Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making Progress and Human Brains

This morning Bill had an appointment with the occupational therapist.  He got a ride from our wonderful neighbor and I left early on foot to run some errands.  I stopped at the library, where I returned books and a DVD about the human brain and I picked up a book that Bill had on hold and another DVD about the brain.  I raced out of there and decided that since I was going right by the grocery store, I might as well stop there and grab some whole wheat pasta to have with supper--and I grabbed some Parmesan and Romano cheese and a can of tomato paste as well.  Paid for my food and stuffed it into my backpack.  I zipped outside and started walking across the parking lot when I spotted a lonely $5 bill folded up on the asphalt.  After putting that in my pocket, I headed to Maine St and started my power walk to the hospital.  There were a few icy patches on the sidewalk that I had to skirt, but I made good time and got there a couple of minutes before Bill.  I sat, drank coffee, and read while he filled out paperwork and had his appointment.

After that we went to the office of the doctor that we thought was going to be his primary care physician.  This guy was suggested to us by the two hospitalists and one of them even talked to him to set it up.  In his discharge paperwork, this was listed along with the guy's phone number.  Since we were there, we decided that we would just speak to someone in person rather than play phone tag with yet another office.  The woman there said that this guy could not be Bill's doctor because he'd reached his quota of MaineCare patients.  When I explained that the doc had already been consulted about this and had agreed, she said, "Doctors never talk about insurance." and she told us we should go upstairs to some other office.  I told her that we needed someone to take his lab results and monitor his coumadin dosage and asked if they do that.  She said they do.  It was lunch time and we decided that it would be pointless to try and make any headway today, so we left it for tomorrow, since we'll be back there for another blood test and a meeting with the cardiologist.  We ate the lunches we'd brought with us and headed home.  It was a one and a half mile walk and Bill did get tired, coming as it did right after the occupational therapy stuff, but he made it. 

I didn't get the details of how the appointment went and Bill is napping as I type, so I am sure I'll get filled in later.  But she did say that he's improved over last week and that she does not think he will need to see her many more times.  She told him to do word search puzzles (helps with scanning) and gave him some balls to move around in his hand (strength and coordination, I guess).  She had him lay on the floor and asked if he could get up.  He laughed and told her that we sleep in a futon on the floor, so he's had practice getting up!  It sounds like things went well.

We watched the DVD about the brain last night and it was fascinating.  Some of the stuff I already knew and some I did not.  One of the things I got excited about was when the brain scientist started talking about the brain and culture.  He and his colleagues have come to many of the same conclusions I have about certain things from a purely physical scientific standpoint.  I always think that the more people can support an argument from as many different angles as possible, the better, so I was thrilled that the brain scientist got to the same place as I did through sociocultural anthropology.  I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten blank looks and silence when I suggest to people that a certain viewpoint or aspect of their worldview isn't actually inherently "real" in any concrete sense--it's the story they are telling themselves about what is happening.  They can tell a different story.  We can't experience anything without interpreting it and to do that, we tell a story.  If enough people tell the same story, it's culture, and it seems real enough--and in a sense it is--but when enough people start to tell a different story, culture changes.  Clearly, the human brain has evolved to tell stories in groups, so we need each other, and one thing the brain scientist talked about was finding ways to have people get a sense of that group cohesion without doing the whole "othering" thing, which leads to discrimination and war.  I was also pretty excited to hear him talk about certain social institutions as essentially brainwashing people--really that is what enculturation is--because that's how I see it, too.  We're all brainwashed to a certain degree.  Anyway, what he was essentially saying was that in the great nature vs nurture debate, you need to study both, because you can't understand how the brain works without knowing how it functions as it's being socialized.  It was a good overview kind of DVD and I liked it a lot.  The next one I have is a series of 36 lectures put out by some school of medicine somewhere, so I will see how that goes.  I have the first 12 lectures and there is a second and a third set, but I will watch part of this one before requesting the next one.  Each set is 6 hours and I only get them for a week, since they are DVDs from a different library.  I don't want to have too much at once!

UPDATE:  Bill just got off the phone with the woman we spoke to earlier from Dr Boyd's office.  He was the one who was supposed to be Bill's primary care physician until we were told he had reached his MaineCare quota.  Turns out that when she looked at stuff on her other desk, she found a list of people the doc was expecting to hear from and Bill's name was on the list.  So she apologized, took his info and made an appointment for him.  Now that we don't have to go in search of these other people tomorrow, that's one less thing we have to do.  Yay!

1 comment:

Rhonda said...

this is so wonderful that you are posting all this for us.. LOVE it and so happy Bill is doing so well. HUGS to you two.