Thursday, October 05, 2006

"If i only had a brain..."

Yesterday i had a unique experience. Because of the whole fibromyalgia-arthritis-hard to work thing i've had a couple of interesting doctor visits lately. Last week it was one where i got weighed and measured (why will they always take my word on my height, but not my weight?) and told to bend here and fold there....the young girl taking the measurements very delicately put her tape measure to my legs and arms (i apologized for not having shaved my legs, had i known i would be fondled about the calf and thigh i surely would have) and checked for matching/not matching sides of my body. The doctor then came in and spent his 2.5 minutes speaking with me, looked at my scoliosis in the lower spine, and told me he makes no decisions, he merely does the exam and gives the information to the Social Security people, and they decide.

Yesterday's appointment was much more entertaining (hard to imagine, i know) as it was a psychological evaluation. Did this have me nervous? But of course. Did it help that Mapquest has an odd sense of humor when laying out the route to an unknown doctor's office? Not really. But once i was there outside the office, shoving nickles and dimes into the parking meter, i steeled myself for the upcoming unknown evaluation.

The office was in a lovely old building in nearby Oakland. i let myself in to the suite's waiting room and was handed a clipboard with 6 or 7 sheets of questions. Some i could answer easily: "do you smoke? use drugs? feel like killing anybody?" But questions like, "what do you think is your main problem?" or "did you feed/bathe/dress yourself today?" begged for answers i felt i should probably NOT put down on a psychiatric evaluation. And yet, those questions barely prepared me for the battery of tests administered by the doctor herself. (And why is it called a "battery of tests"? Is it because you feel battered after taking them?)

i was feeling all pumped by the questions like "how are apples and oranges alike?" BOTH FRUITS! or "how are "cars and boats alike?" BOTH TRANSPORTATION! Maybe i can pass this test! Ah, but they got trickier as time went on: "how are flies and trees alike?" Uh, both alive and hopefully outside. "Why do we have a probation system?" HUH? "Name all the continents" "Who was president during the Civil War?" What are we testing?? Whether or not i was i asleep during history and geography classes???

And then came the evil *Numbers*.... "I am going to say a list of numbers, and you repeat them back to me." Numbers--never my favorite, and here they come to bite me in the backside-- "5. 8." Okay i can do this!! Then eventually, "6. 3. 5. 1. 9. 8. 3. 4." Um..(furrowed brow...) "And now I will give you a list of numbers and I want you to REPEAT THEM BACKWARDS TO ME." Now, nice Doctor Lady, if i couldn't repeat 8 numbers to you FORWARD, what makes you think i shouldn't just go out and get myself a candy bar and come back later?

And there were patterns to be copied made of blocks. Anybody familiar with "Flowers for Algernon," the story of a mentally handicapped person who has some experimental treatment or something and becomes brilliant, but then it wears off and they go back to where they started? Well, whether or not i just butchered that story, guess what part of the story i felt like? Yep, back to slow. And there were patterns to be copied in pencil. Cool. i'm all over that one--yes, i have copied the "Could You Be An Artist?" pictures from the ads-- "Now, I will take away the cards and your drawings--Now draw them from memory." Back to slooower.

By the end of the testing i was seriously questioning my ability to unlock my own car door, and i have one of those "push the button on the remote to unlock" thingies.

i did get myself home, though. But today i am not getting out of bed. Not sure if i can feed/bathe/dress myself anymore.


Lea Ann said...

Did not know you were going through all this...It can't be fun. I'm thinking the goal is to see if you qualify for disability payments from SSI. If they gave me the test you described I know I'd qualify :)!

julia said...

i'm sure i'll qualify for something, i'm just not sure what-- but yes, you are correct, i'm humbling myself totally in hopes of making use of some of the moneys i paid into social security over the working years...