Thursday was a difficult day for me.
I met with the neuropsychiatrist who did the cognitive testing I had done in December, and got some challenging news. The cognitive testing showed some of the classic issues that anyone with a traumatic brain injury faces; impaired attention, short-term memory issues, slowed information processing. It is what it is, and I can’t say that any of it was a surprise, but what was troubling was the delivery. It’s not like I was hearing things; what I heard was WHAT THE MAN SAID which was that I should give up on my dreams of being a doctor. That I’m too slow. That I need to accept these new limitations or I am going to crash.
My response was this; ‘I understand your concern, but how can you tell me this when I have just had the best semester of my college career?’ Whatever, guy. Watch me. He told me that I got lucky and THAT’S why my grades were the best ever. Sure. Ok. I was beyond upset as I was hearing all this, and was ready to get up and leave. That being said, he IS the expert on this stuff and he softened his delivery once he realized I had stopped listening. The statistics are not in my favor; people who have had TBI’s are more prone to depression. People who have has strokes are also more prone to depression. On top of all of that, a pre-med schedule is not exactly conducive to stellar mental health. I get it. But, he doesn’t live in my head. I like to think I’m a lot tougher than he is giving me credit for. Actually, I think I’ve earned my stripes. I AM tough, dammit. What I have survived this year is something that nobody can take away from me. Yes, maybe I walk like a drunk girl while stone cold sober (thanks to obliterating my vestibular system). No, I cannot hear you when you whisper into my right year. But nothing will ever be as hard as re-learning how to walk after being paralyzed on one side by a stroke. And nothing will ever be as hard as looking in the mirror and seeing myself as literally only one half of what I used to be. And if I have survived that I think I can make it through this semester (the hardest one yet) and maybe even organic chem. That remains to be seen, though.
I’m thankful for my mom for keeping me from plummeting down the dark dark hole of despair after that rough appointment. I’m also thankful for the Nurse Practitioner of one of my physicians during my time at UCLA, and she is amazing and brilliant and has been my cheerleader from the time I came to UCLA last March. We have kept in touch since I was discharged, and she also helped remind me that I am perfectly capable of achieving whatever the fuck I want (pardon my french). Melle, you represent everything that I want out of my life and I will never forget the dignity and respect with which you treated me always, even when I didn’t feel like I had much dignity at all.