Friday, October 21, 2011

One Step Towards Driving Again

I really miss driving. I  checked off the box that said "stroke" on my drivers license renewal and not long after I got a letter telling me to surrender my license. In a somewhat confused way I knew I wasn't well enough to be driving but it was such a blow to actually hand my license over.  Being a driver was part of my identity. There I was dealing with yet another type of loss to my mobility.  I hate always asking my daughters or husband to drive me places. Bob comes home tired  after a work day and I am waiting like a puppy at the window waiting to be taken for a ride somewhere. I am really not steady enough to take the bus easily or safely,  and I can only walk so far but I want to go places by myself. I want to be able to run to the store to pick up milk!  

I have had no end of paperwork snags trying to get my license back.  Months after I had handed in my license I received a letter that was a final warning to hand in my license or else.  That was an indicator of how things were going to go between me and MPI, the  insurance and licensing board.

Eventually I felt well enough to try and get my license and freedom back.  I got a health report form to be filled in by my doctor.  My Family Practice doctor filled it in and had no problem with me driving, but he did note in the letter that I had seen a neurologist. The next letter from MPI was informing me that the Licensing  Board would now be requiring the report from my neurologist to be forwarded by my doctor.  Okay -- done.

The following letter indicated that the report from my neurologist was insufficient and they sent me a form for a full report to be filled out by my neurologist.  The only problem was that neurologist, who had only seen me the one time, was now living in another country so it required another set of letters to get MPI to let me be seen by a different neurologist.

We have a huge shortage of specialists in the province. I am basically stable and not medically considered in need of a Neurologist, so my doctor tried and tried to find one that would see me for the sole purpose of filling out a form.

I finally had my appointment with a new neurologist this past week.  He checked me out carefully and seriously questioned if I drove a standard, how I would do with shoulder checking, how dizzy I got with turning my head and so on.  It went reasonably well and the nice man said he didn't see any reason why I shouldn't drive now.  He promised to send the forms in immediately and he said that if I did not hear from MPI in the next week I should call them and inquire about the status of my file.

 I will probably need to do an "in car test" with their occupational therapist before they will consider giving me a license. It is possible that they will require me to start right back at a beginners license because it has been such a long time.

I have been waiting 13 months to see the new neurologist.
I have been waiting a very long time for the opportunity to try and prove my fitness. 

I sure hope the rest of this process goes better.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011



It has been a while since I posted a music video. I find that lyrics or a melody sometimes run through my mind and they can help me in sorting out my feelings. Music affects my attitude. I like to try to "sing" positive and it helps me to think positive.

I love this song. I heard it for the first time in the background of  The Biggest Looser this week and  I just had to hunt down what the music was. The song is called "Impossible" by Kate Earl.

We have recently been talking about not blithely accepting predictions about limitations on recovery.  I think this song is right on topic. This song also addresses the role of support in our lives. Our loved ones and friends, medical workers and therapists, and even wonderful online friends can encourage and support us with their actions, words and prayers.

Bob.... thanks for always being right beside me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Testing Week is OVER!

Well, it is over! 

Yesterday was the last day of testing and I did finish off the last two sections of the CAAT test.  One part was a written mechanical aptitude and problem solving test and that did not go well for me.  Pulley? Rods? Which is spinning faster? I called my mechanic husband during the break and whined to him about my lack of skill and he said isn't it good that I have him and I don't actually have to do that kind of thing. Pheww. Perspective is helpful.  

After lunch I tried doing the Science section. I was worried that I would blow it and that would have been devastating to me. I have spent my life as a Science nerd. Happiness is the Discovery Channel. It turns out that it was a snap and I had nothing to worry about. Frustrated little ol' me couldn't stop  from making editorial notes in places where questions were just plain written wrong. Common knowledge is not always the same as correct knowledge.  The guy asked what I meant by my notes in the margin,  and I played science teacher and explained to him exactly what was flawed about several of the questions.  It helped a little bit with my poor damaged self-esteem.

I then did some directed internet research. My tester had me look into jobs that might be of interest  and I went through a big book listing possible careers and I noted ones that I might like. The objective was not to worry too much about how realistic it would be considering my health and abilities, but more to get some direction for discussion and possible careers I could be happy doing.
It kind of surprised me to find that various jobs I did have in the past still came up on my list. It is nice to realize that I don't regret my past choices.

At the end of the day I was given some of the results related to the interest surveys from the first day. Two main profile interest areas came up in one of the tests.  One was "Social" where examples of occupations are family counseling, museum interpreter, community and social services, and recreation consultant would be examples in that category.  "Directive" was the other main category with jobs like dietician, art conservator, flim editor archivist and school principal.

My interests, according to a different test, would include life science (biologist, biochemist, physiologist), social science (criminologist, economist social psychologist), followed by teaching. The surprise add in was technical writer ( scientific writer, handbook writer, legal secretary, service publication writer) but that was without looking at how I scored on the English language tests!

 I really don't yet know right now what good this will do me.  I will be meeting with my vocational counselor in a couple weeks where we will go over the abilities part of the test and look at this interest and aptitude part a little further. Then we will make a plan for my future!

I went home and basically collapsed.  I only woke up to take some Advil and then I went back to sleep for most of the night. I am still not at all recovered.

I didn't go into this thinking the week would be easy, but I sure wasn't prepared for how physically demanding and emotionally challenging it turned out to be. 

Reality is very tough to face.

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Vocational Testing Day 4

Today went a little better.

I was allowed a little more time with that math problem solving from yesterday but basically I still took forever and I think I got more questions wrong than right. I was never fantastic at Math but it is unbelievably difficult now.  One thing I did was write in the exam book! Gasp! I still needed to write on the bubble sheet, but at least this way I could double check that I was still on the correct line of the test. I kept doing stupid things like figuring out the answer and then I would find myself looking for the numeral of the question  as if it was one of the multiple choice answers. That would be my short term memory issue rearing it's ugly head.

The tester got me to do a memory test. He had me look at a page with 20 pictures on it for a period of time and then I was supposed to recall what the pictures were. I have had lots of practice with this style of test in OT. This time I think I recalled 14 items and I told him I have worked on this a lot and have found coping techniques. He said that he could tell I was using some techniques. Yup it shows.

Today there was also a hands-on component to the testing. I think the idea is to check fine motor control and hand eye coordination. I do not think I have a future as a welder.  My mechanic husband would have probably split his sides laughing if he could have seem me try to string electrical wires through little holes.
Worse than showing limited aptitude on those skills was that I found it impossible to work on the paper and pencil tasks that I was personally more concerned with while others were taking their turns banging on the test equipment. Even the sound of the instructor talking in the background was enough to throw me off track.

We also had some tasks sorting cards into different orders. I think I was pretty accurate with those tasks, but maybe not as fast as would be needed for a career as a filing clerk.

Another activity was a spelling test.  It was the old fashioned version where the teacher says the word and you write it on a piece of paper. I had an overwhelming urge to get up in the middle and go sharpen my pencil but I resisted.

Then we went on to a language arts test. We had to dentify punctuation, capitalization and grammer errors for one section followed by organizing sentences into the correct order in a paragraph.
Oh oh. You writers and editors out there show great restraint when  reading blogs like mine!

A highlight of the day was lunch with two of the other ladies. We talked about how much difference it made to be having a breakfast with protein before doing all this testing. We talked a bit about our hopes for new jobs. We also talked about how nice it is to have some structure in the day. You spend your working days looking forward to vacation time and retirement, but the reality is that it is good to have somewhere you are expected to be and something worthwhile to do.

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Testing and More Testing

Today was day three of the five day job rehabilitation apptitude testing. My vocational therapist/coordinator got me into this testing program sooner because they had a cancellation.

I am not having fun.

It is a nice space, nice staff and only 4 of us are being evaluated. It is like doing a 5 day version of a SAT test with a few interviews mixed in. You get there, sit down and get handed a test booklet.  There are interest tests, basic skills, basic knowledge. There are vocabulary tests, mechanical aptitude tests, spelling tests, basic arithmetic,  harder math and math word problems to solve.
My eyes barely track together  across a page now, but that is nothing compared to what a question booklet and a separate bubble sheet can do to me.

I must say it really sucks to have my shortcomings  made so obvious to me....  and they haven't started showing me the analysis of the results.  

Yesterday there was  a strange little computer test to do. That one had a variety of skills to test with some of them timed. It was kind of part pick the best answer for spelling, synonyms, math and some that were more like a computer game. You move the square box over the shape that is similarly or differently shaped or colored as fast as you can.
Much to my shock I got none right and it set off an alarm that had the girl administering the test come and explain in person that the objective of that part of the test was to match the size of the box in the center with the same size of shape on the outside of the circle. Oh my goodness! I could not get it right! I had a flashback to an early days event when I was on the floor trying to match up a garbage bag of Tupperware containers and Tupperware lids. I wound up sitting there crying and not having a clue what was wrong and why I couldn't match them. (I now use zip seal bags or things with lids attached)

Today the test was something called the "The Canadian Adult Achievement Test"
It is a measure of an adult's current functional level in mathematics, reading and language. This battery of achievement tests has been designed specifically for the Canadian adult, regardless of his or her previous school experience. more here
It should take about 4 and a half hours, not including breaks.  I have huge cognitive math issues now and after 80 minutes of math I was barely functioning,  let alone recalling order of operation for algebraic statements.  My head was pounding, my left eye would no longer focus and I was seeing double. They sent me home at noon telling me that they will give me time to complete the other sections tomorrow but that the disastrous last hour from today is now a write-off.

Two more days to go.

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