A consummate musician, chemistry major and widely respected teacher (shown here in a school photo from the 1990s), my mother's lifetime of accomplishments now lives in the shadows of her memory loss. Still, all is not lost.
We don't make this plain to her, but one of the primary reasons for her every-other-month visits is so that the doc can assess how Mom's dementia is progressing over time. Among other basic tests, he routinely asks her some simple questions, such as "What day is it today?" or "Do you happen to know the date?"
Now, I know for a fact that my mom's memory loss severely limits her ability to hold on to calendar data like that. She's in the middle stages of this horribly progressive disease, and these days, she often gets confused about whether it's day-time or night. So it was with anxiety that I awaited news of how Mom handled herself this time around.
My elder brother, who accompanies her to these appointments, gave me a report on the medical side of the visit, but in order to find out about Mom's memory tests, I went straight to the source.
* * * * *
So, Mom, how was your appointment today? Did Dr Morrison ask you what day it was?
Yes, he sure did.
And you knew the correct day and date?
Of course, I did.
Oh, good for you.
I just did what I always do when I go to see him.
Oh really? Tell me what you do.
Well, he always asks me those same questions. So when I'm in the waiting room, just before it's time to go back, I ask your brother to tell me the day and the date. And then I say them over and over in my head till the doctor asks me, and I can easily remember.
* * * * *
So is my mother a confused and simple-minded dementia sufferer? Or is she a bloody genius?
You be the judge.