Potato. Table. Green.

Potato.  Table.  Green.

Remember those words (there’s a quiz later!). 

The countdown is over!  Robert saw his fabulous neurologist with the awesome Canadian accent today and the results are in (although so are a lot more questions). 

The MRI showed no stroke (yay!!) and actually indicated no change whatsoever since his MRI of two years ago (there goes my medical career).  The “large area of encephalomalacia” that sounded so concerning was due to his brain surgeries of several years ago so wasn’t anything new. 


So am I nuts for thinking Robert has declined?  (For those who do think I am nuts, sorry to disappoint you but this isn’t your proof).  Lady Neuro notices the change, too, when Robert can’t walk across the room to get to the examination table without a great deal of assistance.  She puts Robert through a battery of physical and mental tests with me hovering, ready to jump out of my skin to help (but somehow restraining myself). 

I’ve moved from Helicopter Parent to Helicopter Sister. 

Lady Neuro instructs Robert to pretend to hammer a nail, saw some wood, brush his teeth and salute.  From the results, I think he can build me a bookcase with clean teeth but won’t be able to salute a young soldier who happens by. 

Next come the memory questions making me wish I had thought to make Robert study beforehand!  He answers the best he can, thinking a very long time before answering and asking if he got the question right or wrong.  He knows the day of the week but is off by a few days on the date.  He thinks it is 2010 (which must have been a good year for him), thinks Bush is president (yikes! nightmare relived! Oops, this isn’t a political post, is it?), and says he lives in Tahoe.  (Maybe he thought she asked where he wished he lived since it’s 103 outside right now). 

He can’t remember what country he lives in.  I wince at this but catch myself, hoping he didn’t see me.  These are questions he probably could have answered correctly a year ago and definitely could have two years ago. 

I’m tapping the floor by this time wanting to know what exactly Lady Neuro thinks is going on and what we can do about it.  She’s asking him to remember the three words she gave him at the beginning of the memory test while I silently recall them after a brief panic that surely I forgot them. 

Quiz time:  what are the three words I gave at the top of the post (and don’t look back at them!)?

Robert can only say two words which are actually sort of related to the words he was supposed to remember.  I think this should count for something. 

Lady Neuro cannot give me a definitive answer just yet.  She orders an EEG which will tell us if there’s any difference from his last EEG and will also tell us if he is having mini-seizures in his brain which are not outwardly manifesting themselves.  She is also sending us to a memory specialist who will conduct more extensive memory testing.  Fortunately, Robert had a memory test several years ago so we will have a baseline to compare it to. 

Lady Neuro is reluctant to speculate but I can be very persistent (but in such a nice way, right Hubby?).  She allows the decline could be a cumulative result of years of uncontrolled seizures, medications, surgeries, infections and falls or the change could be a result of something new such as early onset dementia (or something related to that).  Management of these symptoms will depend upon the tests (which should be within the next few months). 

At lunch after the appointment, Robert enjoys his cheeseburger, counting how many bites it takes him to finish.  I ask him if he has any questions about the appointment and, after thinking about it for a minute, simply says “no” and starts working on his fries. 

(Robert is a great example of enjoying the moment especially if food is involved!).

Although I’ve been doing so these last few posts, I’ll take a lesson from Robert and refuse to continue to fret about the future.  We will handle whatever is thrown our way and if that means dealing with more seizures than we thought or managing early onset dementia, then that’s what we’ll do.  Bring it on!

Now, excuse me while I do some brain exercises . . .  

Potato. Table. Green.  Potato. Table. Green.  Potato. Table. Green.

Avatar of Trish

About Trish

I am Robert’s older sister and a freelance writer and am also a full-time Legal Administrator for a wonderful law firm (no, that is not an oxymoron). I am the caregiver for my youngest brother, Robert, who has suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. In his late-40s now, he lives with me and my husband. I have somehow managed to navigate the maze of social services and government programs available to help Robert and continue to be amazed at the amount of time and persistence that is needed to do so. Robert finds happiness in simple pleasures like doing word search puzzles and watching his favorite shows (Family Feud and Jeopardy, of course!)

7 thoughts on “Potato. Table. Green.

  1. Avatar of KathyKathy

    I failed the memory test! I didn’t think there would actually be one I just wanted the teat results so I skipped through!! UGH!!

    Good news, No Stroke!!!

    I do know how anxious I get when Hubby takes his MME in the Dr office. Heck I was so intent on remembering the 3 words he asked Hubby I still remember them 4 yrs later! It will happen to you too.

    SO, Lady Neuro did notice a decline. I want to say yay you aren’t crazy but I want to say boo for Robert. Another month before more testing, I guess we have to live with it. Hopefully they will have a better idea of what’s going on and IF he has a form of dementia they will get him started on some meds right away. If it’s something else lets hope there’s an easy and quick fix. I’m voting for this.

    Trish, you take such meticulous care of Robert, not just physically but mentally and you do it with the greatest measure of love. What a blessing you are.
    Thanks you for sharing him and you with us.

    • Trish

      Ha! I warned you there was going to be a quiz! :-) She did mention meds if it’s dementia so we’ll have to patiently wait for the calls telling me when the appts are (don’t call us; we’ll call you — I hate that!).

      What a blessing you (and everyone else here) is! My goodness, I don’t know how I’d do this without you guys.


  2. Sharon

    Trish, I admire your loving care of your brother. You are a great sister and advocate for your brother.

  3. Jane

    Hi Trish:

    Robert is lucky to have you for a sister. You are a wonderful advocate for him.


  4. Avatar of JenniferJennifer

    Years ago, a similar story with my then father-in-law. The words there were “Umbrella. Square. ’66 Chevy.” I haven’t forgotten them in 16 years, but he couldn’t even get them with prompting after 16 minutes. It’s a compelling story – and the only way to deal with it is to do EXACTLY what you’re doing, Trish!
    Good job – Robert is so lucky to have you in his corner.

  5. Bette

    Hi Trish,
    You are very brave to stay in the room during the testing–I have to excuse myself (:

    You continue to show concern with Robert’s whole person – I love that in everything that goes on in your day – you stay so strong in moving forward and gathering information to help Robert.

    Thank you for that example Trish. I hope you are able to get additional information soon.

  6. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    Hi Trish–I, too, failed the test. :)

    I love this post because it’s such a good reminder to us that tests (and how we do on them) don’t make us who we are. How we handle the pressure, how we enjoy the cheeseburger, how we ensure our loved ones get our support and love… When we pass these tests, then we’re good.

    I love your approach to everything! You and Robert can manage whatever comes your way. You’re a terrific team.


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