Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Bond. James Bond."

In college, I was introduced to philosophy and psychology. Freud and "Ego, the Id, and the Super Ego." The fundamental notion that "l think, therefore I am" by Rene Descartes.

But, what happens when you do not know your name? If you do not know your name, the word "Mark" is nothing. And, "Dunham?" What is a "Dunham."

When my stroke happened, "I could think, therefore I as was a conscious being" but I had no clue about my name.

"Bond. James Bond." I could have been named James Bond for all I knew.

In the hospital, everyone was telling me that "I am Mark Dunham. Mark Patrick Dunham." I had no reason to doubt my family, friends, doctors, and therapist, but I was not capable to understand the connection between language, letters, and my name.

I could not conceive what the alphabet was even if I could understand my name.

In the initial days of my therapy, the therapists would firmly try to connect the dots. What is the "alphabet?" What do those symbols mean? Before I could think about my name, I had to remember letters.

Those early frustrating days when I could remember "A" and "Z" but nothing in between. At the same time, the therapist were trying to connect me with anything. Over and over they would say "comb, hammer, tooth brush, etc." Days passed. Over and over.

This was one the hardest things I have ever experienced.

I cried because I could not say, express, and remember my families names. I blocked out my name. All I wanted to do was to remember "Heather" and "Ethan." I realized that they were my wife's and my son's names, but the concept of the "letters" of "Heather or Ethan" were simply gone.

One day when I cried, I begged one of the therapists to print flash cards saying "Heather and Ethan."

I practiced a lot, and I realized in my head that "H, E, A" had common letters.

Then, the "comb" and the "hammer" struck a chord in me. My dad had a black comb. My brothers and my grandfathers were carpenters.

It was fuzzy at best, but it was a glimmer of hope for me. "Heather. Ethan. Dad. Comb. Hammer. Brothers." Letters. Words. Concepts.

It was so slow going. ABCD.....XYZ. Filling in the blanks. Over months.

"Mark." What is a "Mark." I should have had a better name!

Just a glimmer. "I AM Mark Dunham." My identity is "Mark Dunham."

As the months progressed, I remembered the alphabet in stages. Even know, the letters "P" and "K" are odd to me. It took me months to comprehend "Patrick," my middle name. I walk a lot, and say over and over "Mark Dunham" and the alphabet.

It is getting so much better.

But, numbers are a different story! Or a different blog post.

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