How many of our brain cells are dying?

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by JerryKnight

My mother called me early this morning.

I knew she was agitated because she said my name three times in a row.

After pleading with her to calm down, I asked her what was wrong.

She replied, “Do you know that once a person reaches the age of thirty five, they start losing 100,000 brain cells a day? Given I’m a couple of years past seventy, I must be losing 200,000!”

“Mom, you’re not losing that many brain cells. You read all the time, chat with the neighbors, and do Sudoku.”

“Something tells me that’s not enough. And you should be worried too. You’re way past thirty five and that places you in the 100, 000 brain cell loss group!”

“I attempt to do crossword puzzles, commit to learning new vocabulary words, and talk with the plants. Trust me, I give my brain cells a daily work out.”

“Nonsense. Two of your aunts suffer from dementia and I’ve seen you unravel when something goes wrong. Start buying puzzles; the ones that have 1000 pieces.”

It took me twenty more minutes to reassure my mother that no, it was not time to consult a neurologist (unless he looks like Mc Dreamy, then I’m all for it).

Nevertheless, today I put into effect the “keep my brain healthy” plan.

What did this entail?

For starters, I forced myself to use my left hand to do everything, even though I’m right-handed.

What does it matter that I’m sporting toothpaste dribble on the front of my shirt and that the sleeve of my sweater caught fire?

The important thing is I brushed and lit the gas stove like a natural born lefty.

I also finished a crossword puzzle.

What does it matter that I squeezed more than one letter into those ridiculous tiny boxes and made up words as I went along?

What really counts is that I can finally say I finished the damn thing.

I also counted backwards from 1,000 while I walked Roxy.

Does it really matter that I jumped from 800 to 400 and finished the remaining numbers counting ten by ten?

Of course not.

A completed task, well done or not, is still a task completed.

I also randomly opened the dictionary to learn new words.

Thanks to this exercise, I now know the meaning of cockalorum, gazump, vomitory, ranivorous, and gongoozle.

Never you mind that I’m still working on how to weave them into a conversation.

Without a doubt, these efforts are evidence of the lengths I’ll go to preserve my brain cells; which is ironic, given I don’t do much to preserve the rest of my body.

The way I see it, I can live with an ass that will give that Kardashian woman a run for her money, but to live without brain cells?

No can do.

This brings to mind something I read the other day.

It was a Huffington Post article by Lisa Bloom claiming that, “Twenty-three percent of American women would rather lose their ability to read than their figures.”

And that, my friends, is truly tragic.

I can’t imagine a life where I couldn’t empower myself through learning; where I wouldn’t be able to understand the printed word; or one where my cerebral cortex would no longer be able to make folds.

I go into spasmodic shudders at the thought.

This evening, I called my mother to report my progress.

“Mom, I’m wearing a toothpaste dribbled shirt with a sweater that has a singed off sleeve.”

She said, “That’s nothing. My night robe is full of spaghetti stains and I applied permanent hair dye to half my forehead.”

“No worries, mom. Think of it this way, we managed to save 100,000 brain cells today.”

“What’s our plan for tomorrow, Bella?”

“How about coming up with ways to remove the dye from your forehead?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Something tells me that thinking of ways to save our brain cells will be an exercise in itself.

What do you do to keep your brain cells healthy?


38 thoughts on “How many of our brain cells are dying?

  1. Oh god it’s like backwards day! I like to think I’ll keep my mental facilities sharp as I age. Also, for other heath reasons, my doctor has me on an insane dose of insanely pure liquid fish oil. Eventually I’ll just start seeing the future instead of losing my memory.

    1. It’s funny you mention the fish oil, cause my mom bought me a bottle back in summer and insisted I take it. Sadly, I haven’t gotten around to doing that. However, now thanks to your reminder, I shall! :)

  2. Hahahah! This is an awesome post! I love how you jump into life and really live it. I wish we could go out for a glass of wine. I think we’d laugh our butts off. Did I already say that to you?
    I’m losing my brain cells, too!

    1. Jodi, even if you’ve already said it, which I don’t think you have, it’s still great to hear many times more! We would have such a great time! And did I mention wine always make it an even better time? hee hee! You are so not losing your brain cells, lady! You’re sharp as a whip! Hugs for you! :)

  3. I think I’ll be able to handle most anything as long as I can still read. I can’t imagine life without a good book. Reading is probably the best brain exercise, don’t you think? Otherwise, to keep my brain and everything else healthy, I dance. The exercise increases circulation (good for brain cells) and trying to remember the combinations is great for my memory. Most classes I laugh at myself, too. Is humor good for the brain?

    1. Shary, in my humble opinion, good humor is good for everything! Reading is one of the best brain exercises as is any physical exercise, including dance, which like you mention, serves to activate good circulation. In reading, exercising and laughing, methinks you’re on to a good start, friend! :)

  4. I read and write, do puzzles, and try to learn something new every day. Oh, and I try to laugh — a good, long laugh makes everything better! With so many interesting, funny blogs (like yours, Sistah!) on the Interwebs, that laughing part is easy.

    1. Debbie, I am tickled pink to be considered a humorous read, sister! Thank you for your kind words. I think one of the best things is what you already do and that is to try to learn new things. They say learning a foreign language is also very good. Hmm…perhaps this is something we should try! :)

  5. I vacuum with my left arm :-) That helps build the muscle but not sure about brain cells :-) I read, do Sudoku, but I can’t do a crossword puzzle to save my life. Alzheimers is in my family so my mom and her two sisters all do things like what you are talking about ,and they take whatever vitamin and mineral supplements they read about, that supposedly help the brain.

    I might rather have my figure too….. !!! Yes, I want to have a rockin’ body at age 80!


    1. Michael Ann, between you and me, I hate crossword puzzles. I don’t have the patience or the smarts to finish one. There, I’ve said it. No shame! hee hee! I have also heard that some vitamin and mineral supplements help with memory loss. My mother is taking ginko biloba. I don’t know how effective it might be but as long as it’s not harmful, I believe it’s okay. I do take Omega 3 and I find that helps for so many other things. I’ve given up on the idea of having a rockin’ body at age 80. That ship has sailed so I’m keeping the brain cells! hee hee! :)

  6. —-“Twenty-three percent of American women would rather lose their ability to read than their figures.”—

    All I can say is that these 23% of woman are complete and utter dumb asses already!

    Um, what do I do to keep brain cells? Write. Read. & then, Drink Red Wine.

    Xx Kissssssss. Looooove.

    1. bwhahaha! Oh Kim, you always make me laugh! Hey, red wine is super healthy! I’m adding it to my list! I know my mom drinks it to keep her ticker healthy! You’re on the right track, Ms. Kim! Hugs and kisses to you! :)

  7. I can’t remember when I laughed so hard as just now, reading this post. Now I know where you get your sense of humor–your mother! She’s hysterical. I love her line about permanent dye on her forehead. Dios, mio! And as for the 23%? I could say I’m among them, but I don’t think I ever had a “figure” to lose. Oh, goodness. What do I do to save my brain cells? Write and play Words with Friends. Plus, my work keeps me challenged and thinking. Thanks for a really funny and fun post. Abrazos para tu mamá!

    1. Monica, my sister sent me a photo from her iPhone and you should see my mom’s forehead! To make things worse, the hair coloring was too dark and now she’s just hysterical at the thought that there’s no way to lighten it! In the meantime, we came up with astringent for the forehead situation. Ay Dios mio! My mom is a hoot. Most of the time, she’s funny without even trying. Abrazos de mi mami para ti, amiga! Thanks for your kind words. You have no idea how they serve to encourage me! :)

  8. What a great post! Having just turned in my final project for the semester (woo!) I’m going to preserve brain cells (and my fingernails) by taking a break. Learning is awesome, but to much of a good thing can go awry.

    1. Oh my goodness, Rachel, I hear you. The Son has been preparing for finals and I’m the one chewing on the fingernails! I’m down to the cuticle! You’re right–we do have to take a step back and take a breather. Buddha’s teachings come to mind–“Everything in moderation.” Congratulations of finally turning in your last project! Woot woot! :)

  9. Hilarious post Bella! I am always asking my mom and dad if they have done their crossword puzzles or read a book lately. But apparently I’m about six months away from needing to nurture my own brain cells! I think I would choose my brain cells over my figure, but I can’t honestly say that was the “obvious” choice :) Thanks for giving me something to think about — that in and of itself is helping those cells!

    1. Caryn, I’m so glad I could be of service! And I’m glad you’re still ways to go before this starts robbing you of your sleep. Live it up while you can, sister! I’m delighted you liked the post! :)

  10. Okay, I’m looking up loocockalorum, gazump, vomitory, ranivorous, and gongoozleking. Kudos to you for even being able to write them! That took at least 100,000 brain cells!

  11. wow, that statistic is horrifying! I get bored really easily, so I constantly have to change up what I’m doing to keep me sane. Does that count, Bella? I also like playing puzzle and word games (like, to death) so that should do me some good :)

    1. Laura, darlin’, you have decades to go before you have to worry about being forgetful! You lucky girl, you! I’m glad you “change up” your routine. That in itself is a brain exercise! Good for you! :)

  12. Bella, this is SO hilarious! I don’t think you’re in ANY danger of losing brain cells–writing your funny posts has to be hugely brain stimulating. I am learning Italian to stimulate my aging brain–I can literally feel those synapses firing (misfiring, backfiring, whatever) every time I open my mouth.

    1. Jann, I am delighted in your confidence in me! Thank you! I have been trying to refresh my rusty college Italian for years. Maybe this year I will take it seriously. That said, in your case, indeed it’s a wonderful opportunity to get the synapses going–and it doesn’t matter in which way that goes, as long as it goes! hee hee! :)

  13. Great post, Bella! I’m right there with you in those slice-and-dice brain cell years. The other day I was in my stepdaughter’s new car and said, “Where do they hide the body bags in this thing?” She looked at me like I was nuts. It’s happening more and more…I think I’m making perfect sense…never mind that the word that should have left my lips was airbag. At least I got the bag part right!

    Pretty pathetic that women would rather keep their figures than their ability to read. Wonder why the world is in this kind of shape!

    It sounds like your mom and you have a great relationship. By the way, I’m hen-peck typing this with my left hand!

    1. Annie, I’m thrilled you “hen-picked” your message to me! hee hee! I laughed out loud with your body bag comment. Hey, if it’s any consolation, you were close! My mom and I, fortunately, have a wonderful relationship. She always says that out her three daughters, I’m the only one she can live with. Prove of that is how we spend two months in the summer together every year. Thankfully, we’re very close. I don’t think you and I should worry too much even if we’re in the “at risk” category. Something tells me we do enough brain stimulating activity on a day-to-day basis! :)

  14. Bella, honey… It’s flurrying on your blog!!! :-) I love that!! :-)

    This post made me laugh out loud – until I got to the part about the percentage of American women who would rather lose their ability to read than their figure; that was just disturbing.

    Anyway, as much as I was entertained by your post, it has also stirred some thought as to how I keep my brain healthy. Thankfully, my brain does get a really good workout on a daily basis… but that doesn’t mean I won’t try my hand at the left-hand-only application of hair color and nail polish this week. :-) xoxo

    1. Hot Coco, just keep a steady hand as you apply the hair color! My mom didn’t, and that’s how she ended up with half her forehead painted black! hee hee! I’m delighted you liked the post! Aren’t those stats disturbing? What has the world come to? Really? I love the snow WordPress shells out during winter. It makes the blog more festive, don’t you agree? :)

  15. I just can’t believe that women prefer to take back centuries of progress by not being able to understand the printed word and in term not being able to understand the entire world!
    How can one prefer to be illiterate in a world full of information, to loose their ability to acquired and pass on knowledge to their kids in order to be like stick cartoon figure or a bubble head from a sport team.
    Well, not for me or my daughters; let me have my extra pounds while I continue reading my books, comic books, magazines, etc…. and just like you expanding my horizons and increasing my brains cells!

    1. Sing it, sister! I knew you too would understand, dear Ofelia. Sadly, many young women would prefer to hang on to their figures than read. I tell you, it’s a human tragedy. Fortunately, there’s still a few good women who realize what should really take precedence. Keep working out those brain cells, amiga! :)

  16. This post made me smile. I’m 30 and I sometimes can’t finish a sentence spoken aloud to a mystified sister/friend who’re waiting for me to close up that thought (and that’s when I worry about dementia and all). I’d go for healthier food, great long walks in a park of beautiful trees, and watching shows & reading books that rejuvenate the brain cells once in a while. (I think reality TV shows might not be quite as mentally stimulating as I would hope for. Spicy stuff there, though.)

    1. Claudine, you made me chuckle with the reality tv shows comment. Would you believe I never watch them? I don’t think you have anything to worry about when you forget certain things. My doctor told me that when this happens, it’s usually induced by stress. And God knows how much of that we’re subjected to on a daily basis. I say, keep doing what you’re doing to stimulate your mind! :)

  17. Honey, I loved this post. It’s like looking in the mirror. Dementia runs hot-n-heavy in my family, so I find myself watching my mother with an eagle eye and then freaking out anytime I forget something. I read constantly and am trying to puzzle out novel-writing, learning all I can. But I realized something. If I go crazy, not my problem!!! JP gets to clean the mess. I can happily fold baloney into the silverware drawer and go back to reading Curious George. =)

    1. bwhahaha! Lori, trust you to always, and I mean always, find the humor in every circumstance! Good for you, sister! Two of my aunts suffer from dementia and my mom is forever worrying if she forgets something or misplaces her personal belongings. She calls me often to ask, “Do you think it’s happening to me? Will I be just like your aunts?” She really does work herself into a frenzy. Nevertheless, what’s going to happen, is going to happen. We can only try to maintain our brain cells through learning and staying active. If not, pass the Curious George! hee hee! :)

  18. Bella,

    I am still sitting in my bathrobe, starving and crazed that I missed a key event in Philly because somehow I lost a day this week. Yes, indeed. Am I exhausted? Crazed with Xmas pressure? Or, just giving in to brain cell loss? LOL.

    Hopefully, none of the above. We will call it an aberration. I read voraciously and writing keeps me fluffy. I have even been gaga enough to learn a new profession after 22 years so I am confident, as yet, that I am up to snuff ;)


    1. Coco, you are brilliant! If you ask me, you’re never going to lose your mojo, woman! And how in the hell did you lose a day of the week? Now this I gotsa to hear! :)

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