Life In The Slow Lane...
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San Diego, CA, United States
This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Fourth Percentile

I've learned a few things since this whole ordeal transpired. One of those lessons learned; I have to take the good with the bad. On Wednesday, I met with my neurologist to find out how I scored on my neuro-psych tests. While taking those tests, I was disappointed in my performance. It took me four tries to remember twelve words, I couldn't remember images easily, my hands trembled slightly as I tried to align small metal pegs into position. I convinced myself that my condition was deteriorating. I felt helpless.

When I went into see my neurologist that day, I prepared myself for the worst. I must have looked like I had a major case of Restless Leg Syndrome as I sat in my chair listening to information about my injury, blunt trauma to the frontal lobe of my brain. Then came the results. Surprisingly, I scored above average among a peer group of 100 people with the same age and similar education. I was stunned. My leg stopped bouncing for a split second. Finally the proof I needed that I was a genius before the fall. And then came the bad news. My leg started to bounce. I came in fourth from the bottom in visual memory. Also, my ability to adapt to new situations, to "switch gears" was affected from the swelling in my brain. My neurologist said these were things that would probably return, though there is no definite way of knowing for sure. My leg bounced faster. Minutes later, out meeting ended.

A few days later, during another meeting, my therapist asked me some personal questions. The bounce in my leg returned. She asked whether I was anxious and why. She asked if I had a problem with anxiety in the past. I told her yes, that I've always been a bit anxious, but it was never serious. I never had any panic attacks, just a bleeding ulcer. Later she told me she wanted to enroll me in classes to deal with anxiety. I agreed, reluctantly, my leg bouncing the entire time.

That's the thing about this condition, about these evaluations. There's no accounting for the past. Looking back, I was never able to remember twelve words like the ones given to me during the tests, blame it on past drug use, or my poor focus. Also, I was always anxious. And in spite of my amazing intelligence, I never scored high on tests. These things aren't direct results from the fall, though, they might have worsened from it, these characteristics were always there and it appears to me they always will be. After leaving rehab that day, I started thinking about ranking in the fourth percentile and why I considered it such bad news. I began to realize; in some subjects I never was much better than the bottom of the pack.

1 comment:

  1. As your wife I would like to add in addition to your "amazing intelligence" you have always also possessed an enormous amount of modesty and humility!