My nurse aid asked whose voice it was. Eric answered it was mine. And it dawned on me that she’d always heard my (slurred, low) post-injury voice; she wasn’t familiar with my old one. Then, the thought appeared right away that no matter how many days and months I did my speech exercises, everyone who met me would always hear this voice. Would that mean that as time went by, I would get used to having two bad limbs? To having a permanent nurse aid? How long would it take for my brain to heal? I was fifty-five when my first hemangioma bled; I’ll turn fifty-nine in five months.
When I asked Eric for advice about trying to get an interpreter position at the school district, he enumerated a long list of reasons why I couldn’t get it. His reaction brought to the surface the fear I (consciously or unconsciously) had kept hidden deep in my mind and refused to acknowledge: I could never go back to work. How old would I be when, or if, I recovered? But besides wanting to have a job that paid enough to reassure me about our job security, there are other reasons for doing it: the need to be in touch with other people; the need to help instead of being helped; and the need to feel that I can also bring income to the household instead of incurring costs.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to recover my clients. Maybe, step by step, I’ll be able to move my left limbs and won’t need nurse aids. Maybe I’ll be able to step and walk. But to keep myself going, I have to stop thinking dark thoughts. I need to be sure I’ll eventually recover – be positive and patient, as Eric says. I need to stop swinging between two poles of anticipated conclusions: either I will be able to do everything, or I will always stay in the same place. I have to stop being anxious to heal, because I’ll be depressed if won’t. I need to take progress one step at a time, and be happy when it happens (as the neurologist friend of my friend suggested); avoid feeling guilty when Eric has to do all the things I can’t do (or at least, not that guilty); keep reading and writing; and as my nurse aid said, smile.