Saturday, August 7, 2010

SRA Reading Programs and Chemo Brain

When I was attended Catholic elementary school we used the SRA reading program. It was an individualized reading program where you read a short story and answered multiple choice questions to check your reading comprehension. After completing the stories at one color level you would move on to the next color level. I remember the goal was to get to Purple (or was it Gold?) at your grade level and move on the next grade's program.

I loved to read back then and still do. One of the first things I did when I moved to our new home was to sign up for a Mercer County library card. Hightstown has this quaint brick library right by Peddie Lake. I've visited it a number of times since we moved in. I've borrowed cookbooks, novels , and a book on the history of Hightstown.

During my last visit to the library I noticed a book called A Kingdom Strange The brief and tragic history of the lost colony of Roanoke. I borrowed it because it deals with a similar time in history and region of Virginia that my son has researched for his master's thesis in history.

So I started to read it. I read the first 5 pages on the first day, started over on the second day and read the first 5 pages and 15 more. The next time I picked up the book a few days later I had to go back and read over the previous 2 pages to get my place. Frustrating. I noticed over the past 4 years that I can't remember details of what I read as well as I used too - I used to be a "Purple" level reader. I can remember themes but those details - character names, dates - they just are difficult for me to remember. Before I wrote the post on the Elizabeth Berg character I reread the last 5 chapters of the book. When I spoke to my son I told him I was reading the book. I also mentioned that I didn't know that the leader of the Roanoke colony committed suicide because he left the colony to get aid and when he returned everyone was lost. My son said " Mom - I wrote about that in my thesis" . I read his thesis about fear in Jamestown in the early 1600's twice so I was a bit upset that I did not remember that big detail.

I know that I am more easily distracted now. I need to write myself notes to remember to do things and I've started to take notes on long articles & books that I read so that I can remember content better. Maybe I don't remember because I am trying to do too many things at one time or that I am getting older. But I think a big portion of not remembering what I read is chemo brain. I seemed to have gotten worse after finishing the chemo for my recurrence.The American Cancer Society has an interesting page on chemo brain. I experience many of the symptoms listed there. As cancer survivors live longer we sure need more research into the issues of what causes chemo brain and ways to prevent it.

I enjoy reading too much to give it up so I'll just keep plugging away even if I am back at the "orange " level. I'll just reread things if I have too. And keep correcting and revising things that I write.

Every Day is a Blessing! I am blessed because I still have good eyesight and can read- even if I don't always remember what I read.

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