Maths and number blindness

I’m not actually new to the forum but haven’t posted in a few years now and cannot for the life of me remember either my username or password, so new account to make a new post, browser told to remember the details so I don’t have to! I’m sure many of you can identify with memory issues. The one that’s really baking my noodle lately is my maths brain. Or lack thereof these days!

As a child I would come top of the class with maths. Then as my symptoms began to develop (I’ve had them since age 7) I got worse and worse at maths. By GCSE I’d gone from straight A’s to a C. By age 38 I can do only very basic calculations without a calculator or Excel to help me. Thankfully, I’m pretty good with Excel and have set up some fairly complex spread sheets to manage things like finances, but cannot for the life of me cope without a device for anything mathematical!

I’m a writer and love words and languages, always doing well with those and haven’t lost that mental faculty at all. However, bring numbers in and I cannot hold them in my head for more than three seconds! Instant goldfish . I do things like read a date and time for an appointment and between looking at the letter and looking at my calendar, I’ve got the wrong date. If there are 9s or 7s in a number, forget about me being able to add, subtract, multiply or divide it. I read 5 as 2, 6 as 9 and vice versa on both. Number blind! It’s like a dyslexia exclusively for numbers. And I never used to have it!

Different areas of the brain are responsible for language and maths, I know, and perhaps I have a legitimate reason after all to be absolutely pants at maths. But it’s embarrassing. I’m articulate, obviously not thick, but the looks I get when I can’t look at two items in a shop and calculate that £1.99 plus £1.99 comes to £3.98 (I almost decided £2.98 there, for example) and I only have £3.50 in my pocket, I want the ground to swallow me whole!

Does anyone else experience difficulties with one major cognitive faculty and not another? My MS is well underway and I’m heading into SP from R&R so I don’t have too many expectations of it recovering. But I can’t be the only one… can I?

I haven’t experienced this myself but did want to tell you an interesting story I heard at the weekend. One of my friend’s father had a stroke about three months ago. He has pretty much recovered from this physically but he on Sunday he described how he could no longer add up and he has a lot of trouble with understanding what time it it, whether he’s missed a train he’s waiting for and similar things. He was an accountant in his working life so this is all completely new since the stroke. I think he’s got damage to the ‘dealing with numbers’ bit of his brain - maybe you have the same?

I had a bit of trouble with the writing bit of my brain there - please excuse the typos!

hi, welcome back! my memory is a little bit foggy at times, especially when i’m tired. i’m hopeless at remembering passwords and so on. i used to write cryptic clues to work them out, but my success rate at understanding them got too bad, i now rely on my laptop to remember for me. it’s worse for you though, i didn’t have that far to slide in the first place, i was always fairly bad with maths, buy since a subarachnoid haemorrhage, i’m mostly horrible.

one of the odd after effects, is my capacity for remembering peoples names , i keep calling my daughter molly, which is my cat’s name. yup, you’ve gotta love that brain rot.


i can relate to everything you mention here about figures ( and more ) but it can only be as distressing as you allow it to be.

Many years ago by now I got to the stage where I felt at a loss about what to do about it so mentioned it to my MS Team. They in turn referred me to a Clinical Neurologist to be assessed. That in itself sounds awful but there’s no shame in it because it’s only another branch of my multidisciplinary team, and a means to tackle this issue.

After an afternoon’s testing e.g. Mental arithmetic, simple calculations and general memory testing, I and the doctor came up with a number of coping strategies which I must admit have worked well over the years. One simple example is that if someone phones unexpectedly wanting dates, phone numbers or figures off me then all I do is ask if I can get back to them later with the relevant info which I’ll have prepared on a notepad by then. Another when counting out money to hand over a counter is to hand some over and ask the cashier to check because e.g. you can’t see it clearly due to sunlight or not having your specs :wink:

Don’t be afraid to ask if this service is available to you because it’ll empower you and remove the distress which can add to the problem. The term which is used for this by the way was Dyscalculia ( sp?) and can be equally common in those without MS, even in children - and in some areas of the UK, schools have ways of teaching children according to the severity of it.

Hope that info wasn’t too much and is of help.


Thanks all :slight_smile: I think this mainly helps me clarify it probably is the MS and to hear some have trouble with words not numbers too is a big help. It mainly helps me chart my symptoms in this respect as far back as school. My first as I said was in fairly early childhood. It took 11 years to get my neurologist to admit that it has been happening for that long and my diagnosis at 27 far from caught it early! I’ve not responded very well to any medication so far but start Tecfidera on 21st “because I’m still at risk of relapse” which told me without telling me, Secondary Progressive est arrivez! I use my laptop for most things now - shopping, banking, all things numerical and pay on a card wherever possible outside to avoid embarrassment. What I need to learn now is to be unabashed and speak up instead of fumbling. I have MS and am not too clear with numbers anymore. Bear with me :slight_smile: