... in my brain actually. My very own brain tumour

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Measuring things!


I'm John with a very old brain,
Now I constantly sing this refrain:
My brain has a tumour
With no sense of humour,
But I'm happy in spite of the pain!


I like to measure things and keep track of the numbers. When I noticed that my personality was undergoing a miraculous change for the better after working through my dysfuntional beliefs on learning about my tumour, I decided to get an objective measurement of where my personality is right now. So, I visited a web site that deals with the Five Factor Model of Personality. If you click the highlighted text above, you will be taken to a long, scholarly article that describes what this model is all about. Essentially it explains how you can take a test in which you answer 300 questions and are then provided with a detailed analysis of your personality in which you get scores out of 100 for 5 categories, namely,

Extraversion
Agreeableness
Conscientiousness
Neuroticism
Openness to experience

I know that there are many opinions about the validity of personality tests, but I am not trying to be a deeply scholarly person. I just want a quick and objective way of looking at myself in a mirror with reasonable accuracy. By the way, answering 300 questions is not particularly quick, so if you want to do the test yourself, please click on the highlighted text, take it seriously and be totally honest! You can also take the test by looking in the links to other sites in the sidebar on the right of the screen. Anyway, after doing the test, it gave me a printout that I intuitively thought sounded accurate.

Wouldn't it be nice if I had done such a test shortly before learning about my brain tumour? Well, here is a bit of magic. For some reason, I actually did the test in December 2007, before I had any idea I was going to get bad news about my health soon. The reason I did the test in December was to have an objective look at myself in the mirror because I was suffering from my usual old problems of depression, shame, fear of failure etc and nothing I did was helping. I find this synchronicity amazing.

The net result is that I have two sets of figures to compare. Here they are:



Results of test in December 2007 and Feb 2008, with scores for 2007 on left and 2008 on right

Extraversion

Domain/Facet........... 2007.........2008

Extraversion.............. ....11.......... 81

Friendliness......................5.......... 82

Gregariousness........... ....1.......... 53

Assertiveness.................28.......... 78

Activity Level............ ...80.......... 69

Excitement-Seeking.....37.......... 50

Cheerfulness....................8.......... 96

Agreeableness

Domain/Facet........... Score

Agreeableness..................7.......... 68

Trust................................17.......... 65

Morality..........................48.......... 59

Altruism.............................1.......... 73

Cooperation....................46.......... 96

Modesty..........................27.......... 18

Sympathy.......................11.......... 48

Conscientiousness

Domain/Facet........... Score

Conscientiousness……....99.......... 96

Self-Efficacy....................75.......... 80

Orderliness.....................99.......... 86

Dutifulness.....................80.......... 95

Achievement-Striving..90.......... 93

Self-Discipline................99.......... 98

Cautiousness...................97.......... 62

Neuroticism

Domain/Facet........... Score

Neuroticism....................99........... 9

Anxiety...........................99.......... 34

Anger..............................99.......... 21

Depression......................93........... 4

Self-Consciousnes..s......99.......... 12

Immoderation................59.......... 10

Vulnerability..................99.......... 24

Openness to experience

Domain/Facet........... Score

Openness to experience.81.......... 95

Imagination.....................84.......... 75

Artistic Interests............86.......... 78

Emotionality.....................86.......... 95

Adventurousness............30.......... 81

Intellect....................88.......... 91

Liberalism..............46.......... 72


So what does all this mean to me? I find it enormously encouraging and positive. It confirms strongly what I feel. If you want to know what some of the terms mean, I am going to leave it to you to visit the site and read about terms like immoderation, morality, etc.


The results tell me that the most dramatic effect has taken place in the area of neuroticism, where I originally showed quite gross dysfunction. Now I am actually better than average. I can confirm this, as my depression has totally left me. The score for depression has dropped from 93 to 4. This is a huge gift to me and I accept it greedily. I am experiencing reality accurately and feeling new emotions like joy, lightness, confidence and happiness.


Next, the area of agreeableness has jumped from a very uncomlimentary level way below average, to a new score that is well above average. Again, I can confirm this. Strangers now smile at me and say hello (maybe they are amused by my new hairstyle, hey?). This is something new. I feel full of fun, happy, confident, and aware that I am a more pleasant person to be with, less grumpy and moody. Something fundamental has changed here.


Next is the area of Extraversion, where the pathetic original scores have jumped through the ceiling. Gregariousness from 1 to 53. Friendliness from 5 to 82. Cheerfulness from 8 to 96. I find this astonishing, but I know it is true.


Next comes Openness to experience, which has not changed much, except for adventurousness which jumped from 30 to 81.


Finally, conscientiousness has stayed pretty much the same. I am happy with this because part of my belief systems support conscientiousness. It is interesting to see that my cautiousness has declined. Good!


Here are other things that I have measured:

  1. My weight was 84 Kg on 14 January. It is today 77Kg. This loss of 7 Kg in one month concerns me, but I think it is a side effect of the huge doses of Cortisone (Betanoid) that I am taking to control the brain swelling .
  2. There is clear evidence of muscle wasting, especially in the large muscles of my legs. I think this is also caused by the cortisone.
  3. I have managed to reduce the cortisone pills from 18 per day to 3 per day without evidence of pressure symptoms from my brain. I fear that this will have to go up when the radiotherapy starts causing inflammation in my brain after the 25th Feb. I will deal with it when the time comes.
  4. Definite muscular weakness has developed. When I go to gym, I have noticed a 30% reduction in my muscular strength. I think this is also an effect of the cortisone. Horrible drug!
  5. My ability to play the piano has improved. Where I was unable to play the simple Bach prelude No 1 on 14 January, I have started re-training myself using scales and finger exercises as well as sight reading. I am now working on a complete sonata by Mozart, K V 330 in C major, and it is going well. This is encouraging and joyful news for me.
Well, overall I think things are looking pretty good. I am fast becoming a relaxed blogger and continue to learn lots of new skills. Life is great! As I said in the opening limerick, I'm happy in spite of the pain. By the way, there is no physical pain at this stage - only the psychological pain of knowing I have a very serious cancer in my head.

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