Thursday, December 12, 2013

Concussion and Memory Loss

At the risk of sounding boastful, I've always had a good memory, and an above average ability to concentrate.  When I returned to college as an adult, I was a straight A student.  My 4.0 GPA turned into a 3.98 only because of a B I'd gotten in a required phys ed class, tennis.   My college professors graded on a curve, but they'd throw out my score on each exam because I not only answered all of the questions correctly, but also the bonus questions.  I don't think it was because I was smarter than everyone else, I think it was because I worked harder than everyone else.  I was a classic over achiever.

After graduation, I was hired as a COBOL programmer by a local software firm in Saratoga Springs.  I was so good at concentrating and focusing on what I was doing, that oftentimes someone would walk up behind me and speak to me and I wouldn't hear them.  I would be so wrapped up into what I was doing that I was oblivious to what was happening around me.

As we get older, we tend to slow down a bit and get a little forgetful.  We misplace our glasses and car keys, and it's no big deal.  That would happen to me occasionally.  On August 27th, though,I had an accident.  I was knocked silly by a falling tree, sending me off to Albany Medical Center.  While there, I was visited by several doctors, each asking if I had a headache.  No, I don't have a headache.  They were amazed.  Besides being cut up on the top of my head by tree bark, I had a concussion.

When you don't have health insurance, hospital financial aid offices require you to jump through hoops.  First, they wanted to see if I qualified for Medicaid.  The income limit for a family of two in New York is $937 a month.  Nope, don't qualify.  My income was too much.  Seriously?  There are couples trying to live on less than $937 a month?

Next, they want to see if you qualify for social security disability, which would enable me to enroll in Medicare even though I'm not 65 yet.  Two weeks ago, I was summoned to Albany to be examined by a physician.  On Thursday, I had a telephone call from the office to return.

"We have a cancellation tomorrow at 2:30," said Theresa the scheduler.

"For what?  I've already had a physical," said I.

"You said you had some memory problems, so they want you to come back to see our psychologist."

A psychologist?  Well, I have noticed that I've had some memory issues since the concussion, more so than normal.  I couldn't work on our property for many weeks, so I spent a lot of time watching DVD movies.  Recently, I'd look on our movie shelf and see a movie that I was sure I must have watched, but I couldn't remember it.  So I'd watch it again.  I felt like the epitome of those bad jokes about Alzheimer's... I'd only have to own one book, and one movie... and I could hide my own Easter eggs.

On Friday, I traveled to Albany to see the shrink.  He gave me memory tests.  He'd rattle off names of things and strings of numbers and ask me to repeat them.  I had no problem doing this.  He's give me a series of numbers and ask me to repeat them backwards.  No problem there either.  The psychologist explained that one side effect of a consussion can be cognitive impairment.   I'm not sure what he meant by that.

Thank God for Google.  The old fart's memory crutch.

No comments:

Post a Comment