Wednesday, April 20, 2005

They probably just think I'm stupid

For quite a few months now, I have been in an "exchange" with the Social Security office to try to collect disability. I've been rejected a couple of times, which, we've been told is pretty normal for the Social Security office. But, they decided to send me for some neuro-psychological tests this past Monday I guess to assess "my disability". I've had these tests before and they are difficult but I had to I went.

The tests were suppose to last three hours. They began at 10:00 a.m. and didn't end until five hours later! We had no lunch break and I had one rest room break. They kept asking me if I wanted a rest room break but I settled for one during the five hours.

Now, think about it, it is very difficult for anyone to sit and take tests for five hours, let alone someone that has Alzheimer's. The last time I took these tests (for my original diagnosis) it was done over two sessions both lasting about two hours.

The tests I had done Monday were done at the UGA Psychology clinic and were administered by a grad student. (My nephew is studying for his doctorate in psychology so I kept envisioning him sitting across the table from me.) The sessions were videotaped and we were also in a room that had a two way mirror for observation. I felt like I was in a police precinct (although I have never been in one, it looks like those interrogation rooms from television).

The tests started off with me telling them a little about my condition and the things I could not do. Then of course, most of the tests were "things I can no longer do" -- like math for example. I just can't do that sort of thing -- in my head or on paper. It was all being timed so I didn't get many answers right. After doing a bunch of memory tests and sequencing tests they then moved on to vocabulary and general knowledge questions. I must admit that after about two and a half hours I probably couldn't have told you my name at that point, let alone who Cleopatra was or who the President of the United States was during the Civil War. Many times when I confessed to not knowing I was prompted for a guess. I'm sure they thought I was being a smart a** but I wasn't.....I was tired and cranky and just couldn't go on.

I'm not stupid......but how do they know I'm not stupid? These tests are designed to try to find me employment.....I can see them coming back and saying she can work...."she's just stupid". Alzheimer's certainly makes you feel stupid and many of us fight that all the time. We have to keep reminding ourselves that it isn't us --- it's the Alzheimer's. When you're tired it is hard to distinguish the two.

I was so exhausted when I got home (and I'm lucky I could get home on my own), that I fell asleep in the chair, couldn't carry on a conversation with my husband, went to bed at 7:30 and slept until 6 the next morning. The next day I was still dragging and not thinking real clearly.

I was talking with someone at the Alzheimer's Association in Atlanta yesterday and relaying this information to them. When I told her that "they probably just think I'm stupid".....she said that sounded like a title to a book. And it could be.

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