Sitting on the hospital chair with the table on wheels resting above my knees, I was attempting to do a jigsaw puzzle, trying with all my might to motivate my left arm, hand and fingers to do some of the work. The picture I was trying to create with the jigsaw pieces, was of a box of chocolates. I tried to enjoy it but I was so bored. I knew it was good therapy for my arm though, so I carried on, forcing a smile to all the staff that popped their heads round my door, to 'Check how I was getting on.' How I kept my eyes from rolling, I'll never know.
Finally there was a knock at my door from someone who didn't want to congratulate me on my jigsaw skills, and a familiar blonde haired, tattoo'd and pierced figure entered the room, followed by a more timid looking, young woman carrying a clip board.
It was the psychologist and her accomplice.
Mum and Anna who had been having the age old 'homework argument,' were asked if they wouldn't mind leaving the room while the psychologists did whatever it was they had come to do. With uneasy eyes I followed them as they left the room, and Mum looked back giving me a reassuring nod before the door clicked shut.
One of the psychologists made a remark about how appetising the chocolates on the jigsaw looked, and trying hard to sound genuine I agreed with her, though truthfully I had begun to despise those chocolates.
The psychologists had come to conduct a few tests with me. They wanted to see how my memory was doing and also test how my brain was working logically.
I began to feel nervous, and little flutters started to develop in my tummy.
What if I didn't pass?
What if something was wrong with my memory and I just hadn't noticed?
The lead psychologist must have seen my face change, and attempted to reassure me that this was very routine and that there was nothing to worry about.
First I was asked things about myself: My name. My date of birth. My star sign. My address.
Then I was asked things such as, What year was it? What month were we in?
I began to relax in to the questions. The self doubt I'd had at the beginning of the session was leaving me. I was asked to listen to riddles that the psychologist would recite, and then repeat them back to her. I was also given some simple sums to do. Then a sheet of paper was put in front of me. On the paper were some diagrams. First of all I had to follow a pattern on the paper, then I was asked to draw out a clock, and with the hands of the clock represent a certain time.
If anything I was enjoying the session. It was quite reassuring doing these simple 'mind tests' because maybe there had been a little bit anxiety all along as to whether or not my mind had been affected.
The last 'test' they had for me went like this. The psychologist would say a letter from the alphabet, and I was given sixty seconds to say as many things beginning with that letter excluding things with proper names.
My letter was 'F', and the start button on the stop watch was pressed...
I started off so well. I had been an English student after all, this should have been a piece of cake. Then I began to struggle. Why couldn't I think of any damn words that began with 'F'. I started to panic myself. Maybe my mind was broken. I could see the seconds on the stopwatch going up and up, and I couldn't think straight. My heart was pounding and my cheeks were burning. I tried to swing my focus back to the task I'd been set, but it was as though I'd already admitted defeat. I had two sets of eyes, staring encouragingly and sympathetically at me. I threw as many words as I could out there before the timer of the clock went.
I sat there chewing the inside of my bottom lip, swallowing hard, tying to smile as they counted up the amount of words I had managed to say. That horribly familiar stinging around the rims of my eyes making an appearance.
They told me that usually they expect a minimum of eleven words, but I wasn't to worry. They could see that I'd began to panic, and under any other circumstances they were sure I'd have been able to exceed eleven words without a problem... But what if I couldn't.
The psychologists told me that I'd passed the rest of the tests with flying colours, and that there was nothing to worry about when it came to my mental abilities.
But why couldn't I just have thought of two more words.
Yet another thing where I had let myself down. Could my brain not just be on my side for once?
Not wanting to be analysed any further I tried my best to shake off my urge to cry, and smiled my biggest smile as we ended the session and said our good byes for the day.
Mum and Anna came bustling back in to the room wanting to know all about what I had been up to, and I explained to them the tests that had been conducted and what they were for. But a part of me wanted to leave out the test which I narrowly failed... So I didn't tell them. I couldn't deal with any more sympathy any more feeling sorry for me. I didn't want to hear the reassuring that I knew I would get, and them telling me not to worry because I SHOULD have passed that test easily.
The frustration I felt internally wanted to scream from within me...But no time.
I had physio to do, and we were about to tackle the stairs...
To this day, when I have a moment to myself I find myself imagining words beginning with 'F'...I should have passed.