I had been reading for 47 years.
Then one dog walk, one crashing fall later, one broken leg, ankle and wrist later, I had nothing. During the painful month of operations and treatment in hospital the loss wasn’t even noticed. Being told I would be in plaster for months I thought with pleasure of all the books I could read in that time. It did not happen.
Start to read and my brain saw and understood nothing, it simply switched off. Even the great standby of audio books did not help, my brain would not listen. The loss was physical. I couldn’t believe it. Various doctors, who obviously didn’t realise the seriousness of the loss, could only suggest it was stress and that it would come back.
I came out of plaster eight months later, we moved house, I waited for the books. I was still buying them, a lifetime habit is so hard to break, but almost in despair. A whole bookcase of unread books. One year passed and then another and depression haunted me. I felt as if all my friends had died. I was so lonely and no one seemed to really understand the loss. In the third year I managed to read some short articles in various magazines. A little hope then, but no books, it just never happened.
In the fourth year, in an act of desperation, I thought of joining a book group. If I treated reading as a chore, a piece of homework, maybe I could get there. I didn’t really believe it but I tried.
I made reading into homework, set aside a time. I could do homework, hadn’t I just recently gained a degree. It worked and slowly but surely the books came back – oh, the bliss of picking up a book for the sheer exhilaration of reading. My friends were back with never an apology for their absence. So we continued happily trying to catch up on the piles of unread magazines and books from that period.
Two years ago I had a whole load more stress dumped into my life and the books disappeared again like startled rabbits. This time I knew they would come back. I was still a member of two book groups so I went back to the homework regime but at least two books a month were being read and the magazines stayed put. Sure enough back came the books with hardly an apology!
The brain is a very strange being!
updated from a post on http://www.didyoueverkissafrog.typepad.com on 29.04.10