During Wednesday’s Neuropsychology tutorial the guest teacher Jamie impersonated patients so that we could administer tests and come up with diagnoses. It was one of the most fun classes of the semester. For each of the three imaginary patients we were given the same information: She is 65-years old and her family has been complaining that she has trouble remembering things and performing day to day tasks. Her life history is that she has had nine years of education, that she worked at her family’s corner store until she got married at age 21, after which she worked at a RV Park with her husband until he passed away one year ago. Her son is her closest relative. The stipulations were that each class member got to ask the son one question, and we each got to ask the patient one question, along with administering standardized tests. We also got to name the patients/sons. The first characters were: “Bob” and “Mary” and Jamie said that those are almost always amongst the first names.
It was obvious upon interviewing Mary that she did not remember what had happened five minutes ago, and that semantic memory was impaired (for instance, she called cornflakes “golden crunch bits.”) Her results on word memory tests showed that she had an encoding problem, indicating hippocampal damage, and her copy of the Rey Osterrith Complex Figure showed constructional errors relating to a suspected disturbance in the parietal lobe. Although the brain scans were purportedly normal, hippocampal damage can be difficult to pick up in an MRI due to the angles of the scan. The hippocampus was obviously damaged in this case and based off of behavioral evidence – the class was certain that imaginary-Mary had Alzheimer’s Dementia.
The next patient was “Joe” with her son “Thomas.” The verdict from both characters was that Joe was severely depressed after the death of her husband, and had some memory disorder that was either caused by, or went along with the depression. The class’s verdict was a probable case of Depressive Psuedo Dementia.
Betty was the last patient, and her damaged orbitofrontal cortex was a relief after the heaviness left in the room from Jamie’s convincing portrayal of depression. There was a lag before anyone came up with the son’s name, so I suggested the name primed in my mind: “Clarence Clancy Jr.” I felt vindicated when the room began to roar with laughter and asked: “What do we call him for short?” So it was that CCJ began to tell us of his mother’s troubles. Betty had been arrested for shoplifting some fifteen years prior, and this marked her decline into socially inappropriate behavior. Betty was drawing boobs on the dry-erase board when the first question was asked: “How are you feeling.” To which Betty replied: “ I was bored until I saw you handsome, now I’m feeling just fiiiiiine.” She was distracted by the things in her immediate surroundings and spent the interview spinning on her chair, turning the lights on and off, and going into descriptions of her sex life. When it was my turn I challenged her to attend to the rest of the interview/test, because it was “all about her.” This held up until the standardized tests, which were wrought with evidence of short-term memory loss, erratic executive function, and obsessive behavior such as repeating phrases and turning everything into a rhythmic pattern. Betty was diagnosed with Fronto-Temporal Dementia, but one wonders if she didn’t always have some orbitofrontal disturbance, naming her son “Clarence Clancy Jr.” and all.
When it’s afternoon in Australia it’s bedtime back home. Sometimes I get to have bedtime chats with my mom via facebook:
G: Shit fire! He’s all over the world, and is going into a museum, but he’s outside repairing stucco in the wind. He liked my paintings, too. I’ll send you the photos.
M: Of him liking your paintings?
G: Yeah! He was all bent over in the wind, liking my paintings, and I got a snap shot with the camera I don’t have. I’m laughing at my own self now.
G: wha? You kids need to use your words.
M: Have you been painting any more paintings? Painting paintings lately?.
G: I’ve started another big one, but I’ve been too busy to work on it much lately.
M: Cool, what’s it of?
G: It’s a big silver one, and I’m doing a graphite wash over it. It’s a side view of Heather’s rusty cake pan. Also, Weird James told me how to make my own rust: Dissolve steel wool in vinegar. Hee-Haw! He paints with it, and I aim to do the same.
G: I’m going to send you the photos of all my paintings. The gingerbread pan is on it’s side, and Heather’s cake pan is upside down. I haven’t managed to manipulate those accordingly yet, but whatever. I’ll send it to you right now. I love you, and I’m glad we get to talk online. Take care of your teeth, and I’ll see you in the morning. Say, that reminds me: Did I tell you about the dream I had the other night where I gave birth to twins, one girl and one boy, and I was trying to figure out how to nurse both of them at the same time so neither of them would ever want for anything, and they were both bathed in blue light, and as I was holding them to my chest, they were speaking French to each other, which I couldn’t understand?
M: Whoa, that’s crazy. You’ll definitely be a famous artist in that case.
G: I think so. Nodia says the dream is about giving birth to my new life, and not understanding the language quite yet.
M: Also, since it’s French that’s bonus points in style.
G: I’m going to the gym in the morning, and I need a good nights sleep. Take good care, I love you sooooo much.
M: I love you too! Have sweet dreams, good luck learning French!
|(The Paintings are all from my mom’s “Rusty Pan” collection)
Roomate #4 and I were yelling at the internet. There was an insistent knock at the door. It was three Aussie boys, all in suit-jackets, two with accompanying bow-ties/cummerbunds, and one with a Hawaiian shirt, boxers, and tall socks. “I’m so sorry” boy #1 said about five times, I stood in the doorway and laughed. “We heard tons of girls yelling,” Boy #2 said, “but you two were just skyping each other from across the table.” “Oh no, they’re doing homework!” said Boy #3, followed by: “We’re drunk.” Boy #1 sat down and started to read the blog post I was working on out loud: “There happened to be a cake waiting for us when we arrived…” He trailed off, not being able to pronounce “cherry jam.” “What are you drinking?” asked boy #3. I told him it was hot chocolate; it was just in a jar because we don’t own cups at apartment 49. Naturally I was then challenged to a Goon battle. Naturally I was a victor at said Goon battle. (Isn’t it funny how I capitalize Goon?) The new friends invited us to a party at 114, I was grabbing my Flying Silver Tiger when Boy #1 whispered the secrets of the party at 114 in my ear (“It’s gonna be lame, I wouldn’t turn up if I were you”). I decided to write my blog instead.
Roommate #5 stumbled in singing: “Party rockers in the house tonight, everybody just have a good time!” Then he spilled beer on the carpet. I reprimanded him: “clean the floor, and while you’re at it, eat your fucking raisons, they’re good for you!” “You’re such a terrible roommate!” he cried as he scrubbed the floor with a dishtowel. It was then that I figured out why our dishtowels always smell so bad. Roommate #5 then related tales of hooking up with four girls on the bus over to the city. In the city it was raining and it was a “shit show.” “It’s all about the journey,” I commented. “Good talk” he said, as he ran out the door with a piece of white bread and the half of his beer that remained.
Someone ought to make a fragrance, which smells of weed, beach, and sex, and call it: “Spring Break.”
The last Thursday of spring break I went to the music lab early and worked until late. Actually I only worked until around 6:00 pm, but 8 hours of straight headphone-to-skull means a lot of proud beat-warping, and red ears. I was listening to “Nyamaopra” by Mhuri Yekwarizi Ensemble when I arrived at a glass door named “42.” I kept a stick of burning Incense company, until Adhit appeared, freshly showered and surprised by my presence in his room.
“Do you want to go to Wollongong?” He inquired, giving me a piece of deluxe cheesecake he had made after reading someone’s food-blog. “Well it is the last inkling of spring-break!” I responded. So it was that we hopped in his blue-car called “Charade,” acquired the finest falafel in suburbia, rode through infinite mirror-loops to liquor-stores, and stopped on roadsides to admire star-skies on mountain highways.
There happened to be a cake waiting for us when we arrived, which was served with tea, apples, and homemade yogurt/black cherry jam. I pet Adhit’s cute and stinky dog and was treated to a brief mum-hug. His mom is an artist, with a studio full of emotive paintings. The two of us spoke between the lines about art and dreams.
Adhit’s room was slightly messy, with a blue wall that matches the tone of his voice, a surfboard leaned up against it. I got to stay in his sister’s comfy bed, in a room of green, awoken each morning to a hot cup of tea and some sort of delicious breakfast. Adhit ought to market this kind of “Aussie Experience Tour” for Americans like me who refer to “mid semester break” as “spring break.” Together we soaked up the Wollongong lifestyle, meeting with old new friends in forts, bushwalking in pseudo rainforest, eating mulberries outside of drug-houses, and getting kicked out of stormy sea by lifeguards and waves alike.
I am not too invested in worrying these days, but one thing I was thinking about a fair bit was how I might feed myself with only a heap of change ($12 AUD) for X amount of future. On this adventure I no longer had cause for worry. I was completely taken care of. Each day spilled into the next and I ended up staying in Wollongong for five days. Adhit is a domestic goddess and did his best to fashion my blog into a food-blog. His happiness meter past maximum capacity, having passed his physiotherapy placement he stood on the precipice of five free weeks. My miniature vacation mirrored Adhit’s new found freedom. It is sweet to spend limitless hours riding hedonistic whims and salty to style one’s hair with endless waves at sea.
Letter from mom:
Phew! Thanks for letting me know you’ve got food. Seriously, I’ve been wracked with some weird “beyond-my-control-child-is-far-away-and-I-can’t-feed-them” illness for days. I know you’re a big grown up with your own resources, on top of which you’ve got two lovers who would probably give you grocery money, or at least a good dinner, but I will probably never get over the innate need to feed you. It’s the animal in me, I guess.
I washed your car today, and took it out on a nice little run about town. Damn, that thing is fun to drive, and it’s so stylish and cute when it’s clean! I was pissed that Noah lost my ipod charger somewhere, and killed the battery on my ipod using it last week, because the radio was sucking in many different languages today. The shit they were playing on KSFR and KUNM, which is normally just some kind of jazz, ranging between crap and greatness, was, during my hour of listening enjoyment, a mix of out of control vomit. It was a fire hose of puke, and I don’t mean that in a good way. It wasn’t some bebop noise or silverware drawer music, which I like, it was white people trying to sing the blues with fake Mississippi accents, talking about their guitars being “women.” Fuck! They couldn’t even play their guitars, and their lyrics were as stupid as can be. It’s a good thing I hadn’t eaten lunch, or I would have lost it. And when they weren’t playing that shit, it was the BBC news, (Horrors from Around the World), or the local news where they read the front page of the New Mexican to us for ten minutes. Not only that, I made the mistake of thinking I could drive down Cerrillos Road and actually get to my destination, (Artisan). But, as we like to say around here, “you can’t get there from here.” That whole side of Cerrillos Rd. is a big pile of dirt, and there’s no left or right turn allowed.
It’s fun to rant about the amazingly small inconveniences of our little city. They don’t amount to a hill of beans, which of course, is what’s for dinner.
I love you,