Neuropsychologist: Lori Part Eight
One of the sad ironies of brain injury rehabilitation is that neuropsychologist, who are perhaps the best trained specialists in brain injury, rarely do therapy. Most neuropsychologist work is devoted to assessment of injury, not at rehabilitation.
We don’t see a lot of survivors who got neuropsychological therapy, so tell us about your neuropsychologist therapy.
That’s probably what helped me the best. I still, 26 plus years after, I try to contact my neuropsych once a year, just socially and say hi. I send him Christmas cards. I know when I started it, I didn’t trust him, and I was afraid that the neuropsych was to evaluate me if I needed to go to an asylum or not.
And it took a while, a month, and then I started realizing that my neuropsychologist was on my side and that he was doing everything he could to help me.
And I could actually make lists with my neuropsychologist and say, this is where I want to be, this is what I want to do, and he’d help me, help guide me. I don’t know how to describe what he did. Maybe he helped me find, he helped me, he helped me find avenues that I could go into, to reach the goals that I wanted, maybe?
So in the beginning with neuropsychology, I don’t remember. I know that at one point my neuropsychologist suggested that I keep journals and that that would help me understand what I was having problems with, and that I could review them, review my journals at any time to see what I had done right and wrong in the past. I kept those journals for almost 20 years and that’s how I created my book.
So my neuropsychologist somehow got to me when I’m thinking, if I could revert, I guess when I became alert from the coma, my brain functioning had related to what I equate to as less than a newborn child, because I couldn’t eat independently, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t crawl, I couldn’t do anything independently, and my brain functioning developed pretty rapidly.
And once, I think I started journaling because I, I’ve seen my journal and I’ve gone over it – I’m thinking that I started journaling when my brain developed to about that of a 5‑year‑old, and I was 25. So my, as I go through my journal and I see where I’ve developed and where I had been able to understand different things, I knew that my neuropsychologist had helped me out along the way.
Your sessions with the neuropsychologist were every day?
When I was an inpatient, yes. When I was, I don’t know if I, at one point it went to three times a week and maybe at the very end it was once a week. I saw him until 1992.
Do you want to give the Neuropsychologist name?
Yes, I do. His name’s Dr. Peter Yanni.
And Dr. Yanni, you say you saw him until 1992, um, and it probably is fairly easily for you to describe the sessions in the late in the ‘90s, but can you describe the sessions, let’s say in the summer of 1986?
I remember, the most specific sessions that I remember with Dr. Yanni is when he would start sentences then and ask me to finish them. And sometimes they were easy sentences like, the sky is, and then I would say blue. Then other, they developed and they got really, really hard, or what I thought was really, really hard.
The doctor would say (I write this in my book) a man was walking down the street and, and then he’d want me to finish that. And I was afraid to finish it the way that I thought, because again, if I said the wrong thing maybe he would send me to an asylum or something.
But I developed and, and he knew when I fabricated my answers and when I was giving true answers of what I thought, but basically I would end up saying, and he walked across the street and got hit by a car, things like that. So I remember that kind of therapy.
What else therapy do I remember with the doctor? Like you said, I can remember the ‘90s and I can remember the, the late, you know, I remember, I got married in 1989 and the car accident was in 1986, so I pretty much remember my neuropsychology from 1989 to ‘92, but prior to that probably just, uh, finish the questions kind of thing.
The doc did ask me for a long time what did I dream, and I remember not dreaming for a long time. I remember the doctor told me, you need to remember your dreams, that you’ll get better when you start remembering your dreams.
And I didn’t remember my dreams so I lied to him, and I remember making up stories.
And then I remember when I started remembering my dreams and I was so excited, and my beginning dreams were simple, simple, easy dreams, kind of like you’d think of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Kind of things like balloons and, and pretty colors and flowers, and I didn’t want to tell him that those were my dreams because I thought that, I remember neuropsychology was so important and I didn’t want to take some silly little dream and take up my neuropsychology time. So, I don’t think that I spoke truly and from the heart with my neuropsychologist for a couple years, but of course that’s his profession and he obviously figured it out.
You, you mentioned that you were, had this fear that he was going to send you to a mental institution. Is that because the word psychology is in the name neuropsychology?
I’ve always been a huge movie person and I’ve always loved horror movies and science fiction and, and of course in, in all of those there’s something psychological that goes on. And, and I’m just assuming that that’s what I thought, okay, psychology, he’s going to tie me up or put me in a straight jacket or…
Lori’s description about her phobia about a treating neuropsychologists is unique in my experience. Yet it could be far more common than is reported. I would love to hear if any of our readers have had similar issues with their treating doctors.