Neurological Baseline Test: My Results (Part 2)
After taking the Weschler Individual Achievement Test, it took eight weeks to get my results since they had a lot of information to go through. From a 2-hour history of Parkinson’s discussion to the final six hours of the test, I was under the microscope. This analysis included my ability to read, respond, listen, calculate, perform, and play well with others in a “high-stakes” setting. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that some of the tests were fun…
But many weren’t.
Hearing portion of the neurological test
One of the tests that I took was listening to Casio sounds from a cassette. Here, I would compare several beeps to another pattern of beeps. Were they the same or different? Everything sounded the same to me, so my score showed hearing deficits.
Many people are aware that Parkinson’s affects our ability to speak loudly or in a way that is difficult to understand. Additionally, we sometimes have trouble hearing. Here, dopamine may not be regulating auditory pathways properly. Somehow, it always comes back to dopamine.
In my former teaching life, I would have trouble hearing soft-spoken students at the back of the room. Trying to understand a soft, high voice was never easy without asking to repeat it. This wasn’t my favorite.
What’s more, the decision to wear a hearing aid isn’t as easy as “you’re losing your hearing, so go get a pair of (expensive) hearing aids.” In many of our lives, we already faced the first stigma of being “four-eyed” (that’s me). I never found glasses to be a big deal, but some people do. However, with my occasional hearing issues, it feels “more” of yet another part of me that I’m losing. As with many people who are finding that the main condition gives us a lot of “free toasters,” I find it’s not easy to accept every challenge at once. As I did with sleep apnea, I will cross the bridge eventually, but for now, if I can escape distant, soft voices and beep patterns, I will.
Besides, I’m not going to translate Morse Code any time soon.
I’m a lot slower than I once was. No, it’s not like Wal-Mart’s quest to keep up with Amazon’s online website speeds by doing things milliseconds quicker, but rather it’s about being more deliberate in my thoughts of how to go from 1>2>3 or 1>A>2>B.
In real life, I have noticed that I compensate for balance by leaning against objects when I stand up. At first, I wasn’t even conscious of it, but now, I don’t even pretend I can stand on one leg to put my pants on. I just sit.
The Weschler showed me how much slower my mind was at matching a symbol on line 1 to its partner on line 2. While I matched correctly, I wasn’t aware that I didn’t do it as fast as my peers. My mind never picked up my hesitation.
Normally, the slight difference in speed isn’t noticeable unless we’re observing a race between equals over time. When it comes to test results, seeing this difference made me hyper-aware of how I might not be able to respond in split-second decisions.
Process that, Dan.
There are no rules for how we’re supposed to handle Parkinson’s, but I think the plan goes like his: stoicism > hug therapy > guide me > do it for me, please. In the beginning, we’re tough and independent. Then, we need to know we’re loved despite this hand we’ve been dealt. Then, we move toward simple frustration, anxiety, and depression, where we need someone to motivate us. Finally, we need someone to run the ship because we can’t.
There are many things that can be frustrating about a test of our abilities that we can’t prepare for. Not doing well can mean we’re “losing our minds” (literally). Granted, a test like this can help get disabilities payments, but there is no price that can compensate for loss of function. Hence, we’re going to feel like parts of the test are impossible. Other requests will be ridiculous and serve no purpose that we can comprehend.
This test really challenged who I was and am.
My advice is to ask questions. You pay to be in the chair.
Some people will quit the test due to its length and intensity. The doctor even said this. Yes, the doctors will want you to finish, but you need to feel good regarding the process.
Get full service.
Facing challenges with Parkinson’s
Nobody’s perfect, and Parkinson’s present challenges. If you’re saving the world from disaster, be perfect like Chuck Norris. Society depends on it. Since I’m just me, I need to give myself a break while trying to show the same empathy I want to receive.
Here, the greatest challenge of the results is somewhere between the loss of memory and the effects of Parkinson’s on our personalities. Whether it’s losing our smile or melodic voice, or being annoyed and anxious of little things, it stinks. If anything, I’m conscious of how big a footprint Parkinson’s interjects into my own relationships. The THINK acronym (is it: truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary, kind) goes a long way. I’m working on it. Parkinson’s can cause anger and frustration. I need to be aware of what I can do before I do it.
That said, I also need to find joy and live life without the new identity of some test’s results replacing the person Dan is. If I can do that, I’ll be a better me.
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