Assessing the Damage

Where do we begin? The day before yesterday we were subjected to 5.5 hours of psychological testing.  We feel as though our brain has been raped.  Still triggered by some of the questions they asked me.  Still in a state of panic about the whole situation.  I went in not knowing what to expect. I certainly never dreamed it would be an all-day process which would leave me raw and damaged and in a state of despair.  I want to tell you about the tests.  I want to explain what they did to me, what they asked me to do, what sorts of problems they had me to solve.  But it’s all just a jumbled mess in my mind now.  Too much information is swimming around in the sea of my conscience.  I feel overwhelmed, overloaded, and overstimulated.  Much like I felt while taking the tests…. In fact, I felt so completely in over my head that visual imagery was too much for me to handle and so for most of the testing I had to sit with  my eyes closed.  I just couldn’t handle the sight of the doctors, the notes, the recording devices.  Paranoia is my constant companion and boy was it off the charts during all of this.  I was fearful long before I ever arrived at the Hospital for Psychiatric Medicine, fearful because I had no real idea of why my doctor was sending me there.  I feared she was trying to dump me off onto another shrink.  I thought maybe she’d decided I was just more than she could handle and she was passing me off to a more experienced psychiatrist.  Well, that turned out to be only partially true.  She DOES need help with me; We’re a very complex case and she is not sure which direction to take our therapy work.  So she’s called in the big dogs.  The professional shrinks with decades of experience.  She’s asked for a consultation with 3 different psychiatrists and psychologists.   She is asking for their help.  I was told that she was NOT in fact dumping me; she was just trying to learn how to better treat my condition.

My condition.  Nobody put a name to it as of yet, at least none of these big city doctors.  I’m guessing my psychiatrist just needs some validation from her peers; she needs to know she’s pursuing the proper path.  All I know is what they tell me.  They being the voices in my head, in my reality, in “Kellie World”.  The voices tell me that a different K took the test than the K who drove to the testing site.  Apparently we switched while we were sitting in that little closet-sized room, faced with pages and pages of forms and questions to fill out.  There were no windows in the little room.  Just me, the papers, and a doctor with whom I could not and would not make eye contact.  Actually, I never even looked at her at all.  I was aware she was there, of course, but I avoided her and would not let my eyes take her in.  Perhaps part of us thought that would make her more “real” and we didn’t want that situation to be real.  Oh if only it were a dream that we had.  But no.  I know for a fact it took over 5 hours because I took someone with me and he had to sit alone in the waiting room all that time.  If I had any concept of time at all, I would’ve felt guilty for making him wait so long.  But I was unable to gauge just how long I was sitting in that little room. Ten minutes? Two hours? Not a clue.  Everything just bled together….the sights, the sounds, the movements, the people, the clock ticking…

So now I suppose I should tell you what the test was like.  Well, it was different than any psych test I’ve had before.  Much more intensive.  I was given blank pieces of paper, shown an image of a design, then asked to draw the design onto the piece of paper.  I did pretty well with that at first (K is an artist after all) but once the designs became more and more complex, I lost it and was unable to remember what to draw.  I turned in several pieces of blank paper I’m afraid to admit.  The next part of the test was like putting puzzles together.  They gave me small wooden blocks, one side white, one side red, one side both colors.  Then I was shown pictures of designs made from the blocks and asked to duplicate them.  Again, this started out easy. K’s really good with puzzles.  The first test used 4 blocks….The final test used 12 blocks.  Yeah, that was much harder to do, but I think we did pretty all right.  Next part of the test involved showing me drawings of various objects, and pictures of people.  I was asked to find what was missing in each picture.  One was easy-a rung was missing from a ladder-but the rest were hard.  In fact, I could find nothing missing in many of the pictures.  So I feel as though we didn’t do too well on that part of the test.  I wonder what the hell that particular test is supposed to show anyway.  Whatever.

Next came a barrage of questions.  Questions about my childhood. Questions about my family.  Questions about school, work, friends, pets, likes and dislikes.  Then things turned into something of an IQ test.  I was asked the capital of Italy and the location of the Sahara Desert.  The doctor inquired about history and geography and at one point asked me who wrote Sherlock Holmes.  All of these questions were fairly simple for us.  We were a good student throughout our schooling.  I have to admit though, that our memory problems have eaten away at our knowledge, and there was one or two questions which I knew the answers to but which I simply could not remember when put on the spot.  So I don’t know if we did well or not so well.  I don’t know what difference it makes anyway.  Knowing who was president during the Civil War does not prove a person’s level of logic or sanity.  My attorney thinks all these tests were just a load of crap.  Yes, I was so paranoid about the possibility of being placed on a 72 hour hold at the hospital that I took my attorney with me.  Sound ridiculous? Perhaps. But I was glad he was there.  It made me feel protected, safe, untouchable.  When I didn’t return after 5 hours, he approached the receptionist and said, “Excuse me, but my client has been gone a long time. I’d like to know where she is and what is being done to her.”  Boy, that lady scrambled to make a phone call to track me down 2 floors up and told the doctors that my lawyer was asking questions.  The test was over shortly after that.  So I’m thinking my attorney saved my ass from an even longer testing process.  But god- 5 1/2 hours of tests!  It’s enough to make anyone crack.  Perhaps that was their goal-to see if they could break me.  But I held in there and toughened up and stuck it out and in the end I answered all their silly questions and worked all their puzzles and drew all their pictures…  Now we wait.  Wait for the assessment to be over.  I have an appointment with my regular psychiatrist on Monday, and I have to admit I’m nervous about it.  What in the world is she going to say?  What has she learned from all of these tests?  Am I still her patient?  Will I end up in the hospital after everything is said and done? God only knows. I’m just glad the tests are over. For now at least.

The last thing the doctors told me before I left is that I’ll be returning to the hospital for even more testing.  They are going to call me Monday and tell me when my next assessment is; sometime next week.  What in the hell could they possibly ask me that they haven’t already?? At any rate, we are scared.  More tests must mean they have more concerns.  What is the point of all of this? Why, after 2 years of therapy, is my doctor subjecting me to this torment?!  All I can say is that my brain is exhausted, my mind is blown, and my mood is erratic.  Writing all this down has only served to make me feel anxious and panicky. Guess I better go take my meds and try and calm down.  Maybe close my eyes and float away…

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