I grew up being told never to use the ‘F’ word. It was for this reason that I couldn’t bring myself to watch Gordon Ramsay in Hell’s Kitchen with his prolific use of the ‘F’ word.
Over time, however, I’ve developed an affinity with the ‘F’ word. Not just THE ‘F’ word, lots of ‘F’ words. In fact, I sometimes find myself myself shouting out as many ‘F’ words as I can in 60 seconds. Before a differential diagnosis of Tourettes is made, let me explain.
When first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and indeed regularly since, I have been subjected to a range of tests, which collectively, are designed to give an indication of my cognitive ability. Perhaps most notable amongst these tests is The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, made famous by Donald Trump when his attainment of 30/30 was used as evidence of his fitness to practice as President of the United States.
The tests are the same every time. After seven years of research study participation, outpatient consultations and neuropsychologist assessments, I know which animals to name (Lion, Rhino, Camel) in which order before even being shown them.
I know I will be asked to draw a cube and of course, I have googled the best way of doing this and practiced it many times.
When asked to draw a clock face, I know I will be asked to draw the hands showing a time of ten past eleven.
I know I will be given five ‘random’ words which I have to repeat and I know these five ‘random’ words will be:
I even tried putting the words into a sentence and drew a picture, as I was taught to do at school, to make them easier to remember.
But then I worried I might recount the words ‘sit, steps, roof, sun and chain’ in error, so gave up on this idea.
And finally, I know that I will have a test where I am asked a recount as many words as possible in one minute……and all the words must begin with the letter ‘F’. It is ALWAYS the letter ‘F’. And, so, I find myself rehearsing ‘F’ words on the way to my appointment.
Of course, on one of these occasions, when the minute timer starts, under pressure, I am going to shout out THE ‘F’ word and I can’t help but wonder if it will be on the list of allowed words.
I’m aware I might be overthinking things and my scores might give the false impression that my cognitive ability is actually improving over time.
Finally, I’m left wondering how long Donald Trump had practiced these ‘Montreal Cognitive Assessment Tests’ to attain his score of 30/30, if I could beat him on a time trial and if this in any way qualifies me to run for President of the United States.