One of the blessings and curses of my condition is that it seems to move around my brain, and give me different problems at a different times. At the moment I have such bad co-ordination. I can’t make a cup of tea without pouring a quantity of hot water and milk onto the cupboard top. I can’t throw anything at the waste paper bin a few feet away and hope to get it in. Even when I carry things around on a tray stuff starts leaping off and doorframes lurch suddenly towards my head. I could do these things last week no problem.
But last week it was the exaggerated startle reflex. People with CP think they know something about that, but it can’t be really bad with them or else they would all be nervous wrecks. My startle reflex is sometimes really bad and I am a nervous wreck. Of course it's not that I’m afraid of anything - what happpens is completely outside of my emotional experience, but it makes one feel nervous as well as physically weak, bewildered and generally humiliated.
I jump at every unexpected noise; the phone ringing, the microwave pinging, when one song has ended and another begins and almost every time [...] comes into the room – even when I walk into a room where he is and he happens to be closer to me than I expected him to be. [...] laughs and says I ought to visit planet Earth from time to time but it’s not very funny after the first three or four times your heart has leapt out of your ribcage, you’ve dropped something breakable and screamed at the postman. It wasn’t at all funny when the replica Endeavour was in the harbour and fired its cannon every two hours from ten ’til six!
Next week; who knows? My short-term memory is pretty good at the moment; I am not forgetting the washing I put in the machine, or the kettle I set boiling, or what I came into this room for. And my reading stamina is pretty good. I should not of course give the impression that only one problem arises at once; sometimes they come in groups. Co-ordination and the startle reflex thing often go together, my "temporary dyslexia" usually coincides with difficulty following spoken conversations and impaired memory likes to pair-up with tearfulness and a low mood. I could probably relate at least some of this to a map of the brain; some of it may be patterns I have imagined.
Britishness is also quite an affliction. It is bad enough thanking ATMs and saying “Pardon Me” when you burp when there’s nobody else around but yesterday I was laying in the bath and the bottle of stuff was at the other end. I couldn’t be bothered to sit up, so I picked the bottle up between my toes and passed it up to my hand. I then said “Thank You” out loud to my foot. I thanked my own foot.