One of the heroes who saw us through this medical adventure, GF, in talking with me about its remaining markers in my life, told me that she has become less connected to reading fiction as her life has unfolded. An English major and voracious reader in college, she suggested that maybe the change in my reading habits isn’t entirely tumor/surgery-related. I’ve been thinking about that lately, as inquiring minds wanted to know, after the last brief 26-month status report, how the reading is since it wasn’t mentioned at all in that report.
It’s an interesting question that pointed out how one adapts. I didn’t even think about the reading hole in my life when I wrote the status report, though it’s one of those things I still struggle with daily. Most days, fiction seems out of my grasp, both in the ability to follow a narrative arc and in just plain interest. Both interest and ability flicker on every now and again, though, so I persist because reading for pleasure has been such a central part of my life. As with the recent onset of the ability to make connections and hold thoughts for longer periods, the reading seems to be improving, though very slowly. The changes are so slow that they are almost imperceptible at times, yet if I look at the progress over a long enough time horizon (say, every six months), there is steady improvement. Most young adult fiction is accessible most of the time, so I have a renewed acquaintance with writing in that genre. Brain candy (trashy chick lit, mysteries, etc.) are sometimes accessible, though I have much less interest in them than before. Serious fiction is a challenge and much less accessible than I’d like. A friend loaned me Wolf Hall and some days, I make progress, and others I simply cannot. Room, I was able to read (extraordinary) one day and then not the next, though it clicked back in and I finished (and enjoyed it) the day after that. GF's insight that some of the change is likely to be from a natural evolution in life is helpful, and maybe explains the reduced interest in brain candy.
All of this suggests that maybe the slow hare will, one day, cross the line to the next level, so I keep trying. For now, I’m reveling in the pleasure of making connections in real time and holding a thought from one part of a conversation or presentation to the next. It feels good to have that back now and again, after missing it and feeling its absence so acutely for so long. What we were told is that the major cognitive gains that were possible would all be made in the first 18 months to two years, and everything possible would happen with in five years. I was discouraged at where things stood at 18 months. At 26 months, the future looks bright.
So that’s the story on reading. Happy Wednesday and cranioversary day.