On Friday, February 27th, I take Dad to the doctor for his biannual memory test.
The purpose of the test is to determine if the Canadian government should continue funding the costly memory medication. He needs to score low enough to demonstrate diminished capacity but not to fall so low as to be considered too far gone.
As I believe this medication has been successful at slowing Dad’s memory loss, it is an important test.
The doctor asks, “What’s the date today?”
Dad says, “I’m not sure. It’s March, isn’t it?”
“What day of the week is it?”
“I don’t know,” says Dad.
“What season is it?”
“It’s the beginning of fall, isn’t it?” says Dad.
“What floor are we on?”
“This one,” says Dad.
The doctor laughs and says, “I’m not sure how to score that one.”
He then tells Dad to remember three words for later: apple, table, penny.
Next, he hands Dad a pen and paper and asks him to write a sentence.
Dad pulls back his arms and looks defiant. He says that he’s never had good handwriting and that it isn’t about the dementia. The doctor reassures him and Dad writes a sentence. He goes for a complex sentence rather than a simple subject, verb, object and gets confused halfway through.
“What were the three words I told you before?” asks the doctor.
“Apple, table,” says Dad, “I can’t remember the other one.”
Impressed, the doctor hands him a new piece of paper. This one has a large circle on it.
“Draw a clock,” says the doctor.
Dad draws lines on the circle like a knife cutting up pieces of pie, and asks, “Is this what you mean?”
The doctor clarifies and Dad starts again.
He writes the number one at the top of the circle and then continues along the inner edge finishing with the number twelve where the number seven is meant to be.
The doctor looks at me and I feel a lump in my throat.
We take the scenic route home, stopping in front of the driveway of his old bachelor pad, The Swamp, on the old Pat Bay Highway.
And the stories begin.