Monday, 19 January 2009

Neurological Tests

It's been nearly a week now since I went to Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre to have tests to see if I still have a brain and I know you're all, dear readers, agog (probably not!) to know how I got on.

The appointment was for 9.30 a.m. and the journey time took ages coz the traffic was, well, rush-hour traffic! Anyhoo, we arrived at 9.33, which was a "penguin blog language" miracle and didn't matter coz I was shown to the dayroom and there I languished for yonks! (Funny how hospitals seem to have removed all their clocks and I didn't have my watch coz the blurb accompanying my appointment letter advised against wearing any sort of jewellery.)

After a long and boring sojourn, a nice, kind young porter showed up and led me to the MRI Unit. This was not without its excitement because one of the doors en route was locked and none of the staff's cards would open it. There were people unable to get through from the other side! My porter went off to investigate... I waited... Another bloke showed up and unlocked the door. The general concensus of opinion was that the door should be left open. It was, and I waited... My porter returned and we finally arrived at the MRI Unit.

I waited... and waited... Eventually a chap came out and guided me to where to leave my clothes and put on a hospital gown, saying he would be back in about five minutes.

I waited, and waited some more...

Eventually he came back and the scan proceeded uneventfully, except about five minutes in, "Keep still!". "I am." "No, you're moving." "Sorry! I didn't know I was." ::Thinks, "I'm just breathing." (Breathes more shallowly while wondering how long I can last with so little oxygen)
::. Later... "Penny, are you okay?" "Hurrrrrppphh, gulp, yes." "Okay, keep still or I can't get a clear picture!" ::?!?:: "Okay, sorry!"

Eventually that was over and after another long wait I was guided back to the ward dayroom. After a short wait (yay!) I was taken to another room to have some more tests. They told me what these are called but I can't remember. It sounded like someone's name and all I can think of is Munchausen's, but I know that's not right coz there was nothing by proxy with these tests, hahaha!

The first one involved me looking at a chequerboard pattern with a red rugby ball in the middle, first with one eye, then with the other.

In the second I had wear headphones and listen to clicks in one ear and white noise in the other, then t'other way round.

In the third I had one foot, then the other, electrocuted!
Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhh!!! The doctor told me that this test would be no worse than getting a shock from a car door (something I hate but only lasts about a second) but, dear readers, have you ever touched an electric fence? (I have). And have you ever had to put each foot on that electric fence for, like, five hours (15 minutes or so)? I say again, "Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhh!!! *

Through all these tests I had to "relax" and keep my "mouth open". I'm a tense, twitchy person; and have you ever tried to swallow with your mouth open? On the one hand your mouth feels really dry, but on the other you have saliva dribbling from each corner... Okay, probably too much information!

Eventually that was over and I went back to the ward dayroom. There I met a nice lady who had had to give up her bed temporarily for an outpatient. Guess who? Yup, yours truly.

After another long wait, made more pleasant by conversation with the nice lady, a doctor came in and said that she needed to steal some of my blood and that my lumbar puncture would have to be postponed for at least one and a half hours because that was how long it would take the lab to do the tests. Apparently she had come to steal my bloods before, she thought, I would have gone to MRI, but I'd already gone. Considering I waited for about two weeks before I was taken to MRI, I can only assume she didn't come on duty till later or was busy. Anyhoo, she was very nice and got someone to bring me some lunch. Yay! I was famished! She suggested I went walkabout while waiting for the lp, but not till after she'd returned with a form for me to sign. I waited and my new friend and I chatted...

After an hour or so I needed a pee and a cup of coffee, not necessarily in that order, so I went in search of the coffee machine. In my lost ramblings around the corridors, I espied the doctor who had stolen my bloods. "Hello nice doctor in the green skirt," I said (I hadn't been able to read her name badge before) "Sorry to bother you, but could you point me in the direction of the coffee machine?" "Oh, I was just coming to get you," she said. "The blood tests came back earlier than normal and your clotting is fine, so I'm going to do the procedure now. Follow me." I did and she let me go for a pee while she went to wash her hands.

The nice doctor in the green skirt was very gentle with me and I only felt a few short twinges. The procedure took a little longer than average coz my spinal fluid came out slowly. The NDITGS said this was probably because I am small and my "spaces" are small.

I then had to lie flat for an hour (very boring) and drink loads of water. Have you ever tried to drink through a straw while lying flat? I apologised to my new friend for making her pillow wet. I really hope she does okay. Her hands and feet have gone numb and lost all strength. The doctors don't know why. They think "maybe" it's due to the chemotherapy she had for cancer and will wear off... but they don't really know. Please purr for her. I wish I knew her name.

* From

Evoked potentials (also called evoked response) measure the electrical signals to the brain generated by hearing, touch, or sight. These tests are used to assess sensory nerve problems and confirm neurological conditions including multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, acoustic neuroma (small tumors of the inner ear), and spinal cord injury. Evoked potentials are also used to test sight and hearing (especially in infants and young children), monitor brain activity among coma patients, and confirm brain death.

Testing may take place in a doctor’s office or hospital setting. It is painless and risk-free. Two sets of needle electrodes are used to test for nerve damage. One set of electrodes, which will be used to measure the electrophysiological response to stimuli, is attached to the patient’s scalp using conducting paste. The second set of electrodes is attached to the part of the body to be tested. The physician then records the amount of time it takes for the impulse generated by stimuli to reach the brain. Under normal circumstances, the process of signal transmission is instantaneous.

Auditory evoked potentials (also called brain stem auditory evoked response) are used to assess high-frequency hearing loss, diagnose any damage to the acoustic nerve and auditory pathways in the brainstem, and detect acoustic neuromas. The patient sits in a soundproof room and wears headphones. Clicking sounds are delivered one at a time to one ear while a masking sound is sent to the other ear. Each ear is usually tested twice, and the entire procedure takes about 45 minutes.

Visual evoked potentials detect loss of vision from optic nerve damage (in particular, damage caused by multiple sclerosis). The patient sits close to a screen and is asked to focus on the center of a shifting checkerboard pattern. Only one eye is tested at a time; the other eye is either kept closed or covered with a patch. Each eye is usually tested twice. Testing takes 30-45 minutes.

Somatosensory evoked potentials measure response from stimuli to the peripheral nerves and can detect nerve or spinal cord damage or nerve degeneration from multiple sclerosis and other degenerating diseases. Tiny electrical shocks are delivered by electrode to a nerve in an arm or leg. Responses to the shocks, which may be delivered for more than a minute at a time, are recorded. This test usually lasts less than an hour.”

Sorry this is so long but hope it gave you a giggle!


:) xxx


Babs (Beetle) said...

I never giggle at anything to do with needles and hospitals. You poor thing! I hope you get all good results from the tests. Let us know :O)

StandTall-The Activist said...

I am sure all the results will came out without us having anything to worry about. It appeared you were there for a whole day

We Purring for our friend, the numbness will disappear in no time

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Holy cow, what an odyssey! I hope to hear that all the tests come back with good news.

Cheysuli and gemini said...

Wow. What a long day. Numbness in the extremities is not unheard of after chemo, much like your new friend had. We've seen people for that.

We hope that after the ordeal all your tests come out good.

Jan's Funny Farm said...

Wonder why it is always hurry up and wait for the patient? That doesn't sound like any fun.

We hope you get some good news back on your tests. We know you have a brain. :) We hope it's healthy.

Daisy said...

Oh my goodness, what an ordeal! You are so brave. Now comes the next hardest part: waiting and waiting for the results! Thanks for telling us the story.

Anonymous said...

You turned the story into a giggle but I'm sure it wasn't much fun. Not sure what is worse the tests or waiting for the results.

Thought this might give YOU a giggle?



When you look at your investments and wet your pants.


Black Cat said...

Hahaha GG! Been there, changed the underwear since hearing the latest bonkybankness today! Gordon Brown, why are you only guaranteeing £50,000 refund to us little people if our banks go under, but billions of £s to the banks (yet again)? ::Sigh...::.

Luvzya GG! Get a blog, you'd be great! :) xxx

William said...

Oh my, the action parts made my mom cringe! I think my tail is puffed out, too. I would have just napped during the wait times.

Karen Jo said...

My, they certainly put you through a lot of waiting and then a lot of testing. I hope everything turns out all right. I have tagged you for a meme.

Everycat said...

Gosh that was an ordeal. You did well to make it humorous. Best wishes for good test results. You must be exhausted now!

Rumbly purrs

Whicky Wuudler

JB's Big World said...

That does not sound like fun at all. I hope the tests come out ok for you!

Boy n Beethoven said...

Ouch...all those made me think of mine visit to the V-E-T. You were so nice. I was wike scweaming the pwace down. Maybe you should too.


Ramses said...

Goodness it seems that you and my Grammy are having all the tests that the VETS can possibly do to a person! :( I will purr that you're ok once they find out what's going on. My Mummy has some nerve damage that has caused a good deal of numbness in some places and pain in others - she's just waiting for them to be able to switch 'em around for a bit! ;)


twenty pound tabby said...

Oh dear, I've had all those tests, although not all on the same day! Each one of those takes quite a bit of time! My last MRI took 2 1/2 hours. The electrocuted feet and arms took hours and the lumbar puncture took a long time too. I can't imagine doing all that in one day.
Do you know what they're looking for? Some of those tests are for peripheral nerve damage and some are for central nervous system damage.

Anonymous said...

"Oh My" You've been through alot.I will be praying all goes well(Hugs)

Anonymous said...