I had already designed a stroke recovery plan for myself on being released from hospital, but the NHS has experts they inflicted on me. They were called the Intermediate Care Team and they insisted on coming into my home.
Maria was my occupational therapist – she was alright. She figured
out I needed a hand-hold in the shower and wrote in my photocopied logbook:
“Client has recovered well. Independent in mobility and
transfers. Raise with physio to review mobility and right-sided neglect.”(Neglect!
It’s not like I am forgetting to do it)
A couple days later came Shona, the Rehab Technician or physio. You could tell she was coming because there was loud
bass on her car stereo. You could hear her coming from a block away, and she
parked front of the house and then did something in the car for five minutes,
letting all the neighbours know of her presence (and probably gesticulating the
way rappers do with their fingers askance, akin to the sign Crocodile Dundee
did with his fingers to calm wild animals).
On gaining admittance to my home,
she set about her profession with zeal instituting a “Mobility Care Plan. (NHS
Confidential: Personal Data about a Patient- 6347229196) Identifying falls risk
using Falls Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT)
template.” (Don’t ask me! Some orders from the hospital no doubt) “To allay
anxiety and instil confidence.”
Stand up. Sit down. Raise that arm up. Turn left; now right. Sit down. Drum your fingers on the table. Faster! You
need to do these exercises. Do them three times a day. If you get tired, rest a bit.
“Reduce environmental risks e.g. loose rugs, obstructing furniture.” Walk upstairs. Get in the bathtub. Sit on
the toilet. (You can keep your trousers on. Thanks.) Sit on the bed. Stand up.”
While walking make sure to turn face slightly towards the right to compensate
the visual disturbance. Wife to prompt this.” (The torture masters in the
hospital could have told me this)
And last, the third member of my Intermediate Care Team is Linda, Deputy Sisster (you’ve misspelled sister. I
know, it should be sister, but she spoke with a strong Scottish accent). Imagine
Mrs Doubtfire with fangs – she is first to induce utter frustration at my
condition and hatred for people like her, thusly:
Deputy Sisster: Are you getting
along fine since your stroke?
Me, with aphasia, trying to get a
word out, strangling consonants, finally spitting out the answer: Yeah.
Deputy Sisster: Try and pronounce
it correctly. This way: ye-ss.
I wasn’t sure I heard her
correctly. Was she trying to correct my speech? She was!
Deputy Sisster: Try it now – ye-ss.
She was most certainly trying to correct my speech! Me, who had delivered the news for CNN among others, taught people how to speak to
the media, to do interviews that made sense, how to perform on TV and radio for
The Open University, and as a pasttime called in to radio talk shows to practice outrageous American accents. Now, with the stroke leaving me with aphasia, this blue-uniformed Mrs Doubtfire, was trying to correct my speech.
Amoret could see the frustration and anger in me and tried to diffuse it explaining my background and saying I
had a problem in speaking, not saying much. She explained I was American and I
talked that way: ”yeah”.
I never will forget her response: ”Well, I’ll get him talking – he may even wind
up with a Scottish brogue. Ha, ha, ha”.
I couldn’t speak. True, I had aphasia, but I wanted to speak. I wanted to let out the most foul swear words I had at my disposal and I have a
copy of Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue and in French, Merde Happens, and the
list my media students found informative when I was teaching. So there’s no
shortage of rude words I could hurl at her, but I couldn’t speak. The
rage built up inside until my face turned red and it felt like, cartoon-like,
steam came from my ears. Words would not come out because of the aphasia thing
and all I could do was turn away from Mrs Doubtfire and face the wall and
ignore her. I know, very petulant, but it felt good at the time and gave me
some control over this nightmare woman.
But aphasia did not take away my body
language and I folded my arms, turned my face to effoff (as my friend Guy
Bailey put it) and sputtered something unintelligible when I really meant you “pauncy
puke-stockinged foul deformity.” (Shakespeare had a way with words) I refused
to have anything to do with her.
Amoret got rid of her and we complained to the Intermediate Care Team supervisors by telephone. She never came again
and if she had, I wouldn’t have let in her in the door. I never heard from the
Intermediate Care Team again. The neighbourhood was quiet again.