Once again Dave and I are seated in Dr. Who’s office. Dave stares vacantly out the window while I anxiously await the results of the “mean machine’s” symphonic scan. Fearing the inevitable “fate knocking at the door,” I tell myself, “change your focus.” The rhythmic ticking of Dr. Who’s wall clock interrupts my fear and I look up noting the regularity of its round shape, the numbers ordered circular fashion from noon to midnight, both straight up twelves, and the second hand continuously making its sixty circle second trip around the clock. I concentrate on the audible …

tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock

The hands in my lap are sweaty as they grip one another… an emotional response. But the clock’s indifferent hands simply indicate the passage of time. With the big hand pointing to twelve and its little hand pointing to three, I think I know what time it is but, then I ask myself … morning or afternoon? This question interrupts my focus on the clock. The “what if” worries return crowding my mind and once again I’m overwhelmed with fear. Needing to stop thinking about these scary “what ifs,” I force myself back to the neutrality of the wall clock … what if the big hand is on the three and the little hand is on the twelve. What time would it be then?

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock 

Oh yea, it would be a quarter past twelve. Again which one, morning or afternoon and does it matter?  Of course it matters because I have a hair appointment tomorrow at that afternoon  time. The clock ignores my mental meanderings and continues ticking.

tick tock, tick tock, tick  tock

There’s a quick tap at  door. Dr. Who enters. I am startled out of my reverie. Dave glances up slightly and nods. Dressed in the same dark suit under the same white lab coat with the same stethoscope around his neck and the same aloof attitude, Dr. Who walks over to the desk. Under his arm he carries Dave’s medical chart. Sitting down, he opens the chart to reveal images of Dave’s brain captured by the “mean machine.” Then Who removes them from the chart, stands up and proceeds to slap the images onto a light box near the wall clock. Anxiously I anticipate whatever the scans point to. 

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

Dr. Who: “I don’t see any focal lesion or mass indicating evidence of a stroke or tumor. However, I do see some brain tissue shrinkage, especially in the frontal lobe. My recommendation is further investigation. Here is a referral to my colleague, Dr. Why. He is an excellent neuropsychologist.”

Me: “But what do YOU think the problem is?”

Dr. Who: “I have a good idea but prefer not to make a diagnosis until additional testing is completed. Please make an appointment with Dr. Why ASAP.”

I thank Dr. Who before taking Dave’s hand, putting on our coats and leaving, still without a diagnosis despite the fancy photography from the “mean machine.” I drive home in silence,  pull into the garage, help Dave into the house, seat him on the couch, put a newspaper in his hands and then phone Dr. Why’s office to  make an appointment. Waiting will be difficult.

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

After Electra sees me heading home with Dave, she takes off pronto leaving a whirring Tardis on the tarmac. It only takes her minutes to land in my backyard where she’ll remain for a week until receiving new travel directives. Accustomed to flying through time, this feels like an eternity to Electra who wants time to fly. But for me, who wants time to slow down, it seems like the last few hours have been years during which I have grown much older despite it still being 1996. I promise an impatient Electra, as well as our passengers, that we would leave this unhappy place soon. 

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

Finally the day of determination arrives. We meet Dr. Why, a both thoughtful and considerate man. His ability to communicate with Dave is exceptional and successful because, instead of asking more difficult open-ended questions, Dr. Why simply asks for yes or no responses. When trust between Dr. and patient are  established, Why gives Dave paper and pencil and instructs Dave to draw a clock. With hesitation, Dave looks down at the task before him. He struggles with how to hold the pencil but finally draws a lopsided circle. Next Why asks Dave to fill in the clock’s numbers. Dave begins to scribble. When Dave is finished, a few of the numbers are legible, however the effort is messy, jumbled, and incorrect in both order and placement. 

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

Finally Dr. Why asks Dave to indicate the time as 1:30 on his chaotic clock. Dave makes two equal lines somewhere inside the odd shaped clock. It is goulash and I shiver recalling the surrealistic Salvador Dali oil painting of a melting clock titled “The Persistence of Memory” seen many years ago in New York City at the Museum of Modern Art. I know this is not good and that it’s a matter of time!

tick tock, tick tock, tick tock

Stay tuned to learn more …