“There are moments which mark your life – moments you
realise will never be the same, and time is divided into two parts – before
this and after this.” – Fallen
I wrote that down several years back in my writer’s diary as
something that meant something to me. It only emerged now to stare at me with
the glaring high-beam of realisation that I could say this about my stroke. For
there is a “before this,” and “after this” about my situation.
Before this stroke I could talk intelligently and think
straight. “After this” I’m virtually mute, struggling to get vowels out with
scrambled eggs for brains. Thanks to whoever that writer is (I can’t name them
as a source but I’m working on it. I’m thinking possibly Dean Koontz or James
Herbert) but they put my current life into a compact phrase. I may even get it
made into T-shirts.
“After this” I’m relying on my speech therapist Catherine to
help change that gloomy, but accurate outlook. I have weekly appointments and special
exercises to practice.
When I first went in I couldn’t blow up my cheeks. (It took
two weeks of trying)
I couldn’t coordinate my sticking my tongue out of my lips
from left to right repeatedly. (Although I practiced for several weeks, indeed
months, I still can’t do it properly and I’ve dismissed it as something I don’t
really need on my CV)
I had problems with remembering words – I’d just come to a
spot in a (very short) sentence and I couldn’t remember the word I needed and
I’d spend five minutes trying to find it, or a synonym, or even the first
letter of the word I was searching for. I sounded like a sound track of King
George VI just starting to practice for the King’s Speech.
And I learned to break a word up into syllables (sy-al-bles)
if I stumbled over it. I was getting better at Catherine’s sight games – naming
a picture such as a car, or bee, or train. So much so that I was graduated to
the game where it’s a word and you have to come with a synonym – sometimes I
could even come with four or five synonyms.
(Taken from the synonym test, exercise two)
It sounds simple, but looking back on the exercise, this,
more than anything, got me back to a balanced brain, or least one I could work
with. It enables me to have a voice (albeit silent) in writing re-doable. It
let me think the orderly thoughts that came up with the name “re-doable” for a
blog title – that the brain can be re-doable, re-loaded, refreshed after a
As creativity started flowing into my brain, trickle is
probably a better word as it wasn’t a tidal surge, I no longer had an image of
my brain like this one.
And I quit using the phrase “doh!”