I’m not one of those people who say that I don’t have any political biases. I do. But I pick my battles carefully and typically choose not to try to persuade others, except for my 90-year-old Mom, who clings to her political opinions as stubbornly as I try to convince her otherwise.
But after hearing the President brag about the results of his cognitive test, I feel the need to step forward in a public way. You see, in 2014, I was given that test. In fact, I was asked all those questions, and on multiple occasions, over a three-month period. Just before being asked, for the first time, to draw the hands on a clock (the familiar 11:10 request), I had been diagnosed with a rare, secreting brain tumor causing severe brain swelling. Following emergency brain surgery, in which the tumor was successfully removed, I was left with cognitive dysfunction, but was assured that I would recover. Maybe. Because everyone’s path to recovery is described as unique and not guaranteed.
I battled, not only with where to put the hands on the clock, I struggled with the answer to whether a dog was an animal, and fretted over counting backwards from 100, subtracting by 7, along the way. The promising thing, according to my therapist, was that I KNEW when I was wrong, I just didn’t know yet WHY I was wrong.
The cognitive test is not a test to show off one’s ability, it is given to people who are already suspected of having diminished, or declining ability. They are, sadly, questions asked to the those suffering mental decline from awful things, like traumatic brain injury, brain tumors and dementia. I was one of the fortunate ones in that my performance would be a measurement, not of how far I would continue to decline, but of how far I would recover.
For my Mom, she would no longer do so well on the test. A stroke has left her sharp in some areas, but I highly suspect she would have trouble with many of the questions. I can only assume this because she sometimes doesn’t know if it’s 7 in the morning or 7 at night or forgets what she has already just told me. “Three times already, Ma!” But she seems to remember one thing: she is voting for Donald Trump.
Mom would never comprehend that I have a hard time appreciating someone who’s never felt close compassion for someone who has, or is suffering from, neurological dysfunction. That he thinks the questions somehow measure his genius; maybe because everyone is afraid to tell him otherwise, or he’s simply refusing to accept the reality of the test’s purpose. Either is problematic. His bragging claims of mastering such a test infuriate me, when I’m reminded of the day when I finally passed the test, and with flying colors. I was proud in a way that was humbling to my core because I had come to fully appreciate that what is so simple for most, can be so difficult for those less fortunate. I cried happy tears in the car ride all the way home.
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