Woman wearing a smart watch smirks with a giant stack of books in front of her laptop at the library

Is There a Study Guide for this Exam?

Those of us with Parkinson’s disease (PD) have concerns about the various symptoms looming in our future. I have heard people discuss if, when, or how fast they might lose their cognitive abilities. I would like to keep my mind, thank you very much. Where is the magic ball that can reveal what to expect as our disease progresses?

Okay. I know there is no magic ball. But you know what? The PD life can be short on smiles. Sometimes I just want to do something fun or unexpected to make me laugh.

My neurologist runs me through the Mini-Mental State Examination 1 (MMSE) annually. I think I will change my usual answers to liven things up a bit. I prepared this study guide.

Examination responses

Question (Doctor): What is the year?
Answer (Me): Well, doc, since I know I did not stay up last night until midnight to ring in a new year, I expect it is the same year as it was yesterday.

Q: What is the season?
A: It’s the cold season. I know that for sure because I see you once a year and I always need my warm coat; not like when I wear my light coat indoors because the air conditioning is cold. That is the hot season.

Q: What is the date?
A: Well, here, let me look at this smart watch a young friend gave me. She bought a new one and said this one was good enough to bring me up to date. Oh! To answer your question, the date is December 5th.

Q: What is the day?
A: This must be Monday, you know, because I always schedule my visit with you on a Monday so I can start the week off on the right foot. Just the other day someone asked me what it means to start off on the right foot and I told them it means it is a good way to begin what they are doing. How are you doing today, Doc?

Q: What is the month?
A: It’s still December. Did you forget? I’m glad to help any way I can. Did I show you this new-to-me smart watch? I can see the day of the week, month, date and time every time I look.

Q: Where are we now? State?
A: Is this 1 question or 2? It seems like two to me. We are in your office and, unless something has magically changed, we are in Texas. That makes me think of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. You know, when she looks at her adorable dog and says, "Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore." Or did you want to know just the state? If so, we are still in the great state of Texas, not Kansas.

Q: County?
A: This is Taylor County. Do you know why it is named Taylor County? I remember my Texas history. Taylor County was named in honor of the brothers Taylor who fought at the Alamo. May Edward, James and George rest in peace.

Q: Town/city?
A: That is a good question. Is Paris a town or a city? It is a town here in Texas but a city in France. I suspect I had best go with town because I think you mean here.

Q: Hospital?
A: No, thank you. I like your office just fine.

Q: Floor?
A: I think this is that fake wood floor, you know, what they call engineered hardwood. Do I have to know what kind of wood? I have pecan trees in my yard and this has a pecan coloring to it so I will say the floor is pecan.

Scoring the MMSE

These are only the first 10 items, worth 1 point each. The entire test is worth 30 points. On one hand, these answers will take more time than during past visits but with the rising costs of an office call, I will be getting more for my money.

On the other hand, I might lose points and fall into a category of impairment that changes my place of residence. I am ready to mix things up a bit but wish me luck. If I fail, come and rescue me!

Cognitive decline is serious

Please note, dear reader, that this is tongue-in-cheek, and silly answers should not be attempted with your doctor if they administers the mini-mental test during your next visit.

I offer all due respect to persons with Parkinson’s who may be seeing a cognitive decline and am not making light of the seriousness of their circumstances. They may one day be mine.

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