Sadly it was the second workday after my wife left that I had to have my follow up neuropsychological evaluation. Originally we had done one 8 hour tests but because my brain was still “swollen” and my energy levels were lower we split this up into two 4 hour ones. Both because I was shaken up and because I was scared it would skew the results, I announced that my wife had left right at the beginning of the tests, something that’s now noted permanently in a psychological evaluation.
I tried to focus on these two four hour sessions as best as I could both because I wanted to have the results be “valid” and because the first test had been fascinating and I hoped to still be able to find them that interesting. I worked hard at it and they are all mostly short but I’ll never know completely how valid some of the results were as there was no way to turn off my mind from drifting to this new enigma. Both the first psychological and the second one stated that I was distracted. Now you can diagnose me with ADD or you can accept my excuse that the first time I was distracted by trying to figure out the test and the second time I was distracted by life itself.
It was bizarre how the possibility of losing my wife was scaring me more than death and cancer had. I’d always approached life as if I knew I was dying but I had spent every second of the last several years and definitely the last few weeks thinking that when it came, something that I thought had moved up, it would be next to her, holding her hand, fulfilling the old vow of till death do us part, keeping the in sickness in health part. We took a break during the psychological and I sat there and wrote down all the things I’d done wrong during the marriage small or big and tried to find a solution to address them with her. She actually called during the test and I hoped to talk her into just come back home but at the end of the day rationality and logic aren’t the drivers of companionship and emotions. I had thought that 2010 was one of the best year of our marriages until the diagnosis but mainly it was a solitary opinion but where was the better or worse part? And wasn’t it just simply true that our marriage would succeed if we realized that sometimes the better comes through if you stick through the worse part? (Yes I know if you’re reading this you’re starting to wonder if this cancer blog is about to become about my relationship and it’s not but I am trying to process how those two are tied together. I’ve started writing those thoughts separately in a couple of different places addressed to Kiana and her mom, like these writings, make a narrative that helps me deal with it.)
The psychological results would come back about a week later. It had gone very well but there were some shifts and changes both physically and psychologically. The right side of my body was testing weaker, with my right grip being weaker (this may have been true all around as people in my running group could tell that my left leg was carrying me through runs). The shifts in personality were that I was slightly calmer, slightly more impulsive and had slightly higher executive functions. How those three combine I just don’t know and down the lane no one has really noticed any of them except for the calmer one. There had been some memory changes, my reading memory had gone up but my auditory memory had gone down. Everything came out fairly close to where it had previously been but I was told that I would have a harder time both making memories and therefore recalling memories from the time of the surgery forward. I came out mildly retarded in the part of the brain that comes up with unique words that we all know (the ones that have happened to me in real life are abacus, syllabus and totem pole). The tests showed me at an elevated level of depression. I made mistakes that we all see people but that came over night to me with association. When talking about Kiana or her mom I often called them the other’s name. When referring to the surgery I often called it the marathon. How this all works in the brain I don’t know but it has been interesting to have these changes continue and be fairly permanent. My fine finger coordination was down but apparently “unless you’re a crocheter, you’re going to not notice it.”
There was an upside that was very good. My IQ in the first psychological had been in the 93rd percentile. While mostly people who had read the first one thought this was great I had done this earlier in life and they’d always been in the 98 and 99th percentile. This one took me back to the 99th percentile so it was glad to be thinking better now??? The neuropsychologist believed that the tumor’s hyper activity may well have been blocking a variety of things and that removing the tumor was going to help various areas of life. When he said that, it was definitely hard to believe.
The neuropsychologist suggested some therapists and said to go with them because he said therapy and neuropsychological tests are less effective on “highly functioning” people without a very intelligent therapist. I had not gone to any therapy during cancer suspense but I called all those guys the next day.