I just finished watching coronation street. On it, Fiz, Evelyn and Hope try to do a math problem about making toffe apples for charity.
Before I went to the ICU, I would have been excited to do the math problem. I would have paused the show (I watch it on an app), written it all down and figured it out, before continuing with the show.
Or I would have tried to do it in my head, but with Evelyn going on about toffee apples not being healthy, and demanding to know what charity the money was for, and with the question being asked at the very end all of the numbers, I would probably have been distracted enough that I would have had to write it all down.
But now… I didn’t even try. I just let the numbers fly past me, while I felt the pain of thinking I probably couldn’t do it so why try.
And why does that matter and why should you care?
Because it matters to me. Because I have lost something that gave me great joy at times, and relaxation at other times. Because a patient has lost not only cognition but a huge part of her life.
If a person, who couldn’t do math at all before the ICU, found they couldn’t count after the ICU, everybody would rush to help.
But because I had an extraordinary ability before being in the ICU, people think losing it to become “normal” is fine.
But is it? Does that mean that only people with average abilities should access to medical attention to restore their functioning?
Does that work for athletes too?
Shortly after I got out of the ICU, an Olympic athlete, who has a horrible accident, won an Olympic medal. He was lauded and applauded. But what the reporters didn’t show was all the rehabilitation he got and the sports injury doctors that surrounded him as he got better.
Me. My ability has never been understood, and in some cases ridiculed. It can’t be seen or demonstrated in the on TV. It’s something I hide from all but my closest family members and professors, because people ridiculed me when they found out I liked math. “Eew. How could you like math?” They would ask, while looking around before other’s laughed.
I learned to get a wrong answer on every test and assignment, because if I didn’t I was accused of cheating.
Teacher’s told me I was wrong, when I knew it was them who was teaching the math wrong, and when I got to university I was validated. The way they taught it was wrong, and many math professors disagree with the mathematics curriculum.
Because my ability, isn’t lauded, celebrated, put on TV, and because people who have my ability don’t become celebrities, and get fan letters, my ability doesn’t matter, and when I lost it, nobody cared.
Those really stupid cognition tests they give at the ICU bedside do not detect problems with cognition, when your cognition didn’t start out the same as everybody else’s.
When I told my doctor, that I hadn’t gained my math ability yet, he said “so not that many people had that ability in the first place”, and I don’t think he believed I was as good as I said I was.
In fact, you, who are reading this now, there are probably some of you who don’t believe it.
It is not fair, that I never got any help regaining my abilities. And it’s not fair that out there, there are people recovering from being in the ICU right now, that arn’t getting help.
Why should an Olympic athlete, get all of the help available, to get him into the olympics only 10 months after he had his accident, and I get nothing?
It’s not because he paid for it and I didn’t. He’s from a county with socialized medicine. So am I. We both paid nothing.
It’s because people understand sport, they watch it, participate and enjoy it.
But math ability… People don’t believe it, or worse make fun of it.
And that’s not fair.
Please if you are in a position to fix this flaw in the system, do it. I deserve medical treatment just as much as an athlete does.