It has been approximately a month since I took the battery of neuropsychology tests to help determine if and when and how my injury has affected my ability to do things with my brain. No, I’m not talking about telepathy or pyrokinesis or any such powers. Despite some encouragement to the contrary, those abilities have not manifested. I suspect that they are, in fact, better off inside of a Stephen King novel than my head.
I’m talking about the simultaneously ordinary and amazing things that most human brains do: cognition, perception, emotion, reasoning, language, memory, learning. The big question was: Does Bingo’s brain do these things as well as it did in its premorbid state? I had to read the report a couple times to get past that description, too—premorbid state.
If this experience has taught me anything, it has underlined my belief that psychology is significantly closer to the traditions of divination than those of science as I understand it. Let me pause to mention that I don’t mean to offend any psychologists in the audience. My experience has been that those treating me with a more scientific approach have been considerably more capable in putting my head and life back together than the psychologists. And for that I am more thankful.
For example, at one point I told anyone who would listen that I had severe, recurring headaches. The scientifically-minded took a picture of my brain with a camera they had invented just for that purpose. They found a pool of blood exerting pressure on my frontal lobe. They cut a hole in my skull and siphoned the blood out. The headaches stopped.
The psychology camp asked me to repeat a random series of letters and numbers back to them in alphabetical and numerical order. This did not help. As further evidence against the psychologists I present this item: merely recalling the previously mentioned neuropsychology exams gives me a headache.
So when I went in to get my results on Tuesday, I was not particularly surprised at what they told me. Most of the test results corresponded closely to what I have been able to observe in my day-to-day life. My perception, cognition and problem-solving skills all scored highly—particularly on those tests that were verbally based. There was a small, but repeatable and statistically significant break in these scores when the tests were repeated in a non-verbal manner. This disparity was even more noticeable in the results of the memory tests.
The psychologist went on to opine that those results were consistent with the type of injury I had suffered. As he related to me from my medical chart, I had two locations of injury: the right occipital lobe and the left frontal lobe. This corresponds to a fairly classic case of a coup-countercoup injury. Injury directly related to trauma at the site of impact is called a coup lesion—for me, the right occipital lobe. As the brain jolts backwards, it can hit the skull on the opposite side and cause a bruise called a countercoup lesion—left frontal. Put one hand on the right rear of your skull and another hand on the left front and you see how this worked out for me. The right occipital lobe handles vision, perception and visual analysis. The frontal lobes, particularly the surface structures, are instrumental in memory.
None of the results were poor enough to suggest a need for further therapy. I can corroborate that result with my own experiences since the second surgery. While I grow more tired more quickly, I believe myself to be capable to perform my job at the same level as before. And I have. – He went on to suggest that I am at further risk for depression. That mostly has to do with frustration with recovery or unfulfilled expectations of recovery. We’ll see how that goes with me.
I found the explanations of results so diffuse, so full of addendums, exceptions and multiple interpretations that I finally had to just ask: So if I’m taking this all in to summarize into some thirty-thousand foot view, what you’re saying is “I’m fine.” He did not disagree.
Funny. I don’t feel fine.
Perhaps that was the point.