Not So Scientific Results

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I am ashamed at the unscientific process that has been labeled as medicine and assigned as diagnostic care for me. I am aware that some amount of interpretation is necessary from a doctor when receiving tests results, but I was hopeful that it would be mostly numbers and a small bit interpretation instead of this skewed nearly useless information I have received. Sigh.

I completed 4 hours of a neuropsychological battery of tests, all norm referenced for my age and education. The results should be straightforward. I was expecting a readout similar to an SAT or these state tests my children are required to take each year. Nope. Instead I have a 4 page verbal letter from a doctor that met with me for 10 minutes before the test. She regurgitated exactly what I told her in that brief interview, incorporated notes from the psychometrist that proctored the testing, included some multiple choice questions from a survey they gave my husband that really did not describe me well at all, and then gave little attention to any actual test scores or what they might mean for different areas of my brain as I was hoping.

I was more than disgusted that during the pretesting interview, the doctor asked if I was disability payments. I said no – I want to get better. She said, oh, good to know, that will help me when I write up your results. What?? Like your results will change depending on what I ask you for, not on what the results actually are…ugh, no, not good.

I kept saying things like, “ugh, this hurts my head” and I meant that in a figurative or slang way that normal humans will say when presented with mental puzzles. It came back in my report that I had a severe headache during the exam. I had no actual head pain at the time. I guess I should not have said that but I thought the tech was also human, so oops for me skewing my results that way.

I asked a question about one portion of the test that I struggled with. It was the Benton Judgment of Line Orientation, where it is black and white lines in various angles and you have to match them to the correct angle. Here is an example.

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I got more wrong than right here and it was extremely difficult to focus on it. I asked her if she knew what it was testing or why it might be so difficult, or maybe it had anything to do with my migraine aura that often gets triggered with high contrast items, and she didn’t say much to me, but apparently she noted that I had aura that interfered with this test. I’m much more concerned there is something going on in this area of the brain. I did my own research and it seems that this is centered in the parietal lobe. I’m wondering why I have lost this ability and why they were so quick to not be concerned about it or blame it on a migraine that I did not have at that time.

My memory was intact, low average, but nothing that indicates dementia or neurodegenerative disease. I agree with this. I am not getting worse. My memory gaps are from the past, I seem to be able to slowly retain new info, just not at the rate I used to. Apparently I can do so in the low average rate for people of my age and education, which is frankly alarming to me, because I know I am impaired. But they don’t know where I starting. I struggled with digit span beyond 5 digits and the reversal of digits took me repeating it out loud first. Most alarming to me was the basic math set. I can no longer do arithmetic. For someone that used to do mental math like nothing, for someone that used to teach advanced algebra and calculus, it is alarming to me that I can no longer give an answer to a two step second grade level word problem. I know how to solve it, but the numbers swirl and disappear when I try to calculate anything. I still recall one problem. Johnny reads for 22 minutes each day Monday through Friday and reads an additional 15 minutes on Saturday. How many minutes does he read in total. I knew I had to multiply 22 by 5 and add 15 but I could not get there. I’ve been practicing my math facts again, I knew 25 x 4, so I was thinking it was over a 100 but that was as close as I could get. How sad. Apparently this was also not alarming to them. Hmmm.

So A few years ago I would have sped through and maxxed out this test, scoring high above average in each area. I always have.

They did indicate I have extremely slow processing, delays in thought, pauses in speech, possible cognitive dysfunction, possible depression, possible migraine statinous.

Recommendations are to take frequent breaks to prevent mental fatigue. Get plenty of rest and exercise. They also recommended I contact my state board for disabled persons to work with a counselor to help negotiate me an appropriate job.

This is a whole lot to process. The doctor went on vacation, but I do have some questions for her I think regarding the whole – I did not have a migraine during this exam thing. But I do appreciate the resource. Even though it will take me swallowing my pride, accepting my situation, maybe it is exactly what I need to get back out on there and start doing what I can do again. I can’t do what I used to do. I can’t get hired for the jobs I am applying for, I am overqualified, no one calls me. I think I will see what they can do for me.

I did end up with a migraine after the testing was done, from the stress and so many hours of overload and challenge and sitting in harsh lighting and whatever else. It wasn’t terrible though, and I was able to prevent it from exploding by taking gabapentin at onset like I usually do. So was aura actually starting earlier affecting my vision? Now I’m confused. I think I need to see my migraine specialist soon if I’m still being triggered this easily.

My neurons are too tired and freak out over the slightest provocation. Poor little neurons. It will be okay.

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