Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why Dyscalculia is easier to spell than 2045739418

Are you in the habit of dialing all ten digits for local calls yet? Me neither. No matter how painlessly MTS eases us into it, I don’t think it will become habitual until long after it’s absolutely required. 

It has always been cause for a party when I dial a phone number correctly on the first try, even with only seven digits. Now I must remember ten? Somebody shoot me.

I’ve long held the opinion that there are three types of people in the world: those who understand numbers and those who don’t.

Words make sense. They mean something. Numbers are like ancient hieroglyphics—meaningless without an interpreter. My brain contains memory space for precisely three phone numbers, and right now that space is occupied by home, work, and 911. I consider it God’s good humour that landed us the simplest-to-remember phone number in the history of the world nearly 30 years ago. We dare not move. This probably explains why I don’t own a cell phone, too.

As for calculators, I can punch in the same column of numbers three times and find three different answers. I just keep at it until I get the same number twice and go with that.
When my friend Gayle told me there is a name for this mathematical deficiency (Dyscalculia), I felt so much better. It always helps to give your problem a name.

You can imagine the trepidation I felt when I learned the Continuing Education program I’m working through for my job included two Accounting courses. I left them for last. Last fall was time to tackle the first, and I looked for excuses to procrastinate. But with the two courses offered alternate years only and time running out, I dived in.

I studied like crazy. Saturday mornings were spent banging my head on the kitchen table with textbooks, computer, pencil, and reams of paper spread out before me. I did every exercise and some of them twice.

Yes, there were tears.

Lucky for me, I married a genius. He helped me figure out a couple of problems when I had no more hair left to pull. When even he found them puzzling, I felt much better.

It didn’t hurt to have our own Nettie Neudorf as the instructor, either.

When my grade came back from U of M in the spring, I nearly flipped. A-plus! Now there’s a number I understand.

Was it a mistake? A fluke? A miracle? I’m going with that last thing.

This month I’m embarking on the second, still more challenging Accounting course. If I make it, I will graduate in May with a Certificate in Manitoba Municipal Administration. Having not graduated from anything since high school 147 years ago, I am pretty pumped about this prospect. Already considering what I’ll wear. Is that counting my chickens before they hatch? If so, I’d better count again.

Here’s what I do know. This column is #52 in my second year of writing it, which makes it an anniversary and time for a give-away. If you would like a free, autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life! email me at with the words “Book Draw” in the subject line. (I wrote one of the stories in this book.) All email senders’ names will go into a draw and one will be drawn on Monday, September 17, at 3:00 PM.

Just my way of saying “thanks for reading.”


  1. Loved this post!! I'm with you on the number thing, never liked them, never will! Thanks for the giveaway offer. Would love to win it!

  2. Thank you Terrie and Gayle, for providing a name for me to add to my collection of diseases, syndromes, and "challenges". Dyscalculia. I asked my neurosurgeon if he could take a look at the mathematical section of my brain and see if there was a loose wire.

    1. Karen, what you may lack in number skills, you more than make up for in wit. Leave the wires where they are.