Take 20 words chosen at random. Put them in a bowl. Draw one and write something about it.
Simple? Maybe not.
Back in the day, I was inclined to use the phrase, “if memory serves,” which was a polite way to say “my memory is better than yours, so here’s what really happened.”
I no longer use that phrase for one reason. Memory no longer serves. I can’t even get memory to return my calls, much less produce what I need at a moment’s notice.
It’s a little disturbing. I chalk it up to age, but does that mean I’m on a fast track to Alzheimer’s? Not necessarily, from what I’ve read. Being unable to recall simple words or names every now and then is normal, some experts say, even among those relatively young, like 40-somethings. Still, that knowledge does not rule out developing a completely blank mind down the road.
I continued to fret until yesterday, when I saw a television commercial for Prevagen. This over-the-counter miracle medication, according to the manufacturer’s web site, can improve absentmindedness and memory, plus helps with “mild memory problems associated with aging.” Check, double-check and triple-check. My worries were over.
I read more. The magic ingredient in Prevagen is apoaequorin (say that three times fast, or even once), a protein that makes certain jelly fish (specifically, Aequorea victoria) glow.
Eh? Not to worry, the web site reassures potential Prevagen customers, “glowing is not a side-effect.” Hmm. That was a little disappointing. As side-effects go, that would have been a pretty neat one.
Anyway, among the other facts provided on the site, apoaequorin was discovered by a Nobel Prize winner, so you know it’s got to be good. Furthermore, vast numbers of jellyfish are not being killed to make Prevagen, as apoaequorin is “now grown in a safe and controlled manufacturing process.” The site proudly displays the “Made in the USA” flag logo.
Well, as promising as all of this sounded, I was still not convinced that swallowing jellyfish protein even the “extra-strength” version, every 24 hours for 30 to 90 days, was my path to memory salvation. The site notes that the benefits of Prevagen are backed by a 90-day study done by Quincy Bioscience, a Madison, Wisconsin, company which also happens to be the “official retailer” of Prevagen.
Hmm. Seemed like the results of that study might have something of a conflict of interest involved, so I decided to do a little investigating of my own. As luck would have it, several Aequorea victorias, including one I had met, Alfred, just happened to live in my neighborhood, so I dropped in on him for a little chat.
Keeping in mind that Al was under water, behind glass and English was not his first language, our conversation went something like this:
“Hi, Al,” I began. “Sorry to show up without calling ahead, but I’m doing a little research into Prevagen, and I thought you might be in unique position to give me some answers.”
Al glowed bashfully. “Excuse me,” he replied. “Have we met?”
“Sure. We talked sushi for a few minutes at the Fourth of July party here last month, remember?”
“No. Please forgive me, but my memory isn’t what is used to be. I’m already four months old. That’s 85 in human years. I get more absentminded every week.”
“But, aren’t you mostly made of the protein used in Prevagen to aid human memory. In fact, isn’t that the very thing that makes you glow?”
“I think that’s what somebody one said, but I’m not sure. The days all seem to run together. I can’t even say for sure what I ate for breakfast, although I’m told it’s the same, soft-bodied organisms every meal.”
“That really makes me question the value of your magic memory protein. Hello?”
Al seemed to be drifting aimlessly in his tank, apparently dozing until I rapped on the glass.
“Huh? Hi,” Al said with a waking snort. “Do I know you?”
“Yes, we’ve talked.”
“I take your word on that. Have we talked about anything interesting?”
“No, just sushi and memories.”
“Memories are nice. I wish I had some.”
Well, I guess I can cancel that order for a lifetime supply of Prevagen. For now, I’ll continue to rely on salmon, whole grains and Cheetos to keep me sharp.