Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Stroke Survival: Why Can't Jo Read?

You may have seen this is grade school. After a stroke, the ability to read and comprehend what you are reading might be impaired. It is for me. It can get very frustrating at times.

Reading used to be fun. I did it to relax. I did it to educate myself. I did it to be transported to another time or place. Although I dudn't do well in school grade wise in this subject. I loved to read anything I could get my hands on. This was encouraged by my parents and my librarian grandmother. I guess that, in part, is why I became an author. To not only read but create reading material.

Amazingly enough, I can read scholarly text with no impairment. I can enjoy researching and Dean's Stroke Musing because of this ability. It's funny how some abilities are affected by a stroke while others are left intact. In a way, it adds to my frustration. I can decode words to where they make sense to my stroke addled brain, but certain comprehension is lost. I have a memory and dyslexia type impairment when I read now. Reading is no longer fun, but HARD WORK. I often have to read through a passage three or four times to understand what is written. This is why I strictly read nonfiction now. When compounded with any sense of a time crunch, I can't read with any comprehension other than a gist of what was read or skimming where I understand a few key words.

For example, McDonald's recently changed there menu board. The Quarter Pounder with cheese is now a double Quarter Pounder with cheese. I was at the drive-thru,  ordered what I thought was a Quarter Pounder with cheese and another one for my roommate. What I got was a double Quarter Pounder and a regular one. I usually order one meal and two sandwiches. The drink is for me for the ride home. We split the fries between us and Dervish, the cat. Neither of us could finish eating the double Quarter Pounder. My brain skipped over the word "double." What a waste of money and food.

There's no joy or relaxing when reading now. I have to be alert to understand what I'm reading. There is no relaxing because I'm having to concentrate so hard to comprehend. It's hard to be transported to another place and time, when your feet are firmly planted in the here and now. So I read task oriented nonfiction rather than memoirs. Subjects like straw bale gardening and natural sourced dyes for example. I can read them over and over until the comprehension circumnavigates around the black, dead areas of my brain. But, even this is not without its frustration points. It takes time to read books an average of three times for this to happen. I have to really want to know this information to put forth this amount of effort. I have to admit that my library card is not used as much as it once was.

I fair a little bit better with audio books. My phonographic memory is showing signs of returning. At least the comprehension is better than reading words. I lost my kindle reader in my move up to north Georgia. It wasn't a Fire but it would read to me. I'll have to replace it. But even with the kindle, fiction was still a no go. Too many characters occurring too far apart. I just can't hold them in my memory even after six years of working on my recall abilities. Try as I might, I can only recall two out of three items. Characters even in audio are lost in the quagmire in my brain unless brought forward by rewinding to where I last heard or seen them.

Jo can read, but it's selective. My last stroke did a number on my reading comprehension, but I can read. I just choose not to read much and that's very, very sad. Still, I keep at it and try. That's all I can do until the brain learns to reroute my ability or I recover it.

Nothing is impossible.


  1. Sorry reading is such a struggle. Hopefully you continue with audio books and replace that Fire.
    A double Quarter Pounder is way too much burger.

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    1. Jo can't read doesn't mean that Ho can't use translation software!

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  5. Interesting. I have a lot harder time with non-fiction these days. For the last several years before my stroke, I only read non-fiction, as I felt fiction was too much of an escape and there was a lot I needed to know and learn (although I had read a lot of fiction before I had kids). After the stroke, non-fiction was just too hard, so I went back to fiction, although I was very slow. Now, 5 1/2 years into this adventure, I read 3 books at a time, 2 fiction and 1 non-fiction. My Kindle is in the bathroom, where I read about 20 minutes a day (I hope this isn't TMI); I have a hardcover or larger book that I read while I eat, because I have a page-holder that makes it easy for me, and I've just started reading a paperback (those cheap ones from Amazon that are fairly small-sized) before I go to bed while I soak my foot in a foot soak with tea tree oil so I don't have problems with fungus, since I now have to wear shoes all the time. I couldn't see well enough to read the paperbacks before I had cataract surgery, but now I can, and it's such a blessing. Now that I say all that, I'm really proud of myself for how far I've came since the stroke!

  6. Denise, I'm proud of you too. LOL about the bathroom. Most people do. I have a difficulty keeping characters straight in my mind when reading fiction. Nonfiction doesn't have that issue. I never thought about tea tree oil in a foot soak. I've always used a diluted apple cider vinegar solution.


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