How do I read?
With my eyes! *laugh*
And mostly, with understanding. For that I am grateful.
People so often ask me this question but I know that they are merely curious as to how I manage to turn the pages. Sadly, I can no longer hold a real book in my hands and turn the pages with my fingers.
I have been an avid reader and a lover of books all my life. There was a time when there was always a book (or many) at my bedside. I was never able to get into bed and just go to sleep without reading a few chapters of a good book. Maybe it was a brief escape from reality? I don’t know. But, it was my way of relaxing or winding down at the end of a busy day, before drifting off to sleep. Unless, of course, I had great sex with my husband and then floated off to dreamland in his arms. Bliss!
So, shouldn’t you be more concerned about how I go to sleep these days? No books. No husband. Oh crap! *laugh*
Just days before my accident, I was lying on the beach reading a John Grisham novel. Those were such happy, carefree days. What could be better than a holiday of sun, sea and love combined with the thrilling plot of a good book? I remember baking in the hot sun, with the sea-sand between my toes, the sound of the crashing waves competing with Chad’s squeals of delight as he played with his dad in the water, and me poised between the heartwarming scene before me and the drama of the courtroom between the pages of the book. Heaven.
I didn’t read the night before the accident. I didn’t have sex either. *sigh*
We were planning an early rise to get on the long road home so we decided to get as much sleep as possible after putting Chad down for the night. Oh, how I wish I could go back…
While I was in the spinal unit for rehabilitation, I expressed my wish to finish my book. I cried as they took the book out of my bag and I noticed that it still had sea-sand stuck between the pages.
The occupational therapist kindly designed a harness, which was fastened around my head, to hold a long, thin, wooden stick in place, attaching it to my chin. The stick had a little piece of rubber on the end. After hours of practice I was able to turn the page of a book which had been photocopied, by moving my head.
But this monstrosity on my head made me feel even more like an alien. It seriously interfered with my self-image as a woman. I felt ugly. I felt like a freak. I didn’t want anybody to see me with it on.
So as a result, I stopped using it and I stopped reading. I never finished my book.
I vowed that I would never wear any kind of weird, abnormal thing on my head, ever again.
For a long time, the only books I read were the ones that Chad used to plonk in my lap for me to read to him. Thank God I knew the story of The Three Little Pigs by heart because most of the time he held the book clumsily, making it difficult for me to read the words as he struggled to turn the pages. In those long, difficult days I learned to become a good storyteller despite Chad bringing the same books over and over again. Nonetheless, I treasure those precious moments I spent with my son.
But, it was not without frustrations. It only accommodated particular sizes and thickness of books. The pages had to be a certain texture and, even then, the pages often got stuck or turned a few at a time. My care assistants often struggled to help me sort out the glitches with the device as they mostly had no understanding of the technicalities involved. Since it was imported, nobody here had the expertise to repair or service it.
But, I will never forget the overwhelming joy I experienced when I started reading my first book on that machine.
Today, I buy e-books which I download off the Internet straight onto my laptop. I’m so thankful for the rapid advancements in technology which have the power to change my life.
Once again I have the delight of being able to read in bed if the laptop is placed on my over-bed table at the right angle. But, it will never be the same.
I miss the feel, and the smell, of a book. I miss the ache in my arms, as I lie in bed, reading a big-fat-juicy novel, just before drifting off to sleep. But, I am fortunate that I can still read. I have good eyes and an inquiring, intelligent mind. For that I am grateful.
Now all that remains is for me to find the courage, to finally finish reading that book.
Next time… How Do I Write?