I wrote the following in direct response to “A Letter from Your Brain.”
I received the letter that you recently sent. I apologize for not get back to you sooner. It seems that I am not so good at juggling life’s multiple priorities – participating in cognitive therapy, completing homework, creating a future plan, studying for a certification exam, enhancing my online dating profile, building memory and processing skills, returning phone calls and email, paying bills, lifting weights, walking, and re-learning how to play chess. If I had not specifically set aside this time to respond to your letter, I don’t know when I would have found the time to write.
I want to thank you for your openness, honesty, and sincerity. It is nice to hear you still care about me, and you will continue to support me in every way you can, in spite of the fact I was the one who authorized the surgeons to forcibly enter your home. According to my doctors, I had to subject you to the surgery if I wanted to reduce the likelihood that the tumor would kill you. I feel terrible my authorization resulted in surgeons bullying you; hurting you; destroying your confidence; changing the way you work; and leaving you under the constant surveillance of a shunt. I am glad to hear that you don’t hate me for making the decisions I made. I hope you understand that I agreed to the surgeries because I could not imagine life without you.
Even though I am confident we will overcome the obstacles we now face, I sometimes experience negative thoughts about our present and future as a result of my memories about our past. I hope you have the desire, strength, ability, and patience to help me work through the following thoughts:
1. I resent the fact your deficits are hindering my recovery.
2. I don’t like the fact you are not remembering information very well and you have not automatically upgraded to a more powerful memory module.
3. I hate the fact you are causing me to calculate possibilities and options from scratch since you refuse to retain memories.
4. I’m tired of spending so much time doing what previously required only seconds.
5. I would like you to remember the facts, names, and faces you lost, as well as store information about the facts, names, and faces you encounter in the future.
6. I feel sad that I can’t wave a magic wand to instantly cure all of the harm that has been done to you.
7. I feel like many of your difficulties are due to decisions I made.
8. I am disappointed you have to work so hard now to enjoy playing a game of chess, solving a puzzle, and answering a question.
9. It hurts me to think about your difficulty in coping with this strange, new world.
10. I want to find a cure for the memory, processing, and fatigue issues that prevent you from being all that you can be.
11. I feel afraid you might hate me for what has happened to you.
12. I’m afraid that I am not doing enough to make you feel better, get better, and perform better. I feel I need to do more, but I don’t know what to do.
13. I don’t know how to make things better, but I am trying to find a solution.
14. I want to help you excel in your new environment since the “professionals” tell me that there is an impenetrable wall preventing us from returning to the place where we were previously comfortable.
15. I need your help as we explore this new environment together.
16. I feel badly that I did not question the doctors more before exposing you to the surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments.
17. I’m sorry my decisions resulted in your pain.
18. I regret that I did not consider alternative approaches to helping you obliterate the tumor.
19. I wish I could make all of your pain go away.
20. I want to be your friend and work with you to better understand and accept the world that we now see.
21. You are always on my mind – actually, you are my mind. I think of you often, and I am doing everything that I can to improve our health, strength, memory, and processing. If you know of a strategy that will speed up the recovery process, please share the strategy with me. I appreciate your help, understanding, and encouragement.
~ Scott Friedman, Resolution Letter to My Brain, 4/18/2006
If you respond to “A Letter from Your Brain” what would you say? How would your answer differ if you are a family member, significant other, co-worker, neighbor, or friend who is writing a letter to the survivor’s brain?