I’m partway into my 6-week sortie to the past, writing my Concussion Is Brain Injury update. During the early weeks of my recovery from eye surgery, I drew a new outline. Over the months, as my eyes were able to perceive text on the iPhone then wider high-resolution iPad in portrait mode, I put it into Scrivener, copied chapters from the original Concussion Is Brain Injury and moved, merged, cut them. But the surgery did something to my writing too. My neurodoc agreed: it was simplistic, he said. I felt like all the colour of my writing had been flattened into grey, with my words grinding out slowly. During NaNoWriMo, the long fingers of the surgery and general anesthesia loosened their grip on my writing; my creativity began to re-inflate.
But my chapters were still disorganized, my writing wasn’t back with all its colourful speed. I wasn’t able to read what I’d written, although I was reading my old chapters with my mother as a way to recall what I’d written back in 2012 as well as to practice reading.
Reading! Pfft. It’s always practice practice practice. Trying to get it back. But I digress.
My neurodoc wrote CCAC last Fall, telling them I needed help. I’m not sure how many weeks it took him to write the referring letter or how many his secretary spent trying to get them to acknowledge and respond. But I finally had a meeting with the Clinical Director and the sole Toronto-area Care Co-ordinator for brain injury — the only one left because that’s how community care for ABI rolls under Premier Wynne’s vaunted funding increase. Let’s cut what’s already too little. But I digress.
We waited until I’d completed Cogmed, gave me some time to recover and then chose the right behavioural therapist for me. They asked me for if I preferred the behavioural therapist assistant to be female. I didn’t care. Apparently women prefer other women for creative work. Maybe because I’ve often been mistaken for a guy (not in person at least!) and I was brought up in a culture of true equality, it doesn’t matter to me. Then I blurted out, well, not a white male. Me and white male health professionals seem to lock heads. That got a laugh! Nope. He’ll be Indian. Oh cool. My people!
Not really; more like the people of my childhood turning up in my life decades later in Canada. Anyone with Zoroastrian relatives is really my people — culturally. But Indian is close enough. Canada and Canadians in all their multiple glories is where I belong though. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Paradise is what we immigrants call it. But I digress.
In case it’s not clear, I’ve gone from post-surgery fractured memory that sealed itself back up to wandering, distracted focus. I think that reflects the heavy cognitive toll of writing my book’s update.
Anyway, the BT and BTA (don’t you love health care acronyms?!) have been coming to my home three times a week between them for 1.5-3 hours at a time. I wasn’t sure I’d have the mental stamina to work 3 hours straight. But Cogmed seems to have increased it incredibly. Yeah, my brain hurts, my thoughts grind to a stop, but I also learnt during Cogmed that yoghurt with nuts, fruit, chocolate mix and a few minutes rest recharge me enough to keep going to the end. Then I could really rest! Star Trek: Voyager FTW!!
So what do they do? The BT broke my book’s sections down into a schedule and divided them between her and the BTA. She talks to me about how to approach the book and helps me with the tough chapters from a clinical perspective. She gives me the courage to write and the permission to rest a couple of days. And she kicks my butt by giving me accountability for getting my word count down (which keeps going up, down, up, down. Argh!). She’s also giving me outline homework because I keep forgetting to update the outline as I go along.
The BTA sits beside me with my manuscript on his laptop and I with it in Scrivener on my iPad, and we read silently together what I’ve written. Without him there, I can’t initiate to read. I notice what I need to cut; he asks me if something belongs or discusses with me an idea until I understand what I want to say. He also gently tells me I need to focus on one chapter a time and how to note down things I come across for other chapters without leaving the one I’m working on and go haring off in a different direction. He’s reminding me to stay focused.
We go through my brain injury-related likes in Twitter together. At first, he simply emailed me the ones we’d decided were relevant to my book so they’d be in my inbox, ready to be read and incorporated. Then he noticed I wasn’t doing anything with them. That reading and organizing thing was getting in the way.
So he made me go through each one plus new ones, as many as we could get through in 3 hours, had me read or watch enough to know which chapter it belongs in then stick the link in the chapter’s Notes section in Scrivener. Now all I gotta do is incorporate!
This is absolutely amazing. Without them, my book would still be chaotic and not as well written. It probably would still be staring at me, going, well, are you going to finish writing my update?
With them, I have a submission-to-my-editor deadline, I’m writing regularly, I’ve gone through my bookmarked research links, and begun checking out images for my cover. I wish I had them until the book is published. But I feel lucky and grateful and excited I have them for the toughest part: the writing.