For as long as I can remember, my father loved acting. Into his sixties and early seventies, he was quite active in the theater. He played Tartuffe in Molière’s Tartuffe, Nick Bottom in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Old Man in Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile. When he won the role of Scrooge in a local production of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, I was so excited for him that I bought tickets way before opening night. But he was having trouble remembering his lines. Eventually, the director had to let him go.
To find out what was going on, my mom and dad went to his primary care physician, who referred him to a neurologist. After waiting a month for that appointment, the neurologist told Dad to see a neuropsychologist, who was booked another three months out. When that appointment arrived, the neuropsychologist gave him a variety of cognitive tests, including written, verbal, and computer based. After another month, the neurologist called us back in and told my father, “You have mild cognitive impairment.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” I thought. “That’s why we went to see his doctor six months ago.” The neurologist then discussed my father’s other health issues with us, which included cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and by that point, depression. I then had an inspiration. “Dad, when was the last time you used your CPAP machine?” He admitted sheepishly, “I don’t use it. I don’t like it.” [Read more…] about Taking your brain vitals: Stories from a techno-optimist inventing the future of human performance