Not at all what I expected...




I just completed a series of grueling tests to see what kind of learning disorder I have. I’ve known that I have some sort of spatial-pattern-perception deal that makes it difficult to do things like draw, cut a straight line with scissors, paint, sew, make clay pots, use a measuring tape or a ruler…anything that requires using my hands to follow a pattern or recreate anything in the natural world in some kind of art medium. I’m cool with that. I enjoy the creations other people have made for un-art or mechanically inclined people like me.
I also figured that the tests would show that I have dycalculia, which is a math/numbers disability. Math has been the bane of my scholastic existence since the second grade. I just didn’t get it, and I struggle with it now. I don’t want to go into how comepletely confused and stressed out I become by the words, “solve for x”. Just typing that freaks me out. However, the preliminary tests revealed that I scored “low average” in mathematical abilities. This isn’t conclusive, but it indicates that I do have a limited ability to figure out how to solve a few math problems, and given about ten years, I MIGHT pass an Algebra 1 class.
These preliminary scores also say that i scored in the “high superior” range for verbal ability, which is the ability to communicate through written and spoken words. Well, that’s not much of a surprise. I’ve focused on using that ability for well over 50 years, so of course it would be well developed. Mom always said, “practice makes perfect”.  I practiced what was already easy for me. I don’t think there’s much of a challenge or achievement in repeatedly doing something that has come to me naturally.
But this is the real surprise—I have a very noticeable loss of memory, especially short term memory. I suspected that, especially since people in my life have repeatably said to, “Angela, don’t you remember talking about this?” or “Mom (my now adult children), I already talked to you about this yesterday (or last week)!” I try to search my memory, but I can’t recall anything. It’s been scary. I’m only 55. Do I have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease already? 
Well, apparently during the screening interviews, I was asked about head trauma. Again, I have no memory of this. I answered honestly, which, quite frankly, I kind of regret: My father once hit me when I was around 14 years old in a Vietnam War related PTSD incident. I can’t believe I said that; I NEVER talked about that before to anyone. He slapped me so hard that I flew across my bed and hit the wall. I don’t remember the circumstances that brought about that attack. I remember him telling me to do something, and I got up, albeit very slowly, to do it. I vaguely remember him saying that I “didn’t move fast enough”. That doesn’t seem like a valid reason to slap someone. The right side of my face was black and blue, and I wasn’t allowed to go to school until the bruises healed.  I have no idea how long that took, and I never received any medical treatment. I have no other recollection of the incident. My impression is that I stayed in bed and I felt like I had done something horribly wrong. No one in the family ever said anything about it to me, or as far as I know, to anyone else. I think my mother solemnly warned me against talking about it. 
I wish that was the last violent incident in my life, but it wasn’t. Less that two months after my oldest daughter was born, my ex husband pinned me down in the back seat of his mother’s car (we were on our way to a Fourth of July celebration), and punched me repeatedly in the face. Again, I don’t remember much. We were parked outside of my ex-mother ih law’s friends’ house, and I was taken inside somehow and laid on a mattress in one of the bedrooms. I didn’t move for two days. I saw my face in the mirror once, and I looked like Frankenstein. 
All of the details of that time are blurry, and I’m not sure of the chronological order. I know my parents showed up at some point, but I don’t know when, who called them or why. I was taken to a hospital emergency room, but again, the who, what, when, and how of it is a huge question mark in my brain. I can remember a doctor reviewing my X-rays, and telling me if I had been hit just one centimeter over, my temple would have been crushed. He also said that I would’ve never known that because I would have been dead. To this day, what I remember him saying to me seems like a crazy, surreal movie clip. It doesn’t feel like it actually happened to me.
I had to have surgery on my face, and I think my cheekbone was caved in. Even that much information is fuzzy. I don’t remember the diagnosis, but I remember waking up after surgery with a lot of bandages around my face. I probably looked like a mummy.
Back to learning disability assessment—the preliminary results showed that I have memory loss due to traumatic brain injury. It’s inconclusive right now, and there are more tests that I took that need to be scored over the next two weeks. The psychologist also said that after the final results are in, I should aske my physician for a brain scan of some type. I can’t remember what type she mentioned. CT? PET? MRI? Which one was it? It’s rather frustrating that I can remember some things, and others are a complete mystery.
There is an upside to this. I want to emphasize the need for increased, diligent ACTION to stop all forms of domestic violence, whether it is against a woman, a man or a child. It has absolutely NO PURPOSE in any society. We cannot call ourselves human beings if we continue to physically, mentally and verbally abuse each other. The effects of abuse are profound, and a lot more long-lasting than I ever imagined. I can’t believe that incidents that took place 41 and 32 years ago still have a huge impact on my life. It’s…sad. Very, very sad.
If you hear or see someone being abused, call the police. Just do it. Don’t rationalize or minimize anything you see or hear. It doesn’t matter if “she’ll just stay with him”, or “it’s no one’s business what happens in another person’s home”. It does matter. You might save a life. Or you might save someone from degenerative memory loss. 

    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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