Two days ago Peter had a three-month follow-up with the neurologist. This was an extra one fitted in to satisfy questions from our long term care insurance. They would not be satisfied with the reams of paper and hundreds of answers I’d provided.
After the usual weight, blood pressure, medications’ check and general chit chat, the doctor told Peter the real reason we were there. “I need to ask you a lot of silly questions,” she said apologetically, “things your insurance wants to know.”
He nodded as if he understood, and maybe he did. We’d been through this so many times already.
“OK, here we go,” she said. “Can you tell me what year this is?”
“I know it’s two-thousand something…two-thousand fourteen?” He looked like a little kid, worried lest he give the wrong answer.
“Yes!” she said. I smiled
“OK, what month?”
He hesitated. “August, maybe?”
“Yes!” The doctor and I raised our eyebrows.
“Summer?” He was gaining momentum, though he punctuated each answer with a question mark.
“You’re doing well. Now, what day of the week?”
“It’s not Thursday, I know that. Monday?”
Then she told him she would name three things for him to remember. “I’m not going to give you the ones I always use,” she said, “because that’s too easy for you.” Not really true any longer because he hadn’t been able to repeat her “firetruck, airplane, house” in several years. “This time I want you to remember, ‘car, banana, backpack.’ OK?”
He nodded and repeated the words to himself.
She continued questioning: what state, what county, what floor of the building? She held up a pen, a note pad, her glasses, a tuning fork. He stumbled only on tuning fork and county. He knew what a tuning fork was for, but couldn’t say the name. Close enough. And I don’t think he’s ever known the name of our county.
“Now…can you tell me the three words?”
He concentrated, but shook his head no.
Then she asked him to count backwards from one hundred by sevens. Usually he can do this faster than I could with a calculator, but he was hestitant. “Start over,” she suggested. His second try he kept going until she said he gone far enough. He’d aced that test…again.
Next, the date.
He answered quickly. “Eighteenth!”
I woohooed and the doctor clapped her hands. “You’ve done very well,” she said, “I’m very impressed!” He was so pleased with himself he was actually blushing.
“But it’s not the eighteenth…is it?” I said. But, yes, it was — Monday, August 18. Then I remembered I’d told Peter it was the nineteenth on all the forms he’d just filled in. They had a good laugh at my expense.
The doctor totaled up Peter’s score — twenty-five points out of twenty-seven. That was his best score since his baseline exam years ago.
August 18, 2014 was definitely high five day!
Header photo: Sun flower on a cloudy day, Zion National Park, Utah, 2011.