I'm a closet hypochondriac, avoiding going to the doctor in general, but worrying about most everything secretly and obsessively.
Like the time in Hawaii, I was around five, when I ate a peanut that had been inadvertently sprayed with Raid. For days I thought I was going to die a slow torturous death by poison; cried myself to sleep every night, thinking about how sad my parents would be, but I couldn't tell them I was dying because it would break their hearts. (What, me dramatic?) After about a week, I figured a miracle had occurred.
I was sick a lot when I was a child, possibly due to the fact that both my parents smoked like chimneys, (or that poisoned peanut); pneumonia numerous times, once causing a ten day stay in the hospital; bronchitis; the "bad" measles (temp of 105.5). I missed most of second grade due to illness.
Thanks to my father being a complete sucker for anything encyclopedic, we had a set of medical encyclopedias, which I read several times from cover to cover. My mother finally banned them from my sickbed reading list; she got tired of me coming in crying, "Mom, I think I have [insert some rare one-in-triple-gajillionmillion-chance-of-having-it disease here].
Bad enough I was home from school - again - without having to hear my fears that I might be a hemophiliac (missed the part that only boys can have that).
So when one such as myself has a parent with dementia, forgetting even little things takes on a whole new dimension of scariness. I do word searches, crosswords, play Nintendo DS games until I dream about Scrabble letters, trying to keep the five brain cells that are still functioning...well, functioning. Sometimes I forget how to spell "and", or "what", or I put the milk in the cabinet and the cereal in the frig (that's been happening for decades though, so probably nothing to worry about). Or just yesterday I thought the car might go somewhere without me putting the key in the ignition - could not figure out why I couldn't put it in gear.
When that happens, I immediately think, "well, it's started, the downward spiral."
Back in the nineties I was involved in a woman's self defense class. One of the exercises we did was meant to help desensitize women to words or phrases that tended to make them freeze in threatening situations. We'd stand in a circle, say the word or phrase, and just saying it took some of the power away. Get to my oh-so-funny friend Cindy R. and instead of the standard "bitch", "whore", etc., she says, "You're just like your mother." We all laughed until we cried.
You know, now it's not so funny.