Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I felt like a 16 year old kid asking for the car on Saturday night for my first date

That’s the feeling I had at the end of my last over-the-road car test.

Much like Joe Pesci’s character in My Cousin Vinnie, who flunked the state bar exam for lawyers six times, I flunked my first two over-the-road driver’s tests after my brain tumor operations.

So I was a bit nervous about my latest test, especially since I just got off of a month or so of steroids which always knocks my sleeping pattern sideways.

I had been tenaciously working my Block Builder puzzle and Lumosity games to work on my spatial relations and working memory abilities…and I think they helped.

The driving instructor, and my newest occupational therapist, rode along with me. As I drove, I felt like I was on my bike – in command of what I was doing and what was going on around me. I wasn’t perfect, but I felt like I was safer than most of the drivers I see on the road.

When we got back, they asked me to wait in the waiting room until they caucused and got to a joint decision.

The last time I knew I didn’t drive well. Since I had been up for over 24 hours with a dying dog, my dumbest decision was to actually take the test.  This time, though, I knew I did just fine.

When they called me in, told me I passed (with some restrictions) and then started to give me nothing but negative feedback.

If they didn’t want to “pass” me, why did they give me a (provisional) green light to drive again? (Actually the “pass” was just a recommendation forwarded to my neurosurgeon.) 

Instead of walking away happy and feeling good about myself, I felt like they didn’t really want to pass me, but had no good reason not to pass me.

I don’t think focusing on the negative helps make anybody better.  It reminds me of the baseball coach who kept saying to his shortstop “don’t swing at his curveball, don’t swing at his curveball, don’t swing at his curveball”.  Guess what?  He swung and missed the curveball.

This stupid brain tumor journey is hard enough without people being so negative.

The really good therapists, and I’ve had several, are the ones that find ways to give you positive reinforcement, to say “you did good”.  A few words from those folks are the words that really make me motivated and help me move forward.

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