I recently mentioned in a post on Facebook, I think it was, that a nurse in the neurology ward suggested that assembling LEGO sets of around 500 pieces would be useful in my recovery process since I was (and still am, though to a lesser extent) having trouble with fine motor skills.
This is when I found my LEGO Fairy (actually an incredibly generous family friend). Through private messages, we figured out which set would be best. She ordered it, and it arrived a few days later.
People can be absolutely wonderful.
My challenge: build the Sydney skyline, with the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Tower, and the Deutsche Bank Place, in very miniaturized form.
Pre-2017 me would’ve finished this task over two or so episodes of The Mindy Project between handfuls of popcorn and sips of green tea. Post-everything-that’s-happened me found the venture significantly more challenging.
It took, in fact, at least four times as long to complete as it would’ve a few short(ish) months ago. “Why, exactly?” the more curious of you might ask. Three reasons: 1) it was hard for me to follow the directions and locate the pieces specified in the instruction manual; 2) it was hard for me to grasp said pieces once I had located them, especially the smallest ones; 3) it was hard for me to put the pieces together once I had them in my hands and/or between my fingers.
In other words, I was suddenly just really bad at building LEGO.
It was somewhere mid-Harbour Bridge that my frustration grew to levels high enough that I was ready to give up. Following a few minutes of deep breathing and cookie eating, however, I willed myself to keep going. This was, after all, LEGO, one of my favourite things! If I could get my fingers and brain to work in harmony, I would have a beautiful addition to my embarrassingly large collection! That random nurse at the hospital told me that this was a good activity for my recovery!
After many hours and several more discouraging moments, I proudly stared at the simplified version of the Sydney skyline, in plastic brick form, in front of me. It was one of the most beautiful miniature toy reproductions I’d ever seen. Maybe I wasn’t so terrible at this whole LEGO thing after all.
Last night, I finished assembling the LEGO Chicago skyline, also a gift from the LEGO Fairy. Constructing it was a (slightly) different experience than taking on Sydney was. I was a little less exasperated at my recovering brain this time around, and I took it a little more slowly, stopping as soon as I observed that my fingers were doing their own thing rather than helping me become a Master LEGO Builder, my back-up career plan (after Master LEGO Designer). In other words, I noticed some improvement.
It’s only possible to close this post in one way: by stating how grateful I am to the LEGO Fairy for encouraging me to engage in this activity, which I used to think of as a quirky (for an adult) pastime, but which I now know can be part of my neuro-rehab routine. Thank you, friend, for facilitating my brick building, lesson learning, and brain healing.