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Life Lessons from Reading

21 May 2014

Ever since I can remember my mom has been a reader. It's always a guessing game as to how many books she'll bring home from the library. At times it's been as high as 10! She even will take out audio books and listen to those in the car, or bring a magazine to read while waiting in line at the market. Although her hardcover books are usual of the murder mystery genre, her magazines and audio books almost always have a scientific, medical or animal-related focus. (She just loves to continually learn facts.)

She's always had little tidbits from these audio books and magazines that she shares. One of the latest audio books, which I had the chance to listen to while driving with her to visit my grandmother, is very interesting. It's called Brain on Fire and it's written by Susannah Cahalan.

So far, we've learned that she was your average girl in her mid-20's. She began to have hallucinations, seemed Bi-Polar, had numbness on her left side and later had speech issues. She forgets all the things that happened in this time period, so the information stems from family notes and doctor's records. All of her tests came back negative except for her white blood cell count, which meant there was an infection or inflammation somewhere. Eventually it got to the point where she was in the hospital, at times acting catatonic, and with no end in sight. Doctors couldn't figure out her issue, and at times she seemed to get better but would then do a 180, knocking needles out of doctors' hands and having inappropriate emotional responses.

The point we're at now in the audio book seems to show that there might be a light at the end of this tunnel. She now has a new doctor on her team that knows she is somewhere inside her body. After looking through her medical history, a new doctor decided to do a simple test that is used on patients with mental disorders and dementia to pinpoint where in the brain their issue might be stemming from-- The Clock Test. She was instructed to draw a clock by hand using her memory, and in the end all of her numbers were scrunched to the right side. This could explain why she has no feeling on her left side, some speech issues (which got to the point of monopthizing all words and breaking them into one-syllable segments) as well as pinpoint where her inflammation might've been.
That's as far as we are now... but it's quite amazing how the body can work that way. You'll have to read the rest for yourself to figure out what happens and to see what caused these strange behaviors in such a short amount of time!

Here are some examples of The Clock Test:
Photo credit: http://www.memozor.com/memory-tests/the-clock-drawing-test


Besides the severe speech issues, she also demonstrated precipitative dysgraphia, which they described as her need to sometimes re-tracing certain words or symbols over-and-over. For example, when doing the clock test she traced the number "3" several times.  I found that an interesting disorder/symptom.

Some life lessons to take from this:
-Always read and strive to learn more
-Don't judge a patient solely on their outward expressions
-Sometimes simple tests and procedures can give the solution
-Look at the whole picture, not just several parts
-Don't give up at first glance; Progress takes time