Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Harry Potter

Between coming from Istanbul and the new years I make no progress on the speech front, partly because I am alone again, with very little opportunity to speak. OK I must tackle that somehow, but what to do?
Reading out loud helps, but I have three issues with this:
1) Print size. After the stroke I have trouble reading small print, nobody offers any explanation for that. There seems something odd with my vision overall. I don’t seem to be able to visually focus on any one thing anymore. I go through the world visually experiencing it like my peripheral vision all the time. You know the feeling when you look onto something long enough that everything else kind of disappears, but you still see them. My experience has been a mild form of this. Nevertheless I am much more comfortable reading big print.
2) Interesting material: If I’m going to sustain this over long time, then like any exercise program I have to enjoy it.
3) Audience: It works much better if somebody is with me, so that I am forced to do it for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile that November the 5th film in the Harry Potter series is released: “The Order of the Phoenix”. Mehmet and I go and see the film. I am a Harry Potter fan. I say this with great pride. I have read each book a few times, every two years or so, I read then again as bedside reading. The books a beautifully constructed, beautifully written, humorous and serious at the same time. The fifth book came out during the year of my post partum depression, in 2003. It helped me to go through the pain of that first year, like the return of a dear old friend. The first two books are in paperback, hence small print, but from third book onward they are in hardcover, nice and easy for me to read.
“May I read this to you?” I ask Mehmet after he comes home from work one day, after we put Kaan to bed, of course. Mehmet is ready to do anything that will help me progress. But he is not a fiction fan. He can spend hours reading scientific material, but I have never seen him reading fiction. Well, for my sake he will endure, I say to myself and we start. What we thought will last maybe for a week of 15 minutes of exercise turns out to be ongoing. After two months we still continue reading “Harry Potter”, 40 minutes to one hour sessions each evening. The beauty of the whole thing is multiple:
• Mehmet enjoys listening to the exploits of the famous boy wizard “who lived”, as much as I enjoy reading them.
• The sessions are long, they are a real exercise, to the point that I get tired in the end. They are long enough to have an impact.
• Right after each session I take my SSRI and go to bed, which, I believe helps with re-wiring in my brain. There is no conclusive evidence of that, but it works for me.
We continue reading until the end of the 3rd book. Then Mehmet becomes so intrigued about Harry Potter that he reads the sixth and seventh book by himself!

Fifteen days into the whole exercise, a friend of ours, who we haven’t seen for a few weeks tells me: ” There is much improvement in your speech! What did you do?” I smile from ear to ear, albeit for a second (later my left side droops – never mind).
It is amazing that there should be a noticeable improvement in just 15 days! It is like in skincare commercials: “You’ll notice a difference in just 15 days!” Only this time it is true!
There are many ways for practicing, but like many exercise regimens, if you enjoy, it becomes much more fun and it becomes sustainable. Besides I think that reading to an adult audience makes a great difference. First of all it becomes interactive, the expectancy of feedback is there. You become a little bit anxious, but not too much and in a safe environment.

1 comment:

inarene said...

This is very interesting. I just re-connected with an old friend who had a stroke in 2007 and I was very sad to hear about his aphasia. I am researching anything to help him. Thank you any many more Harry Potter reads to you!