Apr 162015

What do you want me to say to get you reading again, my neurodoc asked me. I don’t know, I shrugged.

Reading is tiring. Relearning how to read after a brain injury when you were … Well, reading is a complex cognitive skill – if you think about it, it takes about 20 years from toddler-hood to university level to learn how to read difficult or nuanced books. Who wants to go through that all over again? Not me. I want my reading back now, not 20 years from now. And I want to be able to read sans needing a nap afterward (especially when the schedule doesn’t allow for a nap!). Sigh.

Credit to him, my neurodoc tried gamely to motivate me. He said: are you reminding yourself you’re doing it for you? Yes. Are you reminding yourself it improves your mood? Yeah. How about you remind yourself you made progress fairly quickly? (I did? I felt like I was swimming through molasses, hardly getting anywhere.) That you tapped into resources, he added. Blink, blink. Resources? He had to remind me what resources, like the psychologist, for example.

I remained unmoved. I remained in my this-is-too-tiring-too-futile state. I told him he gives me my reading homework and in between I’m on my own. It’s dispiriting. Being male, he thought he heard my words so didn’t see them sail right over his head. He talked about self-confidence being built up when working on your own. He didn’t get it.

I half-lowered my eyelids, slanted my brows, and stared mutinously and exasperatedly and frustratedly into the distance. He repeated he wants to help me; his goal is to make me better. He continued in that theme for a few minutes.

I began to process his words. I believed him, yet … I continued to process his words over the next hours

I began to think: maybe I can read two paragraphs from my reading homework during brain biofeedback, but should I tell him?

Several months ago, my neurodoc pointed me to a series called “In Treatment” on YouTube for research into one of my books. In one of the videos, the narrator talks about testing the therapist. I guess that’s what I’m doing. How committed is he? Will he rely more and more on me to somehow motivate myself in spite of me telling him I need him to be that for me?

For me to initiate myself, to motivate myself takes a tremendous amount of energy, never mind the emotional toll of feeling like I’m walking the treadmill of recovery alone. The treads on my running shoes are worn out. I need to know that there is at least one person on this planet who will be my Go Button, who will encourage me sans irritating me (not easy, I admit), and won’t expect me to carry on by myself while at the same time asks me if I’m pushing myself too hard. I mean, really.

So in the end, I did do the skeleton and read two paragraphs during brain biofeedback. My forehead felt thick with effort, and my limbs became weak. But my gamma went up and my heart rate came down. He didn’t ask me about my reading when I spoke to him, and I didn’t tell him. My neurodoc’s homework instructions were to read every two days. I will try again next week.