Monday, January 26, 2009

I don't know my ABC's what about Math?

In the hospital, various times I tried to do simple math, about after one week I could do addition, not adding 817 + 492 by heart mind you, but simple math like 4+5. The second week, at home, subtraction seemed to make sense. But however much I tried, multiplication didn't make any sense at all. My mind wasn't able to grasp the concept of 5*6. You see, I was able to add and subtract, counting fingers. So I was able to understand it by projecting it onto something simpler, like a preschooler. But Multiplication requires a higher, a more conceptual level of understanding I guess. Now that my son is in Kindergarten, I can understand why they can teach him addition but not multiplication yet. I guess a certain level of abstract thinking ability has to form before human brain is able to do higher math.
Not being able to do math is a problem, because, I am responsible of the family financials. My husband doesn't know how much money we have, or the bank accounts. I am doing all the taxes and keep track of the retirement accounts too... Now he feels like a fish out of the water. We try to figure out how we can make the payment to University of Michigan Aphasia center. It costs an arm and a leg, $30 000 for six weeks of treatment. Our insurance covers only a portion of it. Speech therapy, like physical therapy, is limited, after a certain number of visits you are done.
In our case total number of visits is limited to 60, that will be expired even before we go there.
Hence how much we can dish out is important.
But: I can't recall the words, I can't speak, I can't write, I can't do math... How on earth am I going to know how much money we have got, and communicate it?
OK, I know the basic concepts: I go to our filing system, which for me consists of a deep plastic rectangular bucket, with past years financial statements in it. I fish out our bank statements, IRA accounts, stocks etc. Then on a piece of paper I copy letter by letter bank accounts and the sums in them. I do it for all our non formidable assets. Gathering this document of 10 lines, takes me maybe 5 hours. But in the end I do it, give it to my husband. I don't know whether this takes some of the anxiety off for him also. But I do it, if only to see, whether I can do it. A small proof of what I am still capable of.

In the third week after the stroke, I regain my ability to multiply, and in the fourth week to divide. In that order exactly.
Week 1: addition
Week 2: subtraction
Week 3: multiplication
Week 4: division
Isn't it amazing? Exactly the order I have learned them at grade school. First in first out: Who would have thought that FIFO system was in action also in our brain too.

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