I think I will always schedule an uplifting appointment on the same days as speech therapy appointment days, which heave an unpredictable mood onto me. Speech therapy has sent me into the doldrums and it has also been a marker of great progress. It’s become such a marker of mood that I’ve used it as a basis of comparison for my other medical appointments, all of which gleam in comparison. Regardless, I’m realizing it’s definitely a moody experience to confront my weaknesses point blank for an hour nonstop, especially when I’ve spent the rest of my living days hiding them from the universe. There is nothing so gritty as facing my deficits head on.
The worst thing is that as time goes on, I’m getting better at hiding my cognitive weaknesses and becoming more resistant to unveiling them. It HURTS. It SMARTS. I don’t want to show someone that I still do not think the way I want to think, and that my memory, for instance, still sucks.
I have gotten a lot better, but there is still some way to go–and maybe this is it. In that case, I need some tools to help me compensate.
Today, I got a new therapist, because my prior therapist has moved on (why? I do not know–but last week, my 2nd appointment, was her last day). I liked my previous speech therapist–she had such a balance of cheer and reality. Plus, she’s been with me since the beginning, and knows from where I’ve progressed. This new therapist? I hate her.
I know–really, should I hate someone so point blank? But I do. She talked a mile a minute–it took all my patience to comprehend her, and it left me short tempered. Was she new at this? How could people undergoing speech therapy understand someone who spoke so quickly? She also liked to tell me (as she told me every 3 sentences), “I’m not sure how to do this, but…”
That wasn’t building my confidence in her.
She said I looked fine. Grrr. THAT is my pet peeve, to be told, “You don’t LOOK like you’ve had a stroke! You should be able to do this.” She really said that. I was blindsided by her comment, and my eyes welled up with tears. But could I cry in front of her? No way. I gritted my teeth.
She reviewed the goals I’d stated during my last visit (write a short story, read 50 pages a day, be able to listen to at least 4 people talking, learn more compensatory strategies), and started critiquing them, and the way they were written down in my file (she had a lot of concern for “How things were documented in the file,” even though I’m pretty sure she only opened my file for the first time maybe ten seconds before meeting me). I sighed. I said to her, “I was thinking maybe you could break those goals down into itty bitty steps and help me get there? I don’t know what the itty bitty steps might be.” Seriously, was this her first day on the job?
I ended up feeling resistant. I said “I can’t,” a dozen times, even though that’s far from my typical response to challenges. At which point she chided me. She would not tolerate an ounce of pessimism from me (“Don’t say ‘I CAN’T!'”), something I resented. I’m not an awfully pessimistic person–“I know I’ll eventually recover, but it seems so far away,” I said. To this she responded, “Now when you’re optimistic and cheerful like that, I like that!”
UGH. It took everything I had to not glare at her. I so wanted to smite her with a dirty look. Was it really my responsibility to make HER happy?
I had to once again take a deep breath and say, through my tears, that she wasn’t breaking things down enough for me–and that I genuinely felt “I couldn’t” do the things she’d asked. (“Here!” she gave me a pen. “Now outline a short story!” I was SO FRUSTRATED at her approach to the creative process, and helping me through it). Then of course, she said the kind of thing she’d been saying throughout our appointment, “Well, I’m not sure how to do this. I don’t write. I don’t do creative things!”
I started to cry.
I had to tell her that I spend the majority of my life hiding my deficits, and that this is my ONE HOUR where I confront them head on, and why couldn’t she UNDERSTAND that this was difficult for me? And that my disabilities are INVISIBLE and even though I look “totally normal” I really AM having a hard time.
Yah. I’ve never had to say THAT speech before. NOT.
I couldn’t believe I had to explain it to my freaking SPEECH THERAPIST, someone who’s a professional at this. I mean, it’s one thing to explain my situation to MFA peers, but to a professional trained to work with people like me? I was astounded.
I emerged from the therapy session feeling utterly…STUPID. (Oh btw, our last step was trying to DECREASE my sessions with her to 2 times a week, even though I KNOW I am supposed to have speech therapy 3 times a week) If I couldn’t do something, she didn’t figure out how to help me to do it–she saw me as irreverent. If I became discouraged and uncomfortable, she became doubly so–and she only acknowledged “cheerfulness.” Seriously, does she not work with ILL people?!
I emerged, trembling with anger, from the hospital building.
Thank goodness I had a massage appointment afterwards (my neck and back are KILLING me) and got to lay on a table while being pleasantly kneaded.
I meet with her again on Thursday. That may very well be my last appointment with her. My husband tells me to change therapists more quickly than that.