Long-term memory for the win!


It’s a little-known fact that I studied Spanish Literary Translation  along with violin performance during my time in New York. Violin was obviously the reason I went to Rochester, but literature has always been my second love – and Spanish, my third. It made sense to start working on a translation certificate as a side gig since musicians are famous for needing the occasional financial “pick me up”.

It’s a better-known fact that I have a severe traumatic injury (TBI). I have residual deficits, but significantly fewer than predicted. My lingual abilities should be reduced,  so I’ve consistently surprised doctors by testing much higher than a normal level for grad students my age.

So what have I been doing during my six months of solitude? Reading. Reading a lot. In addition to all my English reading ( ❤ ❤ ❤ ), I decided it might be fun to check on  my Spanish skills. Ivan (always the attentive husband) caught on to my curiosity and surprised me with a copy of Cien Años de Soledad, the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Gabriel García Márquez. (The title translates as “100 Years of Solitude”.) I’d enjoyed this novel – in English – as a college freshman,  but it was my first attempt in the original Spanish. Also, I’d forgotten much of the plot, so the probability of reading via cheating was low. Guess what? Good ole’ long-term memory kicked in, and I just finished it yesterday. Oh, and it was 495 pages long. Some honest disclaimers: 1) it took me 2.5 months (slow for me) and 2) it turned into half reading “normally” and half translating (my Spanish skills are way rustier than they were 5 years ago!).

It’s an entirely unknown fact that I woke up from the accident unable to read at all. I remember one morning when I glanced around my hospital room  and was startled both that I could read again and also that I’d been unaware  I couldn’t read before. Until that moment I’d taken for granted that all those signs and labels around me were filled with jumbled, meaningless letters. I was too groggy to remember those letters actually meant something to everyone else, and too groggy to care they meant nothing to me.  Then, one morning I woke up and suddenly realized all those letters made words – words I understood. “Huh,” I thought. “I guess I couldn’t read before.” I was still too groggy to think it was a big deal and I forgot to tell anyone what had happened. Friends and family (unaware of the situation) brought me some books to read in the hospital, but it was still too much brain work to make it through even one page. I quickly gave up trying.  To go from struggling with a page of my native language to reading an entire,  complex novel in a second language is a giant gift from the Lord. I still can’t believe how much He continues to bless my recovery!

Now, to work on those speaking skills…

PS. In case you’re wondering, the title “100 years of solitude” is ironic only by accident. I don’t compare my current semi-solitude with 100 years of solitude in any way 😉

PPS. We’ll be sure to keep sharing seizure updates as they develop.

2 thoughts on “¡495 Pages in Spanish!

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