I ran into the Neuropsychologist in the Cafeteria today where he was buying a cold drink and I was looking for a euro coin I needed for the washing machine in the basement. I asked him could I swap he euro coin for two fifties. Both the woman at the counter and the neuropsychologist were laughing at me because of my one-euro-coin-for-the-washing-machine. So much so they were looking for the ‘hidden camera’. – I must be loosing my German sense of humour, I thought.
Her accident happened about 10 years ago. Today she can walk (with help and support), she travels with her therapist, she drinks, she smokes, she has a tattoo on her arms, she comes into the therapy centre once a week, and she came over to see Pádraig.
Anyway, it was a conversation starter that led to the neuropsychologist bringing me down the stairs into the basement and into a lab I’d never been to before. It was occupied by a researcher working with high-density EEGs, as well as with other sophisticated gadgets used to detect or stimulate brain activity.
We have a family PIN number. Today, out of the blue, we asked Pádraig for this four digit number. Now, this was not rehearsed, it wasn’t prompted, and it was the first time since the accident that we asked Pádraig for that number. He also remembered the very special date we use as a security combination to unlock our voicemail. He bleeped it for us. – None of this we had rehearsed before. He just remembered these numbers, recalled them, and shared them with us. Incredible.
The project the researcher is working on currently aims to diagnose severely brain-injured persons, to bring down the terrible raingte of mis-diagnosis that allows doctors to ship-off patients into a low maintenance programme where they ‘live’ on nutrition, hydration and medicine – when it is well known that 40% to 60% of those diagnosed as being in a vegetative state are, in fact, conscious.
His HD EEG has 256 contact points (when a ‘normal’ EEG has, in contrast, just 20-30 electrodes). Remember, the NRH does not have an EEG but has to book patients into other hospitals in case an EEG is needed.
Today was the last day of the F.O.T.T. course I partially attended and Pádraig was participating in as a patient. I think Pádraig enjoyed the ‘craic’ of a multi-disciplinary team of four working with him on his position, his swallowing, and his mouth and tongue movements.
As a small ‘thank you’, they gave him a beautiful flower.