Shortly before coming back to work, I had a follow-up appointment with the neuropsychologist. This all stems from a remark that I made in passing to my MS Nurse wondering if I was starting to forget things. Apparently that's all you need to end up being sent to do a battery of tests to try and determine if you are, in fact, losing your mind. I actually took the tests as far back as April, but until now I had been unable to attend any of the follow up appointments that they sent me due to being somewhere on the other side of the world.
Actually, since I stopped working back in January, I haven't had much cause to worry about my possible mental decay. Probably this is entirely to do with the fact that I haven't been at work and have been using my brain in a completely different way. It's not that I was having any particular problems at work, it's just that I think that being away from the stresses and strains of work - small though they may have been and little though I thought they were bothering me - has enabled my brain to relax. Not completely, you understand.... as well as watching daytime antiques programmes, I've also been reading some Dickens.... but not having all those little concerns and frustrations on my mind seems to have been very helpful. The time away has also given me a little bit of perspective onto exactly what was worrying me, and I've come to the conclusion that, just as my physical decline may be more due to my age than to my MS, the same is likely to be true of my mind.
Still, I'd done the tests, so I might as well go and find out the results, eh?
When I took the tests, I was told that although my results would be compared with other people of my age to see if I was significantly above or below average, essentially they would be used to create a baseline against which my future mental performance could ge guaged. In other words, don't expect any great insight from these results. And indeed, there were no great revelations. I did OK in most of the tests, very well in some and only significantly below average in one particular test: the one where I was asked to make a copy of a complex shape three times. The first time, I had a drawing of the shape in front of me and was simply to duplicate it. Once I had done this, I was then immediately asked to do another copy of the shape from memory. Half an hour later, I was asked to do another copy from memory. Apparently, even my first copy -- with the shape in front of me -- was shoddy. Not surprisingly, my subsequent attempts from memory were terrible.
The psychologist was kind enough to wonder at what point in the sequence of tests I had done this, and to wonder if perhaps I had been thoroughly tired of the whole process by then and wasn't concentrating properly. He held up one of my drawings, and showed how I hadn't even bothered to join up the lines on the neat, interlocking geometrical shapes of the original in my first attempt. The corners of my rectangles didn't meet and just sort of taper off sadly.
In fairness, it did look like a piss-poor effort, and if I couldn't get the first copy right, then my subsequent attempts were always likely to be doomed. In my defence though, if I'd known that they were going to focus on the DETAIL of the copies I made from memory, then perhaps I might have made more effort to join up the corners. There was me thinking that an approximation would be good enough and they'd appreciate what I was TRYING to draw rather than worrying about why I hadn't used a ruler. Whatever. I can't say that I was particularly troubled by my failure in this particular exercise. After all, if these results reveal anything at all, then they show that I'm good at some things, less good at other things, and average in lots of things.
Isn't that true of everyone?