April 2, 2011

Examining the brain...

Went for my neuropsychiatric testing the other day - a full day of brain tests and questions of vocabulary and memory things and attention stuff. Was totally exhausting, and I could barely drive home - arrived back, called the kennel to take care of the dog for another night, and sat, too tired to eat or move for the evening before I fell into bed.
So, what are the tests?
Some of them were silly for someone with MS - depression inventories aren't accurate if fatigue is your constant companion.  You do sleep more than usual, you do cut back on social activities, you do lose interest in sex and other things you enjoy just cos you are pole-axed tired most of the time.
Some of them were silly for someone with an extensive vocabulary and multiple degrees. Defining words that are monosyllabic is not a challenge, even if I am slipping. Reading familiar words aloud would only be a problem if I had severe muscle involvement or significant dementia.
Math - more challenging.  Trying to figure out patterns - difficult.  Understanding instructions for one test was almost impossible for some reason - I started off wrong, and when the kindly psychologist explained it again to me, I still had difficulty processing what I needed to do.
Paired words weren't too hard, although it took me 4 tries to get most of them. What was most astonishing was the complete vanishing of the information - usually one has a "tip of the brain" phenomenon, where you try to retrieve things and a variety of options present themselves.  No options presented themselves. It was dark inside there. I could hear crickets.
Counting backwards was tough until I figured out the pattern.  Took me a while, and if I did the math correctly, the letters I was supposed to remember were not available to my conscious mind - yet I could say them, often. Weird. It's like when I type and words come but my mind is blank. Very very strange.
I think, generally speaking, I did okay on most things, but it wasn't fun. If I had had to do anything after the testing, I would have crashed. I was almost in tears by the end of the day.
I should point out kindly Psychologist did offer to break the session if I was tired, but I wanted to get an idea for how I would perform after a full day. I'm still tired now, two days later.
I get my report in a couple of weeks, just before I leave. I'm wondering what they'll show.