Wednesday, February 1, 2012

5th Percentile? Ouch.

Yesterday was so much fun! I got the chance to paint the nails of a 100 year old woman, Margaret. She grew up in Cashmere, then in Anacortes, and finished high school in North Bend. Margaret is such a sweetheart. I just adore her. I'll be painting her nails each week. I'll walk up and put the basket of goodies on the table, then I'll go to her apartment and get her. She manages all by herself (except for her rolling walker). Margaret prefers her nails to be tapered, which she mentioned seems to be out of style at the moment, but she considers herself to be old fashioned. She let me know that she always picks the same nail polish called, Mud Slide. It's a shade of light pink/mauve. She likes her nails to have a french tip which makes it a little tricky. I painted her nails, leaving the white area at the tip. I was concerned that her nails weren't looking as good as they should, but as Margaret laughingly confessed, "It doesn't really matter since I can't see that well anyway, dear." How cute is that!

After nails I head over to the memory center. This is a secure area. The residents have memory issues, and if they were to get out of their residential area, they wouldn't know how to get back home. You wouldn't know it working with them though. They are the happiest, most jovial group. I join in the circle group of sitter-cise. It's exercises from a sitting position. We throw balls back and fourth, and play with a parachute. It's a lot of fun. They loved my purple ruffled ballet flats, and gave me a round of applause when I finally on the third go-around, remembered all of their names. Wow. A round of applause!?! I haven't had that happen in I don't even know how long. What an ego boost!

I had to warn Danny that there's a gentleman, Marv, in the memory care that's going to give Danny a run for his money. He's absolutely adorable, and even though he remembered my name, I kept forgetting his. He just smiled and said, "It's okay honey, it's a hard name." But the thing is, it's not a hard name! I've been visualizing all of their faces and one by one memorizing their names. I'm determined to call them by their first names next week. It'll be interesting to see if they remember me. This is such great practice! Seriously.

The other day my mom asked me to get the full file from UW so that we can read everything they've documented about my case. I just finished reviewing a report from my speech therapist, and I'm not going to lie, it hurt to read. I think I'm done looking into my file for a bit. According to my speech therapist's notes, "Reading - Assessed reading speed on Nelson-Denny Reading test for both reading aloud and to herself, her scale score was 175 and reading aloud 171 (both at the 5th percentile for her education level)." Ouch!

Before my brain surgeries, I was a smart girl. I was an A/B student. Especially in English courses in high school and college, I was at the top tier of the class. How ironic that I now have difficulties in the exact areas where I used to excel. The 5th percentile? The speech therapist never said that to me, which is probably good. That would have broken my heart. Now, it's just sad. I'm improving little by little, which is great and I'm so grateful, but my deficits still shock me. I'll bet it shocks those around me as well. I can type pretty well on the blog. I'm good at articulating how I feel, or what's going on around me. At least I have that. I can and do read, but the comprehension is pretty poor. I still enjoy reading though. I don't think you have to retain stuff to enjoy it in the moment :)


  1. I'll bet you are smarter than me multiplied by make that 100...OK maybe you are off the charts smart in the way smart really counts...people are ONE SMART COOKIE!

    su mamasita

  2. "So Cal" PattiFebruary 1, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Statistics and percentiles are just that, scientific measurements. You are SO far above that diagnosis as a talented writer,determined achiever, and special lady!!! Your Mom is right- you are smart in the way smart really counts! And I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying your time at the retirement center. You are a blessing to all of us Jess!!!

  3. Jessica,
    I have been reading your blog for a while now. I heard about you from a friend who lives in Friday Harbor. You are an inspiration ! The talent you have in describing your life in words is so incredible. Doctors don't know everything. In 1997 (long long story) we found out that my husband had a tumor on his brain stem, given pretty much "no hope" He is a miracle & well today :-) You & your family are in our prayers.

  4. Maybe they meant you were at the top 5%! Truly, you are amazing person, and an inspiration to all of us. Your smile lights up the world. Big hug! Debbie

  5. Jessica - I actually cried as I read your post. You are such a GIFT! As someone whose mother was in a "memory center" as you called it (I always knew it as the dementia ward and I like your name much better) - I can't TELL you what a treat it was for everyone there to have interaction with people like you! Your spirit, energy, bright smile, and engaging wit DEEPLY impact everyone there...including family members like me! I can't even explain to you how happy it made me to see my Mom's nails painted when we would visit each Saturday morning and to think about her getting pampered at that point in her is meaningful beyond measure.
    You are one special person.

  6. I have a friend who is really, really smart; straight A student. But she has no, or very little, common sense. How can a straight A student be so dumb as to not have "common" sense. And the choices the person has made in relationships--like taking the person to the cleaners, well it makes no sense to me. You are articulate and smart. If you were not you wouldn't have started nor keep this interesting EDUCATIONAL blog going. That 5% thing is like a wasp landing on your shoulder: flick it off and keep on doing all the good things you do for you, Danny, the rest of your family and friends and readers.

  7. Well Jess, you still write better than I do so what's my excuse huh? Try not to worry about statistics and concentrate on those french, good luck with that. ;)


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