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If I called him a recluse who had half a brain, it almost wouldn't be an insult

Posted Jan 11 2009 5:45pm

Yesterday Frank picked me up from work a little early so that we could go to his follow-up visit to get the results of the cognitive testing he had a few weeks ago. He had a full battery of about ten or eleven different tests which were essentially divided into three categories: academic ability/IQ and memory/information retrieval, tactile function, and personality/emotional quotient. The psychiatrist wrote meticulous notes and reviewed them page by page. He explained that to get a true read of abilities and impairments, you had to consider the disaggregated results of the individual tests, the combined scores of the tests for each of the three groups, then the cumulative scores of all the tests combined. Furthermore, there were two different ways of looking at the final, cumulative score.

For the academic/IQ tests, Frank landed on the bottom end of the above-average range. He sucks at math but excels at everything else. I think the psych nearly shit his pants with Frank's results on the rhythm recognition test. He scored 30/30, which the good doctor said almost never happens. Frank's tactile function (not to be confused with something like erectile dysfunction - "tactile" is how well his hands work to gather information) is near the bottom end of average. The overall score is "okay". Breaking the results down, though, he shows some slight impairment with tactile function of his right hand, which is consistent with the MS larger, more active lesions that are present on the left side of his brain (and probably also explains why his right leg cramped up for a while a couple of months ago). He doc explained that they start the tactile tests with the dominant hand, which is Frank's right. The dominant hand usually always works more efficiently than the other. In Frank's case, his left hand outperformed the right. In fact, Frank's right hand consistently scored either on the low end of average or the high end of below average, and his left hand scored so well that the left and right hand scores combined are what bumped the overall score to average. Confused yet? As an English teacher, the redundancy of words are killing me ("Use varied word choices, or you'll bore the snot out of your readers"), but there are only so many ways you can explain this stuff without being repetitive. Digression.

Finally, we were given the test results for the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory 2 (MMPI-2), a test with which many surrogates are familiar, though I've never had to take it. Almost reluctantly, the psych said, "Well, your personality test shows that you're perfectly normal, except...well, it says you're very introverted." We knowingly chuckled. "It's not bad or anything, " he continued, "you just probably prefer being alone or with a small group doing something inside, like hanging out, versus going out with a big group getting jiggy in the clubs or something. You're not the party guy." Yes, he really said "getting jiggy." So, Frank isn't crazy. I wonder if the MMPI would show me as an introvert or an extrovert. I feel like an introvert but when I characterize myself that way, people look at me like I'm crazy. I digress again.

Overall on one scale, Frank is doing just fine, which of course is a huge relief. The other comprehensive scale works on a type of point system with 0 being perfect and 10 being completely disabled (either intellectually, physically, emotionally, or a combination of the three). 0-2 is normal and Frank scored 2. As it was explained to us, had his tactile function been that much worse, it would have tipped him into a 3. The psych's conclusion paragraph said that Frank has slight physical impairment consistent with MS. These results will serve two purposes: most importantly, this is baseline data against which future testing will be measured. I hope he won't slide downhill any time soon. Secondly, the results will be sent off to VA along with a copy of his entire file from his neurologist. Hopefully the VA will increase his disability rating, which will increase the amount of retired pay he recieves. I explained how all of that works here, and I'm too lazy I have too many things to do this morning to explain it again.

Now I must go. I have a ton of things to do before el Cinco's Open House at 11 and my Open House at my school from 3pm - 6pm. The first day of school is tomorrow. I think I'm still in denial.

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