I don’t remember not being able to read, or finding it anything other than fun. I was a lucky child, always happy with a book.
So it is annoying – I mean really annoying – that I struggle to read books for pleasure now. Reaching out for a book has lost its appeal.
I can’t follow a line of text automatically. I see the whole line, the whole right hand side of the page even, all in one slippy jumble (as with many MS symptoms, this is tricky to explain). Bigger writing is better because there are fewer words to focus on, not because I can’t read small print. (I’ve got glasses, but only for screen work).
It is a loss of discrimination, I suppose. I don’t know if the problem was caused by a bout of optic neuritis or damage to some scrap of neurons responsible for following text (it will be the size of a pea, under my left ear, no doubt).
Some days are better than others and, luckily, reading on a screen is much easier; there is a stronger contrast and I can make the text bigger. And we scan, rather than read, words on our desktops, phones and iPads.
It’s been sneaking up on me, subtle, nasty symptom that it is. Before my diagnosis, I didn’t understand why I was failing to finish book after book, because I wasn’t ‘enjoying’ them. I felt a bit dim to be honest.
So now I’ve worked it out, I’m trying some solutions.
Don’t get me a book token – get me an Audible voucher! I’ve been devouring audio books. With a good narrator, it can be wonderful story-telling and I imagine the characters and scenes with a vividness I don’t when reading. I can get lost again.
And, to be more prosaic, I’m trying out a bar magnifier from the RNIB shop. It is a slinky perspex rod, with a built-in guide line, and it’s helped me read newspapers comfortably for the first time in ages. It is most effective on the flat, so not ideal for books – but it’s a start. I going to ask for a low vision assessment too, to get some expert advice on what could help.
I feel more empathy now for people who find reading ‘hard’, in a way I never experienced as a kid. Reading meant a good story, rather than a confusing effort. At least I don’t have grown-ups telling me to make an effort.
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.
Walk training: Though I’ve been on the back foot with this for a week, we managed about 5k on Saturday, and have big plans for next weekend.