Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mama Update

Just to let you know, we didn't learn anything at the doctor's office this morning. Tests were scheduled, and return appointments made, and now we wait.

If you want to know more about the appointment itself, read on. If not, you're dismissed. Class is over, you're free to go.

There is a standard set of questions that a doctor asks a patient with memory loss. This part of the exam always gives me a headache. My mother is so sweet, and she gets so embarrassed when she doesn't have an answer. "I'm thinking," she'll say, her hands on her chin, brow furrowed, until she forgets what the question is, and her embarrassment passes.

What is the year? 19....She doesn't know.

Day? Date? Month? She's got nothing.

Season? "I think it's summer." (Woot!)

What is this? [Doc points at his watch.] She's insulted. "It's a watch!" Duh.

Spell watch. W-A-T-C-H. She surprises me, sometimes.

Spell watch backwards. "I'd never need to do that." (Go, Mom!)

Draw this picture. Scribbles nothing of the sort on the page.

I'm going to interject here, and tell you that our Doctor is Asian, and has a bit of an accent. He was careful to articulate, but laughed at one point, saying "I think we're having problems with my accent." Mom gave pause a few times, but I thought she did amazingly well, and I resisted translating for her.

I'm going to give you 3 words to remember, ok? Banana, Chair, Pen. I will ask you to repeat those in a minute. Banana, Chair, Pen. Got it?

What country is this?
Well, I've been to California.

What are the 3 words that I asked you to repeat? She remembers nothing.

"It's a flute."

Mom and I were BOTH perplexed. What's the next part of the question? He tries again, more slowly: "It's a fuh-ruh-lute." Frlute. Fruit! He's prompting Mom to remember "banana" by telling her it's a fruit. I broke down and opened my pie hole: "It's a fruit, Mom."

Apple! She's so proud.

The doctor continued with the test, while my mind wandered.

I know that there is no "R" in the Chinese alphabet. Still, I wonder why it's so difficult to master. "Rrrrrrrruh! Rrrrrrrruh! Rrrrrrrrrrrruh!" goes through my mind. It seems like someone brilliant enough to get through 16 years of school and to actually become a neurologist could nail this with just a little practice time. Say, in the car, on the way to and from work.

I wonder what sounds I myself might never be able to master. For instance, if I were to take classes in Zulu, how long would it take me to incorporate that alveolar click into my vocabulary? You know, that sound you make with your tongue and the roof of your mouth: "TOCK!" Only you have to put that in the middle of a word. Like "My name is Lo[TOCK]ri.

I think I could do it, if I did that practice in the car thing—even though I gave up on my spanish CDs. I could learn zulu before I could ever become a brain surgeon, that's for sure.

I wonder if I should make an appointment with this neurologist for my attention deficit issues.

I come back from my comtemplating to watch Mom show the doctor how well she walks. Down to the end of the hallway and back. Then heel-to-toe. And now, on heels only.

"Now, tip toes," he said. *Tippy* *Tippy* *Tippy,* she looooooves this one, waving her arms up and down like a ballerina. I half expected her to pirouette in the hallway.

Doctor sat us down then, and told us she scored 7.5/30 on the memory test. He gave us some paperwork, and sent us on our way to the lab.

"I'm glad I got that California one right!" Mom said, as we were walking away.

"Yes," I tell her. "Good job."


  1. marinemom9:48 PM

    Never lose hope. It's what makes us human. I'm praying for you and your Mom.

  2. I think you're the best daughter in the whole world.

  3. My grandpa had dementia and, though it's a sad and terrible thing, there are some very funny moments. God bless you and your family.

  4. I am pulling for her too. I sometimes can't remember my own name.

  5. What geewits said.

  6. She's lucky to have you. Your sense of humor amazes me!

    Practice in the car? Hmmm. Not sure I could click. You think you could? Maybe - depends how long my commute was!

    (And via Twitter - glad you're sleeping!)

  7. You just have to laugh, I did. I too wonder how many of those I would have gotten wrong.

  8. Your mother IS very lucky to have you. Your humor - strength - patience. I don't know how you're managing.

    Don't give up hope.

    And obviously you have LOTS of friends out here, both in your real world and your blogging world!


  9. Hmmmm....well, it wasn't bad news, per se. You already knew she had memory issues...more tests, more info...don't stop. But I know you won't. You really are a wonderful daughter. Your mom sounds cute as a button (I would have loved to see her on her tippy toes) and your humor is making this bearable for you both. Hang in there - you've got an awful lot of folks out there cheering for you both.


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