And so begins an awkward conversation with well-intentioned friends and colleagues. I know how to answer the question – sort of – but responding almost certainly requires me to veer into TMI territory. I am comfortable talking about what I have been through and what I face next. It helps me. But I am not a mind reader so I don’t always know how much people can handle or truly want to know.
If I have already told you too much, or if you were just being polite, I’m sorry…kind of. Not really.
It’s the third time the neurologist has said the list aloud, asking me to repeat the words back to him. I get three words right the first two times and on the third, I remember four of the five.
‘Wagon’ eludes me. It isn’t on the tip of my tongue. I am not close to spitting out the word. I feel as if I am blindfolded in the woods, grasping in all directions for some sense of where I am. I couldn’t even guess what letter that fifth word starts with.
I can feel my brain contracting, pulsing and squeezing like a muscle as I try to jump through the cognitive hoops the medical and psychological professionals present to me.
On the forth round, I hit “sandwich” and then pause. It’s a long pause. I somehow find ‘wagon.’ None of the visualization techniques or mnemonics I would normally use to remember things are working. Instead, I find wagon because I suddenly heard in my head the somewhat awkward way the doctor said the clunky word.