For the first time in almost three years I’m being asked to process information and reproduce it verbally upon request. Well, actually, no – I had to do this sort of thing for my neuro-psychs during cognitive evaluations. (Heh, heh. Try again, buddy. Heh heh. Try again.) But the context I’m thinking of now is a non-rehabilitation environment. When I go see Trainer D it’s like a quiz show. In the future I have hopes of filming a new reality series on my phone – we just need to recruit his trainer friends to be cast members.
But for now I’m the only contestant on the quiz show we like to call Personal Training. Trainer D will talk, use some big words for different muscles, point to parts of the weight machine, and then ask, “So what are you supposed to concentrate on?” If I’m having a good moment I’ll offer something like, “Ummmm…don’t arch my back?” More often I’ll cast my eyes blankly about the room and say something like, “Umm….don’t fall down?”
Happily, Mr. Miyagi is knowledgeable but not picky. He will accept whatever answer I give him graciously, and then he stands nearby to make sure my arm doesn’t snap off etc. Or at least he has promised to catch it on the way down. A few weeks ago he was doing the usual, can you feel XYZ muscle firing? and I told him, “You’re asking for a whole lot of self-awareness…” (I didn’t fall down, did I? What more do you want from me?!?! 🙂 ) Self-awareness is not my forte presently. Oftentimes I can’t sense things properly and my vision and hearing can play confusing tricks on me. When I do sense things I’m not always able to judge whether or not an activity is an appropriate challenge –e.g. tall kneeling – I think it’s supposed to hurt that much. So I often need my peeps to be able to intuit that I’m in distress or I just need a rest, since it’s not likely that I’ll be able to offer such feedback on my own.
In return, they like to know that I’ve absorbed the information they are sharing with me – e.g. quiz time at The Gym. CMD also likes quiz time. Leading up to my summer vacay she’d ask me to demonstrate the acupressure facial self-massage techniques she showed me so I could do them while I was away. I got it wrong three weeks in a row. I’d be rubbing my face, touching what I thought were appropriate points, and a couple minutes in she’d be like…Okay…you can stop now. And then I’d go study the diagram in her office some more.
These days no one’s going to argue with me if I say, “My head hurts and I’m going to go lie down.” Indeed, I often omit the “head hurting” part because it only twinges a bit, and I do not want to alarm Tanpo since I know the danger is past but it is still fresh in his mind. One of the blessings of being cognitively intact, though, is the ability to be stretched mentally. Sure, it’s funny when my brain is floppy and I can’t remember anything other than “don’t fall down” and I forget how to do the right facial massage on my crooked smirk (PS. It’s getting better!) It can be a little frustrating, too, when I can’t process all the information I want to, but it also forces me to boil down everything getting tossed into my pot of Recovery Soup so it’s reduced to the most salient points: e.g. don’t fall down, use your core, and breathe.
This is why I surround myself with experts in RecoveryLand – they have special knowledge that I need. It took me a while to figure that out, but I’m fully bought in. I have been blessed to work with several highly proficient and truly caring practitioners since I got sick. My method has been simple: once I understood the importance of what was happening and the value of a skilled professional, I started asking God to lead me to the right people. (Before I thought of asking He just gave me people I needed even though I didnt know I needed them.) This method actually works in every context, though. It’s always a good idea to build a network of individuals who are smarter than you are, especially in areas you wouldn’t call your “strengths.” You never know when you’ll be calling on their expertise.