Saturday, 12 May 2012

Tests, discussions and fighting for my life

It's been a while since my last update. Things have been a bit busy around here, and I haven't had a chance or the willpower/energy to fill you in on the latest up until now.

Much of April was spend visiting a psychometrist. Yup, that word stumped me too.  Basically, a psychometrist is a person who conducts testing to assess your brain functioning and skill level.

Stealing from the definition from the National Association of Psychometrists:

A thorough neuropsychological test battery often assesses a variety of domains including (but not limited to): cognitive functioning, attention and concentration skills, language functioning, verbal and visuo-spatial abilities, academic/achievement performance, memory abilities, motor and sensory-motor integration, effort, executive functioning, and emotional status. A full neuropsychological evaluation often requires 6-8 hours to administer and score depending on the population and referral question.

So, for several days, I felt like BoBo the clown. I participated in tests designed to assess my memory, concentration levels etc. I played with blocks, tried to remember stories, sequences and words.

You see, one of the issues of concern is my memory. I forget common words, although I can tell you what the object is used for or means. I do things out of sequence - like put wrapped butter in the microwave instead of the fridge. I forget faces and names, which is unusual for me. I mix up sentences as I speak and can't figure out how to say what I need to say... And, earlier this week (oh, joy of joys), I forgot how to put a bra on... Something I've been doing almost everyday for the last 30 years.  So, yes, it can get pretty disturbing.

But I digress... back to the testing and results.

Then, I met with a psychologist to assess the results. To be truthful, I felt a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz - when she and her friends finally had the chance to receive the gifts they were searching for from the Wizard. The Scarecrow got his brains, the Tin man his heart, and the Lion his courage... "but I don't think there's anything in your bag for me." And, there wasn't much he could do or say for me.

Here's what we found out:
  • I'm an introvert, who suffers from anxiety, panic etc.
  • I have no positive emotion and spend much of my day in a trance-like state.
  • I am depressed and have suicidal ideation.
  • I am allegedly intelligent (although I don't feel like that anymore).
  • My visual memory is below average, while other functioning is within an acceptable range.
  • It's possible that this issue relates to a head injury incurred in 1991, where I suffered from post-concussion syndrome. The one action, which lead to other health issues, may have been the root cause of all of this... (Can anyone relate to this?)
  • My migraines and headaches are not controlled, so I should see another specialist - this time a migraine pain specialist - to address the issue.
  • The lesions in my brain should be re-examined via MRI to see if they are impacting my situation (highly doubtful, though).
  • I should probably change my medication from Effexor to something else that doesn't impact my heart and health as much.
His solutions? Well, not many. Volunteer or try to do something part-time - not ready for that. I might be ready to start taking classes, though. And, undergo extensive psychotherapy...

Needless to say, I left his office feeling very defeated and wanting to just sit in a corner and cry.

No real answers... My next meeting with my psychiatrist is in a couple of weeks, so hopefully, there will be some solutions there.

Then, I received a letter from the insurance company. It seemed nice enough, but I am terrified. For some reason, it freaked me out entirely. Maybe it was the suggestion I work with them to return to work. Maybe it was just having my life - my strange life - written onto paper by someone else, without emotion - just the facts.

So, now I'm left fighting for my life - feeling alone in my quest. Well, alone from at least a professional perspective.  If 'they' can't help, I have to find my own solutions.

I started meditating and trying to be more positive again, and I will return to my regular workouts once my tooth/jaw situation is resolved (another LONG story. hopefully by mid-next week). I am also trying to force myself to meet with at least one person (not close family member) a week, with the hopes that I become less afraid of whatever I'm afraid of.

The meditation seems to help keep me more calm - not as frightened of everything as I have been lately. And, I have been trying to look for all the positives in my world. Fortunately, there's been lots of good things happening recently, so it's been easier to count my blessings. I've also been working towards changing my inner thought patterns. Switching the negatives to more positive framing and trying to be more optimistic in my outlook.

Unfortunately, a few set backs... I had a tooth pulled, so I'm in pain; I created/got into a car accident (no one was hurt - just my car, his car, my pride and my insurance rating), and I burnt my finger on a hot BBQ coal (stupid).

I think that trying to adopt a more positive attitude will be helpful in dealing with life's challenges. I've always thought I was a positive person, but thinking about ideas, I have come to realise that my 'positive attitudes' were reserved for other people and not necesssarily me. My self talk - especially recently - has been very negative and not life affirming. In an upcoming post, I'll talk more about flipping the negatives into positives.