Thursday, June 21, 2007

Neurological Tests

I've just returned from UCLA for my first round of tests. This time, it was just 'standard' tests to determine if any of my language and/or logic functions have been impaired by the tumor, and to establish a baseline, in case we'll need to do the sleep/awake procedure during surgery.

The tests themselves were pretty basic: Repeat the sentence I say; Define the words I say; Read and repeat this sentence; Why does the government collect taxes (good question, in some cases!); is the sister of your wife's brother's aunt a man or woman?; Can you drive nails with a saw? Name as many animals as you can in 60 seconds; What is this a picture of (horse, star, asparagus stalk, etc.)?

Those were easy. But there were a couple tests I struggled with (not sure if I would have without the tumor!). The first was a series of words, written in different colors:


There was a whole page of these. I had to read the color (not the word) as fast as I could without making a mistake. Then I had to repeat the exercise, reading the word (not the color). That was easier.

The next was naming as many words - not proper nouns - that started with a given letter. The first letter she gave me was "A," and I did pretty good for about 30 seconds, then went blank for 5 seconds or so, until I came up with another category of "A" words. We repeated this test 3 times, and I had a pause each time. That was a litte disconcerting.

The hardest test for me was repeating a series of numbers. It wasn't too bad when I could repeat them in the same order the testor recited them - I did pretty good up to six numbers. But then she asked me to repeat them backwards, and I didn't do very well beyond 4 or 5 numbers.

I'm not sure what to make of all this, but I think there's reason to suspect that the tumor may be causing some mild impairment. Of course, the hope is that surgery will correct everything! One of my prayer requests is that this test is 100% accurate, so as to ensure the best possible outcome, and I do have confidence that this prayer has been answered!

I don't know if I'll hear any results of these tests prior to the functional MRI next week. Somehow, the doctors will correlate them with the FMRI and come up with a map of my speech area in relation to my tumor. Then, if necessary, more precise measurements will be made during surgery when I'm awakened and asked some of these same questions.

I also had a chance to learn a little more about the sleep/awake procedure during a discussion with the neurologist who oversaw the testing. She was very nice and explained everything in detail. She told me exactly what to expect when I woke up - the sensation of thirst, scratchy throat (from the breathing tube), maybe some minor pain around the incision (controllable with local anesthetic), etc. She told me what I'd see (blue tent, the neurologist assisting the surgeon looking at me), and who would be talking to me (the neurologist and the surgeon), and what they would be asking.

I'm the kind of person that likes to know lots of details, so all this was very reassuring.

I'm happy things are moving, now. We're making progress. Next week will be a big week with a lot more tests. And then the following Monday is my surgery. Not a minute too soon!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for continuing to post on this blog because it's amazing to see what God is doing through this trial. I have meditating on this verse in James lately and it made me think of you. I love you my brother and I am praying for you and your family!


Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. James 1: 2-3.

Anonymous said...


You are an inspirational person. Showing us how to face life tests with grace and endurance. Thanks for keep us posted.