“What do you want me to say to get you reading again?” My neurodoc asked me.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged.
About a week after I got back from a vacation in England, my neurodoc called and gave me my new reading homework. Same regimen as before: read two paragraphs after doing the skeleton, read out loud and slowly enough to avoid a headache and to enhance accuracy, and read every two days.
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 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 motivate myself in spite of me telling him I need him to be that for me?
For me to initiate and 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.
So in the end, I did 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.
Shireen Jeejeebhoy sustained a brain injury in 2000. Since then she has written several novels and the book Concussion Is Brain Injury, but reading books remains a struggle. She is trying for the umpteenth time to regain that lost love. Go to her blog to read the full version of this article.