The Exam

Pen and pencil

 

Days went by and without incident. I thought, once again, I was jumping the gun by having Mom visit a Neurologist. The appointment for the Doctor was made for the end of the week and I almost cancelled it. It’s very unusual to get an appointment so quickly, but there had been a cancellation, and the office was able to slip us in. I told Mom about the appointment and she didn’t react. I have no idea if she understood the appointment was for a neurologist or, if deep down inside, she knew there was a problem and wanted to know the answer. I picked her and my brother up so we could arrive as a family. We arrived and sat in the waiting room then were all called in together. I have to admit this doctor didn’t have much of a bedside manner. He was gruff and to the point. He began the conversation with my brother and myself. He asked us what we had witnessed over the last while in regards to Mom’s behaviour. We were open, yet guarded, because Mom was sitting next to us and we didn’t want to anger her anymore than needed. Following that short, yet truthful conversation he asked Mom a few questions. He began with; what day is today? He then moved on to asking her to repeat 3 words in which had no relation to each other (which she had no trouble with).

He then said looking at Mom, ‘periodically throughout this conversation I might ask you to repeat those 3 words back to me’.

She nodded.

I thought to myself, by now, I had even forgotten the words, ugh, was I having an issue also?

Next, he held up a pen and asked Mom ‘what is this’?

Mom looked over at me and said in a nervous laughter, ‘you know, it’s a…. a…. well, you know what it is…’

The doctor said ‘Anne, look at me, what is this’?

‘It’s ah… ah… you know…’

Next the doctor said, ‘ok, then what is this used for?’ still holding the pen in his hand.

Mom began to smile and say ‘ah, that thing, you know, that thing’.

My heart sank, not only did she have no idea what the word was, but she couldn’t say what a pen was used for. At that moment, all I wanted to do was help her, I said ‘Mom, you know what that is, it’s a’ and before I could complete the sentence, the doctor raised his other hand and said to me in a stern voice, ‘don’t help her’.

My heart began to beat faster as I looked over at my brother. I think we both knew at that moment, our lives would be changed forever.

Next, he asked my Mom to repeat the 3 words he had asked her to remember at the start of their conversation. I was surprised I now remembered 2, and that’s only because I had associated the words together in a sentence. Mom just pointed to the pen and said ‘pencil’.

The doctor tried again asking her the 3 words and she only said… ‘you know, the thing’.

He now moved on and handed her the pen (or pencil as she thought), a piece of paper, and asked her to draw a clock and draw the time on the clock as 11:15.

She had the pen in her hand and looked fearfully over at me. Suddenly, all I wanted to do was hug her and say everything will be fine, let’s get out of here, but, looking over at the doctor, I looked away from Mom.

I noticed she was wearing her watch, so thought she could cheat, look at it and copy it on the paper provided, but I was wrong. She took the pen, concentrated, and following a few minutes, scribbled something. The doctor then asked her to write out 11:15, another scribble. Next he asked her to write her name. This proved to be easy for her, although, her handwriting was weak and messy. Again, he asked her to repeat the 3 words he said at the beginning of the conversation (never did he say the word ‘test’).

Really? I now doubted she even remembered the beginning of the conversation, and I was proven right, as she answered once again, ‘you know, that, the thing, over there…’, then out of the blue, she raised her hand and said happily, ‘oh pen’ waving it in her hand! She looked over at me with a huge smile for assurance. I smiled and nodded. Instantly, I sensed my eyes begin to tear up. I wanted to throw my arms around her! I didn’t want her to be tested anymore, and I wanted her fixed. I wanted the fun, caring, loving, and laughing person back. I wanted my Mom back!

© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved.

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