On Wednesday, March 23, I went to a Neurological psychiatrist for a Neurological/psychological evaluation. This examination was looking at where my brain is regarding cognitive abilities. Like most people I am sure that while I have tendency to forget things, I am certain I don’t have dementia.
At my last appointment with the Neurologist, he said that it was time for me to be tested for dementia. He went on to say something about Lewy Body Dementia and that a certain percentage of Parkinson’s patients will develop Dementia.
I explained that my sister says, “If you misplace your car keys, that’s normal. If you cannot remember what the keys are for, you have a problem.” My Neurologist responded, “If you believe this saying is 100% true, all the time, you are setting yourself up for huge problems. “
He went on to explain that the purpose of the five-hour examination was to establish a baseline by which they would be able to tell if there are changes, good or bad, to my cognitive abilities. I agreed to the examination and was a date was scheduled.
The exam lasted for a little over four hours. The first three hours were quite easy, I had a lot of energy and remembered everything I was supposed to. Sadly, after that I ran out of gas, which is a strange thing that happens to people with Parkinson’s. If you’ve ever ran out of gas while driving a car you know how this feels. With Parkinson’s you’re humming along just fine and suddenly everything is shutting down: you’re exhausted, can’t think clearly, and the only thing you want to do is take a nap.
I had brought some snacks and something to drink. I quickly ate a couple of granola bars and drank some water. It didn’t help a bit. I called a time out for a bathroom break, which didn’t help either. I slogged through the last hour of the examination and noticed that my ability to remember things had disappeared.
Three different times we had gone over a list of about twenty-five words and every time she told me to remember the list because I would have to give them back to her. When the time came to recite the large list, I could only remember two or three words from a list that she couldn’t remember. She then read the list to me and would ask was this word in it?
The results of this exam have been sent to my Neurologist who I see on Monday, April 18. I will let you know what they have to say about my cognitive abilities after my appointment.
While waiting for the results of the exam I decided to pay attention to the way my mind does, and does not, work. While I am not sure I have dementia, my thoughts like to call me names, argue as if there are two people up there, and obsess over certain ideas.
For example, the other day I was reading a poem by Joyce Kilmer entitled, TREES. He writes, “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.”
Immediately my mind responded, “What the poet said is completely absurd, a poem is not to be seen but heard.”
This triggered an argument between I suppose the left and right side of my brain, which I decided to sit back and listen to.
“PLEEAASE!! Of all people you should know a metaphor when you hear one. Don’t you have a degree in English Literature?”
“Listen JERK O, I understand metaphors just fine. I’m saying it’s not a good one. I walk around and see trees everywhere, without a book I don’t see poems, and if I should happen upon a poet, he would not be painting a poem, he would be reciting it.”
“Maybe you need to shut up and allow your ears to hear, which just might open the eyes of your mind to see. “
“Alright! Let’s read the rest of the poem and let’s see where he’s going with the visible poem idea.”
“I think that I shall never see A poem as lovely as a tree.”
“That metaphor still isn’t working for me.”
“Just SHUT UP and listen!! Your grandpa Saylor would have called you an educated FOOL.”
“Yeah, right after he said something like, “That’s what you get for thinking.”
“Did you ever actually HEAR him say that? NO! Anyway, it sounds like something that has been taken out of context. He would have called you an educated fool because you are talking against this poem without taking the time to listen to what the poet is saying. You’re trying so hard to sound intelligent but since you don’t know what you’re talking about, you really sound like a damn fool!!!”
“Come ON!! Grandpa Saylor never would have said DAMN.”
“The Poet continues,,,“A tree whose hungry mouth is prest, Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.’
“Now there’s a metaphor I can get into, ‘Mouth pressed against sweet flowing breast’. Who wrote this, Hugh Heffner?”
“What is wrong with you? You hear the word Breast and turn this beautiful metaphor into something smutty. How old are you, Thirteen? When are you going to GROW UP and act like an adult? There is nothing wrong with the picture he is painting.”
“Well, it’s either a sexy picture or a line from the La leche League manual”
“Let’s make a deal. You don’t interrupt, don’t say a word, while I read the ENTIRE poem and when I am finished you can talk all day about what a stupid poem this is. Sound good to you?”
“Hey, I wasn’t stopping you. Read the entire poem and I won’t say a thing, not one word, I won’t clear my throat or pass gas or ANYTHING.”
“Okay, you ready?”
“Whenever you are.”
“I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray.
A tree that may in summer wear,
A nest of robins in her hair.
Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are written by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”.
“Well, do you think, now that you heard the entire poem?”
“The last stanza ties the entire poem together and demonstrates a real understanding of the contrast between creation and Creator. The metaphor of a poem as lovely as a tree makes sense once you see where he is going with it. He could have said, I think that I shall never see a ship as lovely as the sea, Or, I think that I shall never see a bus as lovely as a wind gust. Why he could contrast anything people make with any created thing and demonstrate that fools still think they can do better than the creator.”
“So, you’re ready to admit that your first impression was completely idiotic?”
“You know one thing I really don’t like about this?”
“I really liked my first idea and the little poem I wrote. “What the poet said is completely absurd, a poem is not to be seen but heard.” It made me feel cleaver and funny, until you pointed out how the whole idea really does hold together well and that makes me feel stupid.”
“Yeah. That happens a lot when I try to put someone else down.”
I’m sorry this is so long. Monday, April 18, I will see my Neurologist and will write about how the test went and anything else he might have to say.