Monday, November 21, 2011

What Now?

I received some rather disconcerting news at the neurologist last Monday. He let it slip that it was a probability that I would never be able to return to work. Now, I can understand his thinking. I have permanent left temporal lobe brain damage. Damage in that specific part of the brain will cause difficulty understanding spoken words; difficulty communicating verbally; disturbance of selective attention; short-term memory loss; difficulty identifying and categorizing objects; and difficulty recognizing faces and visually locating objects. I also have damage in the occipital lobe. This damage inhibits visual perception and visual processing.

My brilliant nephew, Sean Flannery, posted a video on Facebook that was fascinating and actually helped me to understand the ramifications of my problem. The video was by Dr Iain McGilchrist, a well known psychiatrist in circles where I don’t normally don’t run. In this video, Dr McGilchrist explained how our brain actually works. I’m placing the link to this amazing video here rather than trying to explain it and will wait for you to watch it: http://IainMcGilchrist

♪♫ ♪♪♫♫ - (elevator music playing)

Are you finished? Good. So, Dr McGilchrist is saying that unlike what people believed in the past, one side of brain doesn’t only deal with reason and the other side imagination. The brain is profoundly divided; however, both sides of the brain do (and must) communicate directly with each other in order for us to correctly function.

Very basically, the left hemisphere handles details and the right hemisphere deals with global or the overall world. [I say “basically” because they really do much more than this.]

I especially like the Albert Einstein quote: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant…”

My problem is that the communication between the two hemispheres has been hampered and, in some ways, completely blocked.

I won’t get into too much more detail; but, in a nutshell, I have great difficulty understanding things people SAY to me and, conversely, have trouble making myself understood verbally. What I believe is extremely interesting is that this does not involve the written word. Fortunately, in the era of computers, email and closed captioning, this does allow me to live in a fairly normal manner. What it may not allow me to do; however, is return to a work environment where verbal communication is not only involved, but necessary.

So you may now understand my trepidation, apprehension – actually, downright fear, that I may not be able to return to my job.

Add to this the fact that the brain damage has also affected my short-term memory. So, I often have to read something a few times to fully embed it into my brain. When I write my blogs, I have to read them several times and still need to have someone else read through them to check for words I think are there, but aren’t.

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure. Thus, the title of this piece: What Now?

I’ve had friends tell me: Become a writer! That’s not as easy as it sounds. Yes, I can write, but getting someone to publish a manuscript, in order to actually receive payment for the work, is much more difficult than you would think.

My eldest son, Templeton, is a prolific writer. An amazingly, gifted young man, who has been writing since he was able to hold a pencil and understood the concept (about 5 or so) and has written plays, screen plays, television series, short stories, novels…well, you get the idea…and, as yet, has been unable to successfully get something published. In fact, other than an outstanding Christmas play that was produced during his time at the University of Kentucky and another play that was in the process of being made into a movie by a local group (this didn’t finish due to financial constraints), he has received rejection after rejection. This is something I truly can’t understand. I’m not just stating this with a mother’s prejudicial viewpoint. Many, many others feel the same way.

If Templeton can’t get published, how do I expect to be published with my lowly gift of verbiage?

I feel as if I’m on a threshold. I’m waiting to see what door or pathway opens up to me. I know something will do. It always has in the past. The fear is always in the back of the mind, though; isn’t it? What if I am stuck on the country’s dole? I am only 57. I am aware that to some readers this may seem ancient, but it really isn’t. Not in this day and age.

So What Now? I guess I’ll have to wait and see. In the words of Willie Wonka: “The suspense is terrible…I hope it lasts.”


Use To Do said...
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Brent Townsend said...

Years ago, one of my favorite authors Harlan Ellison was hosting a late night Sci Fi radio show on KPFK. He had taken over the show after the death of the previous host and friend Mike Hodel. Ellison frequently spoke about writing. If you know anything about Harlan, you know that he doesn't often mince words and can take sarcasm and vitriol to a whole new level. He once said something about people who write that has stayed with me all this time. Essentially, it's that there are two kinds of people who write: Those who like to, and those who have to. The latter can't not do it; no matter the personal cost to themselves and others.
I discovered that I enjoyed putting my thoughts down on paper in my mid twenties. I am, by no stretch of the imagination, prolific. But when something keeps rolling around in my brain and won't go away, I have found that "writing", ( Rather anachronistic term, isn't it?), helps me settle whatever issue my conscious and unconscious mind refuses to leave alone. I have often found myself, late at night, tapping away on the keyboard upon some idealogical tangent that originated with something totally mundane.
Like you, I find myself more articulate when I write. I have always wished that I could speak like I write. But no such luck. My witty comebacks and dry observations, such as they are, are usually formulated about 15 seconds too late in most conversations. Therefore, I'm a good listener.
Keep writing Ragean. It's now known that our brains continue to create new paths and connections when we need them. Repetition only widens those paths until they can become easily accessible without slogging through the underbrush and brambles of unfamiliar terrain. (Wow, how's that for a metaphor?) Best of all, if it brings you peace and satisfaction, it's gotta be good for you.

Cheryl said...

Writing really is a healing experience. I hope it is so for you in every way - whether published or not. I will certainly keep reading, and praying. Our lives are complex, unpredictable, and full of new challenges that often present themselves as absolute brick walls. If anyone is equal to the task of conquering the particular brick wall you now face, it's you. Keep writing!