Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ha, Ha, Ha, Someone Told Me That You Like to Read

I woke up one morning about a week ago and I could move my arms without feeling like I had tapped all the energy that my body could muster. The thyroid medication has finally kicked in. I almost feel like myself, with strong emphasis on the ‘almost’. I doubt if I will ever feel fully myself again. But hey, I’m here and the part of me that is still inside this body is among family and friends. What more could I ask at this point.

A day or two ago I was reading an article about ‘information that refuses to stick’ in our heads. Among the interesting information the author was sharing was the term “outsourced neurons”. Isn’t that a lovely scientific term for things that go right ’over’ instead of ’into’ our heads.

I swear I am having more outsourced neurons then I remember having before this last episode my body put me through. A family member or a friend can casually ask me to remind them that yada, yada, yada. And a few days later when they didn’t yada when they should have yadaed and they turn their faces toward me and ask if by some chance they had asked me to remind them I can sweetly smile and say, “Oh my goodness, that must have been an outsourced neuron.” That leaves them confused and me free of all guilt. See how valuable reading can be. On the other hand I have to admit that I have started writing down almost everything that is aimed my way. Truth is I’m a living, breathing case of writer’s cramp. Between my neurons being outsourced and my writing hand being cramped I’m on the verge of asking all those that offer me information to please think twice about who they’re trusting. Isn’t loving to read wonderful?

Speaking of reading..... When I was in the hospital and realized that I couldn’t remember how to tell time I started worrying that maybe I couldn’t remember the meaning of written words too. So I asked one of the nurses if the hospital had a reading library. She laughed so hard I thought she was going to choke. “You read?” “You actually read?” “This place doesn’t have a library. Turn the television on if you’re bored.”

My answer “But I don’t like television,” became a contention in itself. At least twice a day someone would walk into my room and ask if I wanted them to turn my television on for me. When I said no they usually just smiled and turned it on any way. I soon learned that, “I don’t like television, I like books,” was not a satisfactory or easily understood answer. Most often they laughed at me when I made that contentious statement. I even had one of the Physical Therapists answer back with, “I have never read a book. You can get all the information you need from the television.” I argued with him for a bit, but he just found me that much more laughable. I was a total oddity.

At least once a day someone I didn’t know would poke his or her head into my room and say, “I was told that you like to read. How may books have you read?” It got so bad and far flung that I even had two different sets of ambulance drivers come to my room to get a peek at the weird woman that liked to read which, come to think about it, wasn’t all that bad. Being visited by handsome, young men isn’t all that hard to take even if they were more intrigued by my reading habits then by me personally. I got to the point that I was laughing at them for laughing at me, laughter is very contagious. That was OK with all of them. They thought I found myself laughable too. It worked out for the both of us.

And then one morning a young ward clerk walked into my room. She had a large shopping bag that was obviously very heavy for her to carry. She stood there at the foot of my bed staring at me trying to make a decision. After a bit of thought she took the bag and dumped it on my bed and as she turned to leave she said, “I was told that you love to read. I was also told to find you something to read so I gathered all of my old magazines and put them in that bag for you. I hope they do the trick, I‘ve done what I can. “ And before I could get my “thank you” blurted out she turned and hurried out of my room. I just sat there in my bed and laughed. I was really causing some serious gossip.

But before the young ward clerk had shown up I had asked my family to please bring me my stack of summer reading books. The current book that I had been reading was a very deep and serious technological tome about the ocean and whale hunting. I found that trying to pick up the book and continue on from where I had left off was almost impossible. My mind couldn’t comprehend or sustain the knowledge that the words were trying to share. I found myself reading the same paragraph 3 or 4 times and even then not understanding. So I put that book down and picked up one of the light Carl Hiaasen books that was in the stack. I was worried that I had lost my ability to read. That would have been total disaster for me. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. But the Hiaasen book was low key and amusing and my mind was able to work with the words. In fact, that book is the book that I used to exercise my brain back to the Pennie that I recognized.

That stack of books from my family got me into more trouble then I ever would have imagined. The Physical Therapists wanted me to go to ’cooking demonstrations, valentine’s parties for stroke victims, Mexican chip and dip meetings, and other mixers for the brain damaged. No matter how hard I tried to convince the PT’s that I didn’t want to go to those things, I wanted to stay in my room and read and read and read until my brain was well they never understood me. They would always go get some big burly man who would grab my wheelchair and forcefully push me to whatever function they thought I should sit through. Frankly, my reading did me more good then any of the cooking demonstrations they forced me to sit through. Even though I finally realized that none of them read therefore;. they just couldn’t understand that I was doing myself more good with that book then they were doing with their pot full of uncooked spaghetti. Once again I was an unknown commodity. Between having had polio and reading books I was a great cause for concern for those young peppy PT’s that had no idea how to deal with me, Miss Sandra. I can laugh about it now but at the time I was very frustrated. They never listened to me!!!!!

This past week I read in the New York Times that contrary to every ones hopes the Harry Potter books haven’t influenced this generation of young people to read for pleasure. A direct quote was, “Harry Potter doesn’t perpetuate a culture of reading.” I found that very sad. What a lot of joy this generation will miss.

My life has become very small and contained. The state of California has taken my driver’s license away from me. I can fight the decision and I intend to, but it will take time, patience, and my doctors help to get it back. In the meantime, I am forced to stay confined in this house. I try to be quiet and patient with the state’s decision, but I have worked my whole life to establish my independence and with one swoop the state has taken it away from me. I understand why they have done it, but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with their action. This has all the earmarks of being a major battle. Phooey!!!!!!

On the other hand something very nice has happened. I think my son has met the woman that will eventually join our family as a wife, a daughter-in-law, and a mother figure. She is as cute as a button and is one of the sweetest women that my son has ever brought home to meet the family. She has an infectious laughter, and a truly giving spirit. In light of what I went through at the first of this year I couldn’t have better news. I know that when it is my turn to go that she will be there to care for the people that I love. I love her for that knowledge. I have a much lighter heart because of her.

I watched my son meet her and slowly spend time with her. I could see there was something different about this woman. He acted different about his relationship with her. You can feel the difference in him and you can see the feeling the two of them share when they are together. I am very happy about this turn of events. It’s exciting!

Well friends, Miss Sandra, aka Pennie is going to go outside and read one of those confusing things called a book. Funny, those are the things that have kept me un-confused most of my life.

I also want to thank two people that showed me continuous love when I was hospitalized. My female friend Billie and my male friend Scott. Between the two of them I never had a day or evening without someone visiting me. They never came to see me that they didn't bring me something. Billie knows that I dislike the local water so she would bring me bottles of lovely tasting water and Scott knows how much I love a particular restaurants soup so he would bring me lovely bowls of hot soup. Scott even continued to come and see me every day when his car broke down and he had to take the bus. Those two wonderful, loving people filled my life and my heart with warmth and caring. Billie even gave me a manicure and painted my nails for me. I am a very lucky woman to have two such loving people in my life. I can never thank them enough. They were and are wonderful.

Now I am going to go read that book.


Pennie, aka Miss Sandra

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