Monday, March 17, 2008

further on understanding the written word

It is almost my 4th or 5th day in the ICU. My brother has brought me a book, by a new Turkish author. On the cover there is a young women in her 30s riding a segway. I try to read the title, no truly, I try to decipher the title. No matter how I try, I cannot make any sense of it. I know that they are 3 words on the page, with full concentration I look at them. The harder I try to focus the more elusive they become. Again it is like trying to look at a shining star, the more you look at them, the more they disappear. I don't mean visually I cannot take them in, I mean I cannot process the visual stimuli in my brain, to convert them to a meaning. It is another aspect of aphasia, similar to the fact that the more I try to remember a certain word, the harder it becomes to remember. Certainly a part of aphasia is a disconnect between knowledge and conversion mechanism of the brain, either into expression or into deciphering.

By the way, I have made small improvements on the expression front. Now, when I can think of a word I sometimes can explain it through a combination of schematic drawings and the "vocabulary" my mom helped me build through her drawings. Just today I was able to explain the concept "farmer's market" to her. Of course this took me 1/2 hour, but hey, I've got all the time on the world, and from now on, expressing is my job.

Also, slowly I make progress on the writing front too. I'm able to write my family's names by memory, without having to copy them. Also the title page of the book I told you about, by the end of the fourth day, I can recognize the individual letters.

But there is also something funny going on. Today I asked my mom for her telephone book. In my mom's book all my childhood friends' telephone numbers are listed. I figured, going through the pages, I can recognize some of the names, and copy them down with the intention of bringing them forward when I need them. But, alas, when I got the phonebook, there was another challenge: All of the phone book was written in 'cursive'. A very significant challenge indeed. I was quite angry with my mom, because she chose to write in this cursive language. It was precisely that to me, a different language. Nevertheless I could recognise some names. Like some of my best friends.
By the end of fifth day I could think of some words and write them down (of course terribly misspelled), but I am very proud.
Another interesting phenomenon: I tend to put the words or numbers I'm able to write, in rectangular shapes. Mom finds it very odd. I find it so reasonable that I'm sure there cannot be any other form of writing. When people write down words for me to copy, if they are not absolutely perfect, I have trouble, I cannot assign any meaning to it.

1 comment:

the aphasia decoder.... said...

Keep writing. You're helping more people than you know.