A self-described lifelong walker, Terraine is always on the go. She exercises and prays every day, and makes cards for friends frequently. All rewarding in their own way, these activities do not exist without challenges.
Making cards has been a long-term hobby Terraine enjoys, but memory problems can also make it a stressful endeavor. Terraine has difficulty pairing colors, designing new images to mirror existing ones, and remembering where she placed her crafting materials.
When she was growing up, Terraine feared getting in trouble and upsetting her father. She says that whenever he asked her a question under those circumstances, “I would blank out…the fear gripped me so much I couldn’t tell [him the answer].” She wonders if her MCI diagnosis is related to this phenomenon as she says of the childhood experience: “This could trigger off a cognitive problem because all my life…if it’s something that [gives me fear], I just blank out. I always wonder just how much of it is, or if it is, cognitive, or if it’s something that’s trained. I’m a firm believer [that if] you do something long enough, it becomes part of your DNA.”
Terraine cites the social stigma associated with MCI as the most difficult part of living with the condition. She does not want to be taken as weak or incompetent, and it can frustrating when others view her as such. She becomes aggravated when others act like she is using the diagnosis out of convenience or when they use it as a scapegoat for things that go wrong. She says, “I don’t know any MCI person wearing a sign, stating they have MCI when they are dealing with society and the system, to get special treatment. For me, having MCI doesn’t bother me so much as how people will use this condition against you.”
Due in part to this frustration, Terraine does many tasks on her own. She is the sole caregiver for her older brother, Donald, who is bedridden with muscular dystrophy. She feels that “MCI, and the problems, challenges, and labeling, is stressful enough,” and the full-time caregiving responsibility creates an additional strain.
However, caregiving is one area where her memory remains reliably strong. Terraine has not once forgotten about Donald when caring for him. She says, “I do forget some things, but I don’t forget when it comes to him.”