Today I confused two perfectly innocent words: 'novellist' and 'novice'. They are similar. They even share 5 of their letters. And they do sound quite similar.
However their meanings are quite different. Quite dissimilar in fact. They are really not to be confused at all.
And yet I confused them. I didn't actually confuse them in print or while talking to someone. I was just trying to use 'novice' and I couldn't for the life of me recall the word - 'novellist' was stuck in my brain and no amount of shoving could move it.
I had to ask for help and it was immediately to hand - thankfully - so I didn't have to puzzle over something I knew that I knew - but yet didn't know, or at least not for long.
This whole episode got me worrying and wondering. Worrying that I might be going senile and wondering about the linkages in my brain that seemingly do still work perfectly well, to a greater degree.
Senility does scare me. I have nursed the senile demented while working at Cornhill Hospital and, in the lowly position I occupied, the indignity and horror of losing one's mind was all too unpleasantly apparent. I loved working there. But it was not rewarding in the sense of making a difference. The basic work that I did, as the lowest level on the Nursing rung, kept the patients clean and fed and that's about it. Interaction was minimal, attempted though it was. The horror for me now, remembering those days, is in the sheer number of people afflicted and so disabled. The mind is not just the body's soul but the body's engine too. By losing it you lose who and what you are.
Research into this frightful disease is finding new causes and treatments all the time and there is hope for the near miss baby boomers like me. In another decade or two there might be real progress, just in the nick of time for yours truly.
Meantime, I'll have to practice my words. Maybe I should do some homework on a number of words a night - like they do (or did) in primary school to broaden vocabulary, or in my case, to attempt to preserve it.
I do hope I am not going senile. Although really to be pragmatic - I probably will. Meantime I'll keep taking the Ginko Biloba and Omega 3 and hope to keep it at bay until they discover how to prevent it for good!