Review of Post-Neurofeedback Tests

January 4, 2014

There were two more tests for me to complete today.  I don’t remember what the two tests were called, but I think they both determined  how well I can strategize.  In which case, I failed….quiet miserably.

The first test was done on the computer.  Four items were displayed on the screen.  Above each number was a different shape.  I was to determine which shape was different out of the four.  If I got the answer correct, a soft BING would ring. It kind of reminded me  of a doorbell  However, if I got the answer wrong, a sharp sound like a ERRRRRPP would shrill loudly.  I got more of the annoying ERRRRR sounds than the BING sounds.  Anyway, here is an example of one of the problems:

four shapes

It was easy at first.  In the problem above, I could tell that number four was the different item because the shape was bigger.  Yet as time went on, it became much harder because ALL the shapes looked different from one another.  My eyes started to twitch from the annoying ERRRRR sound.  It was almost like being a rat in a maze, trying to find the cheese but only running into a dead end.  I was so frustrated.

At the end of the test, Doc came in saying, “So I heard from the ERRRRR sound that you got quite a number of problems wrong.”

I turned from the computer and glared at him. As someone who fails quite often, I wasn’t happy to be reminded of something else I did poorly.  I felt like saying, “No shit, Doc.  Did you need your degree from Harvard to tell you that?” Instead I only muttered “Yeah…”

Some doctors have really big egos and can’t relate to their patients.  Thankfully, my Doc isn’t one of them.  He sat down beside me.  “Mary, the point of these tests is to see what else needs to be worked on.”  Doc then showed me a picture of my brain scan on the computer.  The picture from a few months ago showed a big clump of brain waves, almost like a huge knot.   When Doc showed me a more recent scan of my brain, the waves appeared straightened out.

While I was happy about the results, I felt my heart sank.  Why was I still troubled with certain visual things especially when I graded papers?  I told this to Doc, who wasn’t sure what I meant.

“You mean you confuse the operations systems?”

“Well I do sometimes mix up my addition with my multiplication sign.  But it is more than that,” I replied.

Doc frowned.  “Explain.”

“Sometimes I remember facts wrong.  Like the problem 8 +7.  I’ll say it is 13 instead of…of…” I don’t know why, but the brain blanked out.  Why couldn’t I remember 8+7?  I paused before I answered.  Doc waited patiently.

“Fifteen!”  I finally remembered the answer.  Thank God!  Although it was embarrassing, I’m glad Doc was able to see another issue I was having.  These “brain freezes” seem to happen often.  Sometimes I would lose my train of thought. For example, I was talking to a colleague about the teacher I work with. I was talking about her and I could not remember her name.  The conversation went like this:

“I just feel so bad for Mrs…..Mrs…ummm…..”   How embarrassing!

Doc said it could be a ‘contamination’ problems.  In other words, yes, my brain could be remembering the facts wrong.  This could indicate that something is wrong with the left temporal lobe.   He didn’t go into any details.  I’ll have to ask him more about it later.  The good news is there is a brand new brain mapping program that will help ‘fix’ my temporal lobe.  Doc wanted to try it out today but there wasn’t time.

Doc left the room and his assistant, Lilly, came in to give me the second test.  This test I took was so confusing that I can’t even really explain it, but I’ll try.

Each question had “A” and “B”.  Next to A and B were shapes.  I had to tell Lilly the connection between A and B.

A and B shaps

“What is the rule for the square to be in box B.”  Lilly asked.   I tried to say what was in box B, like ‘big, orange, square,” but Lilly said I had to give one answer…the right answer.  As the questions got harder, there were  many times that I had to say “I don’t know.”

I also don’t know how long it will take to resolve my visual issue.  I only hope it will not take long….because if the school recognizes that I am miss-grading papers…I’m in deep shit.

Neurofeedback: Further Improvement

The way to hell pictureNovember 10th
The good news is Maria will be coming to the new center on Tuesdays. The bad news is Granny and Gumby still have no idea what the hell they are doing. Gumby takes twice as long as Maria to put the glue and sensors on my head. He isn’t nearly as gentle as Maria is. Gumby is so rough scrubbing my head, it often feels as though he is abrading my scalp with sandpaper. Having him take the glue off my head is even more painful! It makes my time at the dentist seem like heaven. Worse, Gumby doesn’t even get ALL the glue off. I can still feel the clumps of glue stuck in my hair long after I leave. It takes about three showers to finally get rid of the clumps of glue. Oh, the frustration!

While all this is going on, Granny is just watching Gumby instead of participating (Fantastic idea, Granny). After getting the stupid glue put on my head, the techs realize the computer isn’t working. I have gone through all the hell of Gumby putting glue on my head for nothing. Why the fuck did Doc hire these two morons? GRRRR……Actually, so many other clients are getting ticked off by Granny and Gumby that they also are going to Maria. What a shocker!

On a happier note, my scores have continued to rise. On November 5th, my score reached 70 during the seventh round. This means my brain was able to stay on task for 35 seconds. YIPPIE!! Yet my brain has a long way to go to get rid of all the “traffic.” I still have trouble with certain facts. Case in point, I made a bad mistake today in math today I told a student, Ginny, that her division problem was right and it wasn’t. I didn’t notice that Ginny had brought the same number down twice, throwing off her answer. Of course I found my mistake…when I heard the teacher talking to Ginny.

Teacher: Ginny, this isn’t correct.
Ginny: But Miss Walsh said it was!!
Me: (looks at watch) Gee, look at the time! Gotta go help out with first grade. Later! I rushed quickly out of the room.

Okay, so that last line didn’t happen. Thankfully, the teacher never confronted me about it. Still, it was humiliating. Even now I beat myself up over it. Why do I keep making these mistakes? More importantly, when will I STOP making these mistakes? I sometimes feel as though my A.D.D is easily shown at work. It is as though I have an “A” on my chest the way Hester Prynne did in The Scarlet Letter. Although my “A” represents Attention Deficit Disorder rather than adultery, I still feel like an outcast.

Regardless of how well I am doing with the Neurofeedback therapy, I don’t think I could be a teacher. There is too much stress and politics involved. Now I have to figure out what the hell I want (and more importantly) can do with my life. I know what I don’t want to do…which is a nine to five job in a cubicle. Needless to say that limits me.

Perhaps I could be a basic skills teacher. I may have twenty students but only for a few subjects. Furthermore, I can teach them in smaller groups. Ironically enough, there just might be a basic skills position opening up in the spring. Hmm……

 

Week Six of NFT: SUCCESS IS HAPPENING!!!

Success!!!

PLEASE NOTE: I am skipping week five since I only had one session.  There was a mess up with scheduling and traffic issues (the kind that involve actual cars on the high way, not the traffic in my brain, got it? J).

RECAP: I am going through the process of Neurofeedback to treat my A.D.D.

  1.  Once I get to the Doctor’s office, the tech puts twenty-seven sensors (wires) on my head.  These wires are connected to the computer.
  2. I am to stare at the monitor for two minutes.  During this time, a green ball appears on the screen.  My brain must make the ball stay on the screen.  The computer is actually teaching the brainwaves to slow down.
  3. The  computer measures how many seconds my brain was able to keep the green ball on the screen.   The goal is to get at least sixty seconds.
  4. After two minutes, I get a forty-five second break.  Then the process starts again.  This goes on for twelve rounds.

September 26, 2013

Between my cats waking me at five am and my bad back, I I haven’t gotten the best sleep.  I think that is why I haven’t been doing too well with my feedback therapy.  After all, my scores were in the 60’s before school started.   They only started to slide after school started and I wasn’t able to sleep as late in the morning.

To recap, I have twenty-seven little sensors placed on my head.

In school, I noticed a common A.D.D problem:  grading.  Since I have visual problems, I also have trouble grading.  I miss the little things.  Ever hear the saying “You can’t see the forest for the trees?”  This saying really applies to someone with A.D.D.    I’m the one who will notice the weird tree that no one else notices and misses the rest of the forest.  Oh well. So, grading is a problem.  Let me show you an example:

 Image

Picture from: http://www.coolmath.com/prealgebra/02-decimals/images/decimals10-02.gif

I would check the student’s answer with the answer key….and completely miss the decimal.   On different problems other mistakes might include missing an omitted number or a repeated number. Not on purpose. Trust me; I try not to miss the little things. Yet I do.  No matter how carefully I am looking at the problem or how deliberately I look at the answer, I still miss little things.  Needless to say, this matters a lot when handing back a graded paper to a student.  If I mis-grade anything…it will look unprofessional. My visual issues are due to the ‘traffic jam’ I was talking about in the previous post.  I just hope to get rid of the traffic!

September 30, 2013

Finally.   My scores are going up!  YEAH!!  Of course there are reasons for it.  For one, I try to make sure I go to bed rather early at night.  Also I have been trying this new supplement for the last two weeks that doc recommended.  It is an over the counter supplement called Guarana.  It is used as a stimulant to reduce mental and physical fatigue.

Not sure I am recognizing any other type of changes at work.  Yet I am happy with how work is going.  I feel that I am reading the students rather well.  I help them when they truly need it and let them solve problems on their own when I know they can.

October 3rd, 2013

The scores continue to rise.  Things at work are going well.  I also feel blessed with the people I am working with.

Every staff member only has kind words to say about one another.  Those that have family or health issues are especially taken care of by the rest of the staff.  For instance, one teacher was recently diagnosed with cancer.  The staff pitched in to get her things to help her through the treatments, like certain tea or spa stuff.   Other staff members volunteered to cover her classes.

Perhaps the reason I am feeling so optimistic about work is because the neurofeedback therapy is re-wiring the brain to make me feel less anxious.  Hmm…

October 4th, 2013

I got the best news today!  Maria said that my scores are high enough to move up!  Hoorah!  This means that we are done working on the cortex of the brain.  Now we will move on to the executive parts of the brain. This is the front of the brain.  The time I have to watch the ‘green ball’ will be reduced from two minutes to 1.5.

Also, I now only have to go to Neurofeedback theraphy two times a week instead of thrice.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!  This means I save $50.00’s a week.  Excuse me while I jump up and down on the coach (leaves to jump on coach). 

 

 My results for the past week

My results for the past week

Getting my brain a tune up: Week 3 of Neurofeedback Therapy

September 9, 2013

                Oh happy day!  I have actually noticed a few changes in my daily life since I started the brain mapping.  Horary!  For one, I have been doing a great job remembering names.  Normally  it would take twice as (if not longer) as others to remember their correct names.  

                It is a complete relief to now remember the student’s names.  I always hated when the following conversation would take place at school:

Kid: “Hi Miss Regina!”

Me “Hi…….Cory!”

Kid looking very displayed. 

Me:  “Umm….Tony?”

Kid shakes his head

Me:  “Jack?”

Kid shakes his head

Me:  “Sam?”

Kid: Miss Regina, I just saw you yesterday!!

Bell rings.

Me:  Thank God!  I mean…I’ll see you later…Billy!

Kid shakes his head and mumbles while walking to class. 

 

                For money and time reasons, I have decided to cut my neurofeedback session to once a week. Today, I felt tired before starting the brain session, but energized during and after.  Hmm …

 

September12th,

                What is more fun than driving twenty miles to get glue and sensors put one my head?  Doing it in a rain storm!  Oh, and on a Saturday, no less.  Ugh. 

I saw Tech 2 today.  Tech One had already left to go home and….  okay, I really need to  give the techs real names.  Let’s call Tech One Maria and Tech Two Steph.  Although both Tech One and Tech Two are females and in their late 30’s, there are differences between the two. 

                For one, Tech One (Maria) is from Europe and is a Single Mother.  Tech Two (Steph) is a Pennsylvania native, married but no children.  Both techs are very caring and good at their job.   

                Anyway, there has not been much change in my score which has been extremely frustrating.  There isn’t much I’m good at, including rising my scores.  The score is above 50 in the first few sessions, raises to 60, drops back down, and the last session is 60 or higher. 

                “So how long before Doc increases the frequencies?”  I asked Steph. 

                “Well, you have to get consist rewards of 60 or higher,”  Steph responded.  “When you get constantly 70, we will change it.”  That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. 

                “Is it normal for it to take so long?”

                “Yes.”  Now tech should have stopped after ‘yes’ but she added: “ especially with someone of your protocol.”   Ummm…what? 

“My…protocall?”  I could tell that Steph was sorry she had mentioned it.  She paused before answering. 

“Umm….you know…what you want out of (she stopped and motioned to the computer)  this treatment.”  Her face turned red as she turned back to the computer. 

I have to admit, Steph did the best she could to say it, but I knew the underline words:  My brain was messed up. 

 

Friday, September 14, 2013

                As you can tell from the graph below I didn’t do as well today.  “Well, you at it this way,” Steph said, “It’s not like you woke up (the brain damage) this way.”  Thanks, Steph.   Can you understand why I prefer Maria?

 

              Image

                                                                                

My ‘messed up’ brain

Getting the brain ‘fried’ with Neurofeedback therapy

Results from the week’s sessions

Each session or round is 2 minutes long.  The breaks in-between each round is 30 seconds. There are 10 rounds.

                                                      Monday                                        Thursday                                Saturday

Round

Result

Result

Result

  1

57

58

58

2

60

60

59

3

63

63

59

 4

56

62

58

5

58

64

60

6

61

56

61

7

64

60

58

8

60

62

60

9

64

61

60

10

63

65

61

Neurofeedback Therapy Week Two: Second Week of therapy…..first week of school (glup).

September 3, 2013

“”If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen

“If you want God to REALLY laugh, change your plans again, watch them crumble, and repeat the process.”- Me

 

Even since I was a child, I have always dreamed of becoming a teacher.  I loved working with children and it was a perfect job for someone who hoped to have a family or her own.  As I stood proudly on the stage at my college graduation, I was positive that I would soon start my long, wonderful career as a teacher.  I had always been taught that if you work hard for something, it would happen to you.  So God Damn it, I was going to become a teacher.

                                                                                Yeah right!

Four child-related jobs later, I decided that maybe I should change careers.   So,  I became an activities director.  I loved it and I was good at it.  I thought  “Hey, maybe I could this as a career .”

Fat chance.

                Yet after four jobs, three years, a move to the south, a move back from the south and an empty  savings account, I realized being an activities director wasn’t going to work either.  So where did this leave me? Broke, and unemployed.  Yes, at age thirty I was living home with the parents.  Ah, the American Dream (sob).  It seemed that the only logical thing to was to go back to teaching.

  Despite the horrible experiences I had teaching, I knew it was the best chance I had to get a decant job was in the educational field.  I had the experience and a degree with elementary/special education.  So, after I was offered a teacher assistant job I immediately accepted.  What choice did I have….right?

                                                                                               

Here I was, inside the elementary school with my new collegues listening to the principal drone on about the brand new year.  My face smiled so hard, it hurt.  Inside though I was thinking “Oh My God, I’m going to fail…..“Oh My God, I’m going to fail…..“Oh My God, I’m going to fail…..”

                Yet I survived the day!  Hooray!! One down, and only 179 more to go!

 

                Now, back to the real topic of my blog: my Neurofeedback Therapy.

Traffic to the Neurofeedback center was stop and go.  I did rather decent with the rewards.  This time it was 3 minutes on, and 30 seconds off.   No real side effects today.  Yeah!!! 

                Poor Tech One kept apologizing for hurting me.  However, I am very sensitive to touch.  That is because part of my left brain is overactive. 

                Here is the score from today’s sessions.  I wish I could put it in a chart form…but I don’t know how. 

63, 57, 61, 63, 58, 61, 62, 63

               

 

 

September 6, 2013

                Ouch!  That is how my head feels.  What a headache!    I haven’t had one of those in a while.  My score for the sessions was as follows:

60,64,63,62,60,62,64,61,59,63.  I felt extremely tired when I went home.  In fact, I had no desire to even do anything.   I’m sure part of the reason I am so tired is because the stress I felt at work.

  Work actually is going well…which is part of why I am freaking out.  Let me explain.  In my past jobs (and two careers) I have always asked my employers had well I was doing.  They would always insist that I was doing fine.  My co-workers would always praise me.  So you could imagine my surprise when I my employer would call me in to say the following three words: You are fired. 

Okay…it was not normally in those words but it certainly sounded the same!   

Although it is only nine, I’m off to bed.  I am way to tired to do anything else.  Night!

 

September 7, 2013

                Noting like spending my Saturday morning  getting glue stuck to my head and staring at a computer screen.  The session was (again) followed by a massage headache.  Doc said that is normal, especially since my brain was so sluggish.  He offered to lower the interval times, but I refused.  There was no way in hell that I was going to slow the process anymore!

                On the plus side, Doc gave me some more insight about my brain.  The reason I am so sensitive to touch and why I aced the critical reasoning part of the test is because my left brain is over active.  The right side, which helps the mind solve problems and helps one learn visually and auditory.   Both the problems on the left and the right side of the brain is causing a traffic jam, which is another reason why I am so slow!  Today, it felt like electricity was moving in my brain.

                Doc also recommended I try Guaram, which would help me stay awake and help with the cognitive process of my brain.  Interesting.

59, 55, 56, 51, 58, 55, 51, 61, 51, 65

My Experience with Brain Mapping: Paste, Sitting Still and Reflecting….

Hey Readers!

                Good news: I get the results of my brain mapping this Saturday.  YEAH!!  This post will be about what the tests were like a few weeks ago….and how I believe I did as well as my prediction for what Doc will say.

                As previously posted, I wish to try Neurofeedback  therapy in order to be faster with work.  My A.D.D makes me much slower.

First, the doctor tested my brain functioning and cognitive ability.  The doctor then asked me a bunch of questions and had me do some tasks. In order to make this somewhat interesting I am going to list everything by category such as stick/oral instructions, comprehension questions, visual pattern intelligence test, computer test, and EEG (Electroencephalography).

 

Stick/Oral Instructions:  The first thing Doc asked me to do was follow the stick he was holding with my eyes.  That was easy.  Next I had to watch Doc do three things with his hands and then I had to repeat the motions.  That was hard.  I couldn’t remember any of the motions.  After that, I was asked to listen to a list of words and then repeat them.   There were twenty to twenty-five words on the list. I could only repeat three to five items.   That was embarrassing, although I wasn’t too surprised.  Throughout my life, I have always had to ask for directions or important information to be repeated.  Hence, I always had a note taker and tape recorder in college. I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget any important information.  Yet in the working world, it looks a little weird having a tape recorder or asking my colleagues: “Hey, can I look at your notes from the meeting?”

 

Comprehension Questions: I was asked a lot of ‘why’ questions.  Here is one example:

Questions: Why would a defendant ask to have a jury instead of a judge decide the verdict of the case?

My Answer: Because the defendant might have a better chance of an acquittal with twelve people vs. one.

When asked for another reason, I couldn’t think of another one.  Honestly, I’m not sure if there is another good reason.  However, the fact that there could be makes me question my intelligence. Of course, I was never that good with comprehension questions.  Probably because I hear things differently.   Here is an example of a lesson from my days in kindergarten days:

Teacher: President Lincoln is regarded as the second greatest president of our country.

What I heard: President Lincoln was the second president of our country.

                When later asked who the second president of America was, I answered Abraham Lincoln.   My classmates thought it was funny.  My teacher didn’t.  She thought I was acting stupid when in reality I just heard her wrong.  This was one of the reasons I was very hesitant to volunteer answers in class throughout my education career.

 

Visual Pattern Intelligence Test:        I had to complete certain patterns.  The easy ones were like this:  Image

 

 

Then the pictures became more complicated:

Image

 

I suck at patterns and puzzles.  Probably why Geometry is my worse subject.  It didn’t help that my mother was a mathematician.  She would get very frustrated with me over my math homework because I couldn’t understand how to solve the math problems.  I feel the visual test had to do more with visual skills vs. intelligence so I’m not very embarrassed by how I did with this test. 

 

Computer Test to measure attention span: Doc had me look at a computer screen.  There was a square in the middle of the screen.  When Doc activated the software, the square would frequently move from the center of the screen to the top of the screen.  I had to click on the mouse when the square reached the top of the screen.  Needless to say, this task prevented me from looking anywhere but the screen.  That was the point.  The test was to measure my concentration level.  The test took twenty minutes.  It was only during the last five minutes that I found my mind thinking of other things.  Doc said this meant I probably only have mild to moderate attention problems.  No surprise there!  As I have posted before, concentration hasn’t been a problem for me as an adult.  The main issue has been my ability to finish work as quickly and efficiently as the rest of my peers.  Still, it nice to know I aced at least one part of the battery of tests.

 

EEG (Electroencephalography):  A nurse led me to a white room where I sat in a dentist type chair.  She cleaned my scalp and covered my head with something that felt like tooth paste.  Then the nurse put twenty seven white circle little wires on my head that looked like the ear plugs of my I-Pod.  The picture below best shows what my head looked like:

 Image

Bubble Head!

 

It was hard (and painful) to get this gooey stuff out of my hair.

The wires were connected to a computer.  My brain waves were monitored by a computer with my eyes shut and then wide open.

 

Image 

Bubble Head connected to computer

 

                The nurse asked me to think of names that started with the letter “F.” Then she asked me to think of as many names as possible.  Lastly, she showed me a piece paper which showed two separate patterns: 1,4,7 and AZ, BY, C_.  I had to finish the pattern.  The hardest part was I couldn’t refer back to the piece of paper. 

                Throughout the EEG (30-45 minutes), I was told not to move a muscle, not to blink or move a finger.  I couldn’t do this at age six nor at age thirty.  The longest I could stay still was for one minute.  The nurse needed me to stay still for at least two minutes.     

                While she was redoing the test for the third time, I reflected on the last time I did an EEG test:  the fall of 1987.  After suspecting that I had some type of learning disability, my pediatrician recommended I go to New York to see Dr. Arthur Gold, Professor of Clinical Neurology and Pediatrics.  The term “learning disabilities” was still rather new.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was not introduced yet and most schools didn’t have accommodations for special education students.   Dr. Gold was one of the few knowledgeable in the field of Learning Disabilities.

                In 1987, the EEG sensors looked more like big black buttons.  The nurse put hot glue on them and stuck them on my head. It hurt like hell. Then she told me to lie on the table and not to move.  At age six, this was a huge problem.  The nurse yelled at me for moving too much, and my father told her off.

                Reflecting on this story finally allowed me to be still for two minutes.  I was so relieved to be allowed to move around again and go home!

 

What is next:  As I mentioned above, it has been almost a month since I have had the testing done.  I finally get the results on Saturday.    Doc will explain what parts of the brain are not functioning properly.  We will discuss what type of brain mapping is appropriate for me.  

I feel I have done poorly with most of the tests.  While it embarrassing I will at least know what part of the brain isn’t working.  Still, Doc warned me that if there is something wrong with the executive functioning part of the brain then there might not be much Neurofeedback therapy can do.  Neurofeedback does great for concentration problems, but I don’t believe that is my issue.   If Doc says that Neurofeedback therapy will not help, I’m not sure what else I can do to work more efficiently in the workplace.  Neurofeed back feels like my only hope….

-Mary R. Shine

Pictures are from:

http://www.intechopen.com/books/management-of-epilepsy-research-results-and-treatment/dense-array-eeg-epilepsy

http://www.thehealthage.com

and
http://sfari.org/images/blog/157138/image_medium