I had the amazing opportunity to feel what it is like to be without any form of language. Frustrating!! I felt it was very important to tell people what was going on, and it took a great deal of persistence and effort to take ideas and words that were in my brain, and make them come out of my mouth. My first words were something like “I’m sick”. Why I felt it was so important to inform the people in the hospital of this fact, I do not know! 🙂
Over the next few days, I rapidly regained speech, recognition of people and memory of names. One of the surprises for me was how long it took for words to be easy to find. I was playing “a word that means something like…” for several weeks.
The other amazing experience was the loss of written language. I knew that the symbols I saw on forms and labels (there are plenty in a hospital) were letters and numbers. I knew they made up words and coherent sentences. But they were totally un-recognisable! Gradually, I started to recognise individual symbols, then arduously began to read again. The OT gave me four dot-to-dots, one a day for four days. The first two took me all day (about 40 dots). After about a week of being aware (an impressively short recovery time) I got stuck into a book. Slowly. In short 5 minute bursts to rest aching eyes.
All of this has given me a new appreciation for language. I knew I enjoyed words before the meningitis, but now I have a sense of how central they are to a human existence. Being able to recognise ones’ loved ones and remember their names is a huge plus too! As we leave the troubled 2014 behind and step into 2015, I am incredibly grateful for the words (and ideas) I can share with you.