Brainstorming Session for Visiting Schedule

Several of you have asked if there would be a way to set up a schedule to know when folks are visiting Mike so we can spread out the love over days and times. This is a wonderful idea. Of course, we can always use the blog to just write in comments saying, "I'll visit him on such and such afternoon or lunchtime, or dinner" for other folks to get a sense of who's coming when, but that's not particularly user friendly.

Can any of you techno-geeks (said with love) think of a way to have a publicly accessible spreadsheet that everyone can see and enter info into? I figure the rows would have each date and the column headings would have times of day: lunch, afternoon, dinner, and after dinner. People could simply enter their names when they think they'll be visiting. He doesn't need someone at every slot of every day (in fact, that would be total overload) but it would help others to know if there are days when no one has a visit planned so we can distribute the love a bit more.

x0x0x0x0x0 danna

PS: (added late Tues morning) If you haven't read the comments below, please do. Josh provides a fantastic summary of Mike's memory issues, what is happening in the brain, and possibilities for healing. For those who are like, "Who the hell is this smarty pants?" Josh has a Ph.D. in psychology and is in ComedySportz with us. Awesome summary, Dr. Rubenstein. So good to have smart people in our circle of friends.


Josh said...


I wanted to respond to some of yesterdays comments on Mike's memory problems. Basically, memory works in the following (simplified) way. When you first tell (or show) someone new information ("I just bought a new car") that informtation is put into a short term memory (STM) buffer. This buffer lasts about 20-30 seconds before it starts to decay. If a person is able to verbally rehearse it they can keep in in STM for a much longer time. (Clinical doctors and psychologists used to define short-term memory as lasting a couple of minutes. Regardless, the same principles apply). This STM allows us to have conversations without forgetting the beginning of each sentence. Mike has no problem with his short-term memory. It is functioning normally.

In normal healthy people, if distraction (e.g. conversation, television) occurs, that info in STM will decay and be lost forever. If, on the other hand, the information is rehearsed enough (e.g., learning lines for a play) or if it is important enough (e.g., I'm pregnant), the mind starts another process to place that information into long-term memory (LTM). This is Mike's problem. He cannot transfer new information from STM to LTM. This is called anterograde amnesia. This is what Mike has. It's refered to as a LTM storage problem. His LTM retrieval is also normal. This is why he can recall everything from his past before the tumor. This all makes sense given the location of Mike's tumor. The part of the brain that controls the conversion of information from STM to LTM includes the Hippocampus and Fornix, two brain structures that are right next to the tumor, especially the Fornix. The tumor (and maybe scar tissue and swelling) are stoping the Fornix and Hippocampus from forming long-term memories. The part of the brain that controls STM is no where near the tumor.

This discussion is all about verbal memory. Stuff we can discuss and of which we usually have conscious awareness. Procedureal memory (sometimes called muscle memory) is a different system and should still be intact. Of course, learning complex procedural actions (driving to the doctors office) is aided by verbal memory. Still, procedural learning can occur.

This anterograde amnesia is my biggest cognitive concern for Mike. The fact that it comes and goes is good. It suggest that whatever is affecting the LTM storage problem is coming and going. It also suggests, that there is currently no permenant damage, in my opinion.

Someone else mentioned other parts of the brain compensating for any loss that remains. This can happen in two ways. First, there is something called neural plasticity in which, over time, healthy brain tissue sometimes takes on the functions of damaged brain tissue. I don't know if this can occur in the Fornix/Hippocampus structures or not. The other compensation that occurs is when people use their other mental abilities to develope tricks and strategies to accomplish mental activities when the damage parts aren't functioning. Given how brilliant Mike is, there is a very strong probability that this will happen. The rehab people will help with this, but Mike will also come up with solutions on his own.

I'm sorry if this was too long. I can't help it. I hope it helps.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Josh, whoever you are, this really does help and sounds very hopeful to me.

Elvie (one of Mike's not-Rosa aunts)

Cheryl said...

Hooray for Josh! I was thinking of askin you, Danna, if rehearsing new information would be a help in addition to asking Mike questions after time has gone by.

I'd also guess that you're going to have to make sure that Mike gets kind of AP-Rehab - to make sure that the Magee people know how intelligent Mike is and how broad his cognitive resources are.

Anonymous said...

There is an online service/ program that allows divorced parents to create a calendar/ schedule and other key information showing who has custody of the kids, what activities are scheduled ect so that the custodial parent doesn't forget to take their kid to an important event or doctors appointment ect. Each family has its own password and kids can access the schedule as well to list things that they think their parents ought to remember. It was created as way to help families who may not have had an amicable break-up keep each other informed. I heard about this on a radio show a few years back.

It seems to me that it this service might be a great thing for creating Mike’s visiting schedule, also dinner schedule and other important dates like if you know when he has his radiation visits or will be in a specific rehab session at Magee you could list that on the calendar so folks can plan visits accordingly.

The down side here is that I don’t recall the name of the program/service. I’ll do some research and see what I can find but maybe there are some folks out there who know what I’m referring too?

Kel said...

The webased calendars set up for family and/or personal use all come with fees most around $100 a year--YIKES!

Google Calendar is free but from what i can find still has a lot of bugs.

Yahoo Groups is free and will allow you to set up a group calendar, allow you to select who can view it and/or who can also edit/post. I didn't find any issues related to posting or viewing so as of the moment this might be the best dealy-o.

THAT SAID...If anyone else has better information / resource feel free to take the lead here.

I am willing to set up a Yahho Groups page with calendar. The groups page will be redundant to this blog but the calendar may be useful for scheduling

csm said...

So... re: the calendar stuff... I created an email on Google for this blog. We can easily attach a Google calendar to it and publish the password for folks to access it. Just a thought.


The Brain said...

Susan - that sounds the easiest and cheapest way to go about this. How do I do this? And Kel, thanks for the dirt on those scheduling systems. Too bad they rob you blind to be able to schedule time with your kids, eh?



csm said...

if i did this correctly, this will be the URL for the calendar...