Sunday, August 12, 2007

mental status exam

What an ordeal. Eight hours of testing, of picture stories, verbal stories, word pairs, numerical recall, shapes, what's missing, what shouldn't be here and on and on and on. My head hurt after the first four hours. Another four hours later I was wiped out.

My tester was an older woman, a retired school teacher who'd had to go back to work when her husband lost his job. She was very teacher-ish but also kind and charming. We had fun together and she enjoyed spending a day with me as a different experience from her usual assignments of profoundly mentally ill individuals.

Sample question for you. Joyce said "I am going to read you a string of numbers and letters. I want you to put them in order, A, B, C, and in numerical order, 1, 2, 3." I would nod my understanding and say okay, and then here comes the string:

9, W, 3, H, 5, C, 1, M, 4, T

I was supposed to say "1 3 4 5 9 C H M T W."

The initial questions were always easy enough to lend a false sense of security. And then would come the questions which simply made my head hurt. It was very odd, because the strings of unrelated words and digits always increased in number. I would do fine up to a certain point, say 8 or 9 digits, and then would come the extra and that would be the end. It wasn't even that I could not remember the last digit or letter or word, but that the addition of that last one made all of the others vanish as well. Kind of like my brain said "you've got to be kidding me" and shut down.

I expect that's normal, not a sign of looming dementedness, but it's interesting and wonderful to pay such direct attention to how my own brain works in my head in response to this kind of testing. It gave me an odd sense of my brain as a separate thing, efficiently working inside of my skull like a computer humming busily in the next room while I lounge on the sofa reading.

I don't know how I did. I do know I can no longer do long division with the little V-bar thingie like I learned in 3d grade. I can do it with up to two decimals, but dividing 67.364 by 33.72? Not a chance. My algebraic skills, too, have vanished, the little bit I had. If the square root of 7ax is 6, I know in some magical world, 7ax = 36, but I don't know what the hell "a" is and I never will.

The only spelling question I missed was boutonnierre (I stuck a u before the first n) and I could kick myself, because I know how to spell it. She did say I was her first person ever to spell mnemonic correctly. Yay! A star from my teacher. Hoping my brain will get an all clear and a star too. Off to Dallas. 'Bye.

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Blogger Doralong said...

A gold star and an all clear for sure!! I keep fearing dementia these days myself, my doctor says it's the menopausal fuzzies ;) I guess in a perverse way I was happy to know there was a reason my IQ has dropped 10 points.. but having to make notes for my blank little brain is getting right old I tell ya.

But all kidding aside, I know getting the official all clear will be a great relief to you!

August 12, 2007 12:52 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

Once I got past 40, if I don't write it down, I forget it. On the other hand, I can remember all sorts of useless shit! I think your brain fills up and everything else just flows off the top!

I am sure you'll get a good report back. Of course, as far as I know alzheimer's is not something I have to worry about. Only one member of our family ever suffered from it, and that was caused by long exposure to chemicals in the factory job he had.

Why Dallas? You'll have to spill on that one honey, we're nosy.

August 12, 2007 3:14 PM  
Blogger don said...

Oh you are doing just fine hon. Unlike the clerk at the swimming pool this week. Admission was $3.30, I gave her a $5 bill and she had to use her calculator to figure out the change.
The kids of today are our future. Right? Yah, everything will be just fine.

August 12, 2007 6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DOGS will be FINE and poop regularly as they tend to do. so have FUN as much as you can while in Texas, but I suppose coming from Oklahoma, that may be a good place to have fun (in the one or two towns that it's allowed). Booteneare? I wouldn't have put two "N's" in it... Mnemoic's ALWAYS a good one. Sorry to report, you're headed toward years that I've already faced, and things aren't always headed in the right direction, but the slow march to that final goodbye hopefully involve YEARS of rich experience. So don't fade into black about being unable to divide fractions! I bought a $8 calculator for that. Now. Back to the squirrel war.

August 12, 2007 6:57 PM  
Blogger tankmontreal said...

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August 12, 2007 10:03 PM  
Blogger tankmontreal said...

What was our Big Ass Belle doing taking a mental status exam? Testing for 'looming dementedness'? And the jury's still out on your impending insanity? Okay.
That said, the number- and letter-ordering question stumped me. I'm not good with puzzles, even the simplest ones.
However, a prominent photograph on my parents' mantel is the mnemonic device I use to recall the lovely boutonniere presented to me by Donna Thomson on graduation night.

We both left out the 'accent grave' over the first 'e' in boutonierre, but that was a keyboard issue, right?

August 12, 2007 10:05 PM  
Blogger Da Nator said...

Yeah, I feel left behind here, and not in the born-again sense. Were you taking this test to check if you had early signs of dementia? Did I miss an earlier post about this?

Most importantly, what is ax, anyway?

August 13, 2007 3:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sweetie, is this test and it's results going to be used as a baseline for future testing? I am assuming it is, knowing that it's the only way to measure if there has been any loss of function. I am curious to know, as I will probably be doing the same thing within the next five years. I will look the simpleton, I just know it. So much useless bits of flotsam and jetsam, and not enough coherent function between these ears...

August 13, 2007 4:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See what I mean? Now I'm typing Tatet instead of Tater. Has a ring to it though.

August 13, 2007 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well YES, tatet, it does :-) tatet tatet tatet. cute. do you really? still have the boutonierre? and of course i couldn't make that little french symbol thingie.

miss nator ~ looming dementedness in my future; this is to see whether i have some kind of early onset brain dysfunction, the primary symptoms of which are that i can't remember a motherfucking thing and that my previously perfect ~ perfect i tell you! ~ typing has drastically deteriorated. i leave off endings of words; i substitute one word for another; i no longer feel my errors as i have for 35 years; i leave out whole words. it's very disconcerting and of my various symptoms, that's the one that causes the neuro people to raise eyebrows. sigh.

mark! calculators!! of course! i couldn't remember what they were called ;-)

don, as a merchant of sorts, i have little trouble figuring out $$, adding and subtracting. it's those fucking decimals that kill me. and then, of course, algebra, blood sport for teachers.

tony ~ my delivery guy has had his truck out forever; i had customers in oKC and dallas who paid him (now me) a tidy sum to deliver their treasures, but the most important thing is that gives me a chance to hit an antique auction i've been lusting for almost 4 years now . . .

DL ~ menopausal fuzzies. i've thought of that, docs too. but damn, 10 IQ points?? i don't want to lose anything :(

August 13, 2007 9:39 AM  
Blogger eric3000 said...

I'm sure if I took this test they would wonder if I were brain dead. I cannot remember more than two numbers at a time and I can't even spell the word "and" unless I write it down. My brain just does not work that way. I have to see everything.

August 13, 2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger tomvancouver said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 13, 2007 1:17 PM  
Blogger tomvancouver said...

I've gone through so many psychological tests and eventually, after an hour or so, just answer Supercalifragilisticexpealadocious and hope they give me stronger medication

August 13, 2007 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynette, give me a call. I am in San Diego today, and in Dallas for the rest of this week.

August 14, 2007 12:33 AM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

So she was reading these off to you? Gracious, I'd have flunked, and that's got nothing to do with any dementia. I am such a visual person -- I don't do well with straight auditory stuff, which is too bad, because apparently I have great hearing. Seriously though, seems they should take that into consideration. Some people are strong visual learners and use visual cues. And I'd probably max out the spelling test and flunk the math part. How do they tell what's just individual learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, and what has more meaning as far as these tests?

August 14, 2007 4:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we have an update on your precious Pup, please?

August 14, 2007 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So were the bloody hell are ya?" (Australian expression!!)
Gee...that Dallas trip has taken some time....we miss you!!


August 14, 2007 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They would have SO put me in a hospital with dementia after me trying to do those problems.


August 15, 2007 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LL ~ "stronger medication" ~ haha!!! :-)

tedbear ~ good grief, are you there now????? i think it is truly the asshole of america. what a godawful horrible place!! the traffic was hideous, the worst of anywhere i've been. 105 degrees. honey, get away, quickly. why was i thinking you were in austin???

MC ~ yeah, i'm not very auditory either. in college, i just let the words flow through me into my notes ~ no comprehension ~ and i had to read later to get it.

taten tatet tater ~ pup is well! just back from the sitter, frisky as all get out. no more nasty poop. just read "three dogs bakery cookbook" so i can bake some healthy treats for my little angels :-) thanks for asking.

BJ!! i left you a note the other day on another post, but think it was one you wouldn't have seen, so how the hell are ya!!?? was thinking about you last week and then *poof* there you are.

travis ~ they did make my head hurt, definitely. funny how thinking really really really hard causes pain, like using a muscle to excess.

August 15, 2007 12:56 PM  

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