I thought I was going to have lots of stories to share about my therapy, yet here we are months into my visits to the brain rehab center and I only just had my second day of occupational therapy (OT) evaluation. The logistics of the appointments (scheduling and transportation) have been more complex than the actual appointments themselves and frankly could even be considered a form of therapy. My evaluation yesterday consisted of everyday tasks that were seemingly very simple things that everyone should be able to do but may become difficult for people with some kind of brain injury. I was given a bill and asked to write a check and the envelope to to mail the check. I was asked to look up phone numbers in a phone book and then dial them on an old phone with buttons. I also had to count change and do some minor arithmetic with coins. The thing about tasks like these is that I know what I am supposed to do, I CAN do them and I can do them accurately BUT I have to really focus and put all of my energy into each individual aspect of the task and then triple check everything.. I envision the gears in my head covered in molasses and moving slowly but with SO MUCH EFFORT. And details really matter to my brain. The bill I was supposed to pay did not have a specific instruction as to who to make the check out to. I spent time scanning everything and finally asked, only to learn that it does not state that anywhere. So I had to decide what was appropriate based on the bill itself. These simple tasks certainly wore me out. And these are all things I could clearly do without a second thought before.
I also got to try out the DynavisionTM Board, which assesses my attention, eye-hand coordination, and reaction times. This one was more fun than the other tasks because it’s like a whack-a-mole with lights but then they also throw in numbers on a small screen that you have to say when you see them. My score on this was below the safe range for a driver. Big surprise. I stopped driving immediately after surgery 5 years ago and I sometimes have to close my eyes as the passenger in a car because there is too much going on around me. So I don’t really need someone to tell me it would be unsafe to drive, but I love getting third party validation of my own assessments of my abilities.
While there is an element of fun in each of these sessions and it is interesting to observe how my brain approaches each one, is is also thoroughly exhausting and there is generally nothing else that my brain is able to handle for the remainder of the day. While I continue to have others question my disability, these sessions are a good validation and reality check for me. There are reasons I won’t go anywhere near a cash register in any of my volunteering positions! I look forward to learning strategies that will make some of these simple things easier for me. Cooking strategies are on our list!