrus922 karma

If I'm not concentrating really hard on remembering then I can forget instantly. But if, let's says, someone tells me their number. If I continuously repeat the number in my head until I write it down then no problems. But if I don't then by the time I find paper I couldn't write down that number to save my life.

Auggi3892 karma

Do you have a job? if so any difficulties come with this kind of mind problem?

SilentWalrus925 karma

I am currently working as a substitute teacher. I doesn't really require much memory. Once I sign up for a job I immediately write it down on a large white board I have hanging near my door to remind me where to go in the morning. But once I get there, no problems. I just follow the instructions left by the teacher.

JupiterIII3 karma

That's freaky. I apologize if comparing your situation to movies is hurtful, insensitive, or rude, but this reminded me of Memento. Where he has a big collection of papers that collects what he knows, you have a whiteboard to keep track of your life from day to day.

SilentWalrus925 karma

I love that movie. I'm nowhere as bad as him though. But I do use similar techniques as him for memorization (like writing stuff down). Without me creating daily reminders for myself to do things, I would never remember to do them. But don't worry about asking or saying something you think will offend me about my memory, I've dealt with it do long that it doesnt bother me anymore.

vwchevyrock2 karma

Can you/do you play video games without forgetting what you are supposed to do?

SilentWalrus922 karma

I love playing video games. But if I ever forget it usually tells you your mission when you pause the game. or you can talk to other characters to find out what you should be doing.

ARoguePumpkin2 karma

What is the hardest thing to deal with? School?

SilentWalrus923 karma

No, probably instructions. Unless I write them down, I can't remember lists over probably 3 items

ARoguePumpkin2 karma

I see. Is there anything else that comes with having this, or is it solely memory loss? For example, do you have significant trouble socializing with others, or trouble concentrating?

SilentWalrus923 karma

I am kind of awkward in social situations, but what redditor isn't?

Other than that no. Its only memory

ARoguePumpkin2 karma

Alright. Thanks for doing this AMA, it's really, really interesting!!

SilentWalrus922 karma

No problem! I'm glad people are interested.

trac542 karma

My boyfriends father has brain cancer (the rest is non operable) the cancer doesn't seem to be his hardest to live with. He suffers from seizures that keep damaging his memory.

He writes in a book everyday and reads it the next day. Have you done this? Have you had any seizures in relation to your surgery?

SilentWalrus924 karma

The doctors were actually extremely surprised I never had a seizure. They said that we must have caught the cancer early, just days before my first seizure.

Cleftin2 karma

Is your life anything like the movie, "memento"

SilentWalrus925 karma

No he has a form of amnesia. Kinda like that chick from 50 first dates. If I was going to compare myself to a movie character it would be Dory from finding Nemo

Tomulent2 karma

This is a great AMA! I really appreciate you making the effort.

My question is about how you relate to effort and work. Do you forget that you're working hard, and thus keep working hard? Or does the feeling of frustration and mental exhaustion persist regardless of the intellectual memory that you're doing work?

If this question is convoluted, I am sorry.

SilentWalrus923 karma

Actually it actually works to my advantage sometime because I can work for hours, but not remember how long I've been working. So it always feels like I'm making a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

bobzelfer65952 karma

What kind of memory loss is it specifically? Anterograde amnesia?

SilentWalrus923 karma


cheesycells2 karma

How much has your condition affected you in school? your academics/school life? Thank you for this AMA.

Edit: I forgot grammar.

SilentWalrus922 karma

Not much, My high school provided help and my college does the same, plus my professors have been very understanding. Without the help though I'd probably be failing.

notoriousstranger2 karma

My brother actually has a brain tumor now, what type of tumor did you have, and how bad is the memory loss?

SilentWalrus922 karma

I hope he's okay, I have a Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma. My memory loss is pretty mild. It could be A LOT worse.

notoriousstranger3 karma

I'm sure there is some technical word for his brain tumor but I'm not sure what it is. He has some pretty bad memory loss for example; If I say "we are going to the beach lets get in the car" then 30 seconds later I'll say "where are we going" and he will have no idea the I say "the beach" and then I say "how are we getting there", he will have no idea then ill tell him the car and ill say (30 seconds later) "why are we going to the car?" he then again has no idea.

Is your case this bad? and if it was this bad how did you get it to be any better?

SilentWalrus924 karma

I want to say no. I mean I have done things like that before, but it's not a daily thing. Some days my memory seems worse than others.

But really the only advise I have for your brother is to write down anything and everything he wants to remember. It helps tremendously

notoriousstranger2 karma

Thank you, I'm sure this will help

SilentWalrus923 karma

I have 2 whiteboards hanging in my house for reminders, paper and pens in my car, and I always have a pen on me to write things down. It really improves your day to day life. If he's not doing this already I highly reccomend it. Plus, just the simple act of writing things down improves memorization.

Twimpy2 karma


SilentWalrus922 karma

I have absolutely no idea.

Dantron942 karma

I guess it's hard to get annoyed if kids ask you the same questions multiple times in class or in this thread.

SilentWalrus926 karma

Especially since I probably won't realize it's being asked multiple times

Lexiphanic2 karma

When writing down instructions and reminders for yourself, do you ever srsly question yourself? Like "why the hell did I remind myself to do that?" or do you always follow Pre-forgot You to the letter? e.g "Well I'm sure I had a good reason!"

Have your friends/girlfriend ever forged notes/reminders to mess with you? If so, any fun examples?

SilentWalrus924 karma

I have left myself vague note before, like "Call John" and I'm like "About what!?!?"

Not that I know of, no.

drnuttbutter2 karma

Have you ever been driving somewhere and forgotten where you were going?

SilentWalrus923 karma

Yes. But luckily, since we live in a time with cell phones, I can always call someone to remind me where to go

jwally332 karma

What was it like going on that adventure with Marlin?

SilentWalrus9218 karma

I'm not sure. All I remember is some random address in Sydney, Australia