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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Psyching Out the Neuro-Psychologist

The day of my Neuropsychology exam started at 4 am, since we had to drive 219 miles to Tucson, Arizona for my appointment. We could have gone the day before and stayed in a hotel, but I figured I'd sleep better in my own bed and since I'm usually up by 4:30 or 5, it wouldn't make much difference. I was wrong; I didn't sleep well at all.

The drive over was fairly easy, there's not much between here and Tucson except cactus and jackrabbits, and the rabbits were all sleeping. I did see some interesting signs on the way. The first one read, "Solar is the Answer," then there was, "Christ is the Answer" and finally, "Jesus is the Answer." Right then, I knew I had three possible answers to whatever questions the tester might ask.

We arrived a few minutes early and soon Karin (the Neuropsychologist) called both of us back to her office. The first part of the exam was an interview. I answered all of her questions and my Wonderful Husband bragged to her about my Parkinson's advocacy, this blog, my book and how I'd done a TV interview the afternoon before. I wore my "What's Shaking? Just Me!" t-shirt just for fun and Karin noticed it, so I was pretty sure I passed the "no signs of depression" part of the test. 

My Wonderful Husband was sent out to the lobby and the real testing began. She told me she was going to say three words and I was to repeat them back to her and try to remember them because she would ask me to say them again later. When she said the three words, which I won't repeat here, I smiled because I immediately thought of my good Parkie buddy Jim and his wife Penny.

After the three words, we did all kinds of memory tests. I drew my renditions of geometric shapes she'd shown me. I repeated numbers, forwards and backwards. I answered questions and tried to repeat back stories. I did well with the numbers in the stories, but not so well with the names, which didn't surprise me one bit. I warned her I was good with numbers and terrible with names. I did math problems and connect-the-dot games. 
shape drawings

Then it came time for the dexterity tests, the dreaded pegs-in-holes. I did terrible with my right hand and not much better with my left. No surprise with this outcome, I actually did better than I thought I would. Sometimes, I can't even pick up a fork right-handed, much less a tooth-pick sized peg.

We took a break for lunch, then two more hours of testing and we were done. She said I had an amazing memory and she didn't see any reason why I couldn't proceed with the DBS surgery. She asked me not to detail every single test, verbatim, in this story. I promised I would not and we left.

My Wonderful Husband and I headed back to Yuma, 219 miles away. All the way home, and most of the evening, I kept trying to remember the three words on a list of fifteen that I missed. Karin kept repeating these fifteen words over and over and I would say them back and only come up with twelve. It was driving me crazy.

When I walked with my neighbor Freida the next morning, I was telling her about the tests and how I kept missing three words. She asked me to say all the words to her, so I did. When I was done, she laughed. She said, "You just named off sixteen words, not twelve." Karin was saying sixteen words, not fifteen, and I was repeating ALL of them, not twelve. Apparently, I can't count and talk at the same time. Gee, I hope Karin doesn't read this and change my score.

By the way, I didn't get to use Solar, Christ or Jesus as answers to any of the questions Karin asked.

Clicking on the colored words will open a new window and take you to a different story or link.


  1. I want your T-shirt! And, I think you should write a HOW-TO pamphlet on “Parkinson's for Dummies". The very first chapter is: WHAT "WONDERFUL" MEANS. (Husbands or wives)