Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Potato. Table. Green.

Potato. Table. Green.

Remember those words (there’s a quiz later!).

The countdown is over! Robert saw his fabulous neurologist with the awesome Canadian accent today and the results are in (although so are a lot more questions).

The MRI showed no stroke (yay!!) and actually indicated no change whatsoever since his MRI of two years ago (there goes my medical career). The “large area of encephalomalacia” that sounded so concerning was due to his brain surgeries of several years ago so wasn’t anything new.


So am I nuts for thinking Robert has declined? (For those who do think I am nuts, sorry to disappoint you but this isn’t your proof). Lady Neuro notices the change, too, when Robert can’t walk across the room to get to the examination table without a great deal of assistance. She puts Robert through a battery of physical and mental tests with me hovering, ready to jump out of my skin to help (but somehow restraining myself).

I’ve moved from Helicopter Parent to Helicopter Sister.

Lady Neuro instructs Robert to pretend to hammer a nail, saw some wood, brush his teeth and salute. From the results, I think he can build me a bookcase with clean teeth but won’t be able to salute a young soldier who happens by.

Next come the memory questions making me wish I had thought to make Robert study beforehand! He answers the best he can, thinking a very long time before answering and asking if he got the question right or wrong. He knows the day of the week but is off by a few days on the date. He thinks it is 2010 (which must have been a good year for him), thinks Bush is president (yikes! nightmare relived! Oops, this isn’t a political post, is it?), and says he lives in Tahoe. (Maybe he thought she asked where he wished he lived since it’s 103 outside right now).

He can’t remember what country he lives in. I wince at this but catch myself, hoping he didn’t see me. These are questions he probably could have answered correctly a year ago and definitely could have two years ago.

I’m tapping the floor by this time wanting to know what exactly Lady Neuro thinks is going on and what we can do about it. She’s asking him to remember the three words she gave him at the beginning of the memory test while I silently recall them after a brief panic that surely I forgot them.

Quiz time: what are the three words I gave at the top of the post (and don’t look back at them!)?

Robert can only say two words which are actually sort of related to the words he was supposed to remember. I think this should count for something.

Lady Neuro cannot give me a definitive answer just yet. She orders an EEG which will tell us if there’s any difference from his last EEG and will also tell us if he is having mini-seizures in his brain which are not outwardly manifesting themselves. She is also sending us to a memory specialist who will conduct more extensive memory testing. Fortunately, Robert had a memory test several years ago so we will have a baseline to compare it to.

Lady Neuro is reluctant to speculate but I can be very persistent (but in such a nice way, right Hubby?). She allows the decline could be a cumulative result of years of uncontrolled seizures, medications, surgeries, infections and falls or the change could be a result of something new such as early onset dementia (or something related to that). Management of these symptoms will depend upon the tests (which should be within the next few months).

At lunch after the appointment, Robert enjoys his cheeseburger, counting how many bites it takes him to finish. I ask him if he has any questions about the appointment and, after thinking about it for a minute, simply says “no” and starts working on his fries.

(Robert is a great example of enjoying the moment especially if food is involved!).

Although I’ve been doing so these last few posts, I’ll take a lesson from Robert and refuse to continue to fret about the future. We will handle whatever is thrown our way and if that means dealing with more seizures than we thought or managing early onset dementia, then that’s what we’ll do. Bring it on!

Now, excuse me while I do some brain exercises . . .

Potato. Table. Green. Potato. Table. Green. Potato. Table. Green. Potato. Table. Green.


Heidi Alberti & Atticus Uncensored said...

No stroke -- great news!! Living in the moment -- even better!

Your resiliency and humor is unsurpassed, Trish -- kudos to you! and to Robert for imparting such importing life lessons.

I know where my mind goes politically, so I especially loved your bit about Bush still being president --- lol!!

Heidi & Atticus
"commentary to give you paws..."

Franziska San Pedro said...

Hi Trish,

I am very impressed by you and your brother!
If you worry too much about what will be and start counting days you will miss the most beautiful moments together. And I am so happy you will do exactly that, enjoy the time that you have. You never know and it's good to not know.

Your sense of humor is fabulous, love the way you see the world,

Franziska San Pedro
The Abstract Impressionist Artress

Joan Oliver Emmer said...

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age, my best friend told me that she feared I would compromise the quality of the rest of my life by worrying about recurrence. She was right, of course, and I've become (somewhat) better at living in the moment. That's what I wish for you too, Trish, and it sounds as though you are already way ahead of me. I am grateful for the relatively good news you received at the doctors.

Judy Stone-Goldman said...

This has to be at least some good news--no stroke and no change on MRI! Whew! But I do understand the riddle hasn't been solved, and no, you are not crazy for thinking you see changes. These darn tests don't always reflect function. Hope you get more information soon.

I had to have a cognitive test including memory when I went for long-term care insurance because I had had cancer (and so wasn't the perfect candidate risk wise). I remember how anxiety producing it was to have to remember words (I think I had 5 of them!) But I got your three words right!

Again, Trish, a beautiful post in which your love and devotion shine through. And your sense of humor is a gift!

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer
"Word maven loves--and learns from--ordinarily life."

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Heidi, I couldn't resist a little snark directed at our former prez. :-) I appreciate your support yesterday -- I could feel all the positive energy coming our way!


Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thank you, Franziska. You are so right that "you never know and it's good to not know." So true. Life is so short -- why spend it worrying? (Although I usually need lots of reminders about that!). :-)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

It's natural to worry, Joan (at least it is for me & completely understandable in your past situation). I so enjoy your hiliarious take on the world and appreciate learning more about you. Thank you for sharing your story with me. We all have something, why not be in it together!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thank you, Judy, for sharing your story too. I don't know if I could remember 5 words! Goodness, that's a lot of pressure. :-)