Recrudescence – to become raw again

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I haven’t on the blog for awhile because I’ve been on holiday.

Well, if you count 365 plus days of time off as holidays.

Relaxing on remote beach

Truth is, I’ve been lazy.

Every day some topic would enter my mind and I’ve thought: that would make a good blog. Then it would exit my mind just as quickly, like some stray leaves blowing about in the wind and I did not rake them up and deliver them to you.


Then this week, there came fluttering into my inbox a personal message from Anu Garg, [] my personal word guru. He said unto me: Recrudescence.


And he did not just it leave it for me to look up. No, he explained that it was from Latin recrudescere (to become raw again), from re- (again) + crudescere (to get worse), from crudus (raw).


And this wasn’t one those trendy ‘new’ words entering the English language that suddenly is uber cool to use. Nor is it known to Russell Brand to obfuscate you with. No, Abu went on to explain the earliest documented use of recrudescence was in 1665 the year before the Great Fire in London.


The word recrudescence is a noun, meaning a renewed activity after period of dormancy.


What I think Abu was saying is: get off your ass and start writing again, in the nicest way possible way of course.


That is what I am doing.


I should mention that the effects of my stroke haven’t gone away in the past year. I still can’t talk properly (that’s called aphasia for the new kids on block), still weak on the right side (Left partial anterior circulation stroke – May 2010. It means that the right side of my body was affected ­­­ – I veer to the right when walking. My mouth doesn’t work properly on the right side, my right arm doesn’t have the strength it used to, I can’t lift my right leg far enough to get my trousers on. All this and I still exercise the dogs every day.

And typing. Whereas I used to be able to bang out a 5,000 word story in about  45 minutes, it now takes me 90 minutes to get this far in blogging. And that I’m sure is part of reason I put off blogging, because I felt  ‘re-doable’ wasn’t working for me. All those health professionals at the time of my stroke were saying if you work at rehabilitation you can get your life back – it’s another lie.

To quote Kevin the Teenager: It’s not fair.

But to quote Oscar Brown Jr:

Ooo shhhhiiiii ooow ooow ooow
What? Oh what are you gonna do with me?
Ooo wow uh
But I was cool



I’m proposing a new word for 2014

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for the entire story!

I invented this word purely to get in the face of the originators of the word “selfie,” because the word I’m proposing doesn’t have the narcissism, self-absorption and ego.

“Selfies” originators  were then egged-on by the Oxford English Dictionary which made “selfie” the “word of the year for  2013″ which only celebrated the vacuous planet of celebrity and party-goers and its St Elmo’s fire of notoriety and does nothing to further the English language. Some forms of “Selfies” can be dangerous as people now use their mobiles/cell phones as a new form of mirror with which to measure their form of reality.

The word I’m proposing is shadowies – a picture of your shadow in various poses that leaves the “me” out of the photograph, allowing only the essence of you. It’s similar to Victorian silhouettes but with more scope for artistry all without worrying about combing your hair, or even what you wearing, or make-up, or skin imperfections.

Dependent on how the light strikes you, you can be tall or short, thin or thin-challenged. It’s the perfect anonymous portrait. You don’t have your silly duck-faced photos living on in internet eternity.

Go back into the shadows and lose yourself in the anonymity.

Here are some I took earlier.

Welcome to the city of Stroke-ville – where more times are bad than good

I did a lot of reading about strokes since one landed uninvited on my doorstep.

My daughter T gave me a book for that first Christmas following my stroke: Stroke Survivor, A Personal Guide to Recovery, by Andy McCann, and there’s a tone in it that everything is wonderful. Oh, there are tough times, Andy says, but he barely mentions any.

(I stopped reading about halfway through for fear the additional sugar overload would affect my diabetes)

There is no writing about the destruction of ego when what has always been with you departs; no frustration as you try to re-grip the old reality; try to get some purchase on trying to grab the phantom that is your old way of life; no writing of the emptiness of soul as you contemplate life without speech and limited mobility. You cannot see a tunnel, much less a light at the end it.

No, everything is hunky-dory with “positive thinking” the way Andy sees stroke survival.

And because he’s a Chuck Norris kind of man – martial arts and all that.

Because he survived and made a business of survival by saying positive things to people for large sums of money.

Maybe that’s the way The Stroke Association sees things – in its own sphere around which its version of the world revolves, the centre of which is The Stroke Association. Sure there are inspirational stories, but you’ve got take the bad times with the good. It’s called objectivity. And, objectively, I can say there more bad times than good in the city of Stroke-ville.

Then, in reply to my outraged emails I got a shovel-full of “apologies” and “unreserved apologies at any distress it may have caused me.” There was even an invitation to contact their media person to see how I might contribute. I thought I had explained that. There’s even a comment to this blog saying they apologise for ignoring me and try contacting their new editor (she’s “keen to hear from you” – that’s why they gave me a generic email rather her personal account).

I certainly didn’t expect to get involved in a dispute with The Stroke Association when I had a stroke. I thought they would be on my side. Now they’veapologised“.

Still, I can’t forget the line:  As you have not used our services and due to the demand, I regret we are not able to take your request further.”

I remember Kate Allatt, who came back from Locked-in Syndrome, re-telling of her feelings of total worthlessness, worthiness, helplessness, indignity, her complete reliance on family members and the guilt that consequently created, fear, the nightmares, the torments, the insomnia, the leg cramps and insufficient turning in her bed, the frustration… She could go on.

And so could I.

In fact, fellow stroke blogger Mindpop said it best:

Mindpop has made me famous. This past weekend, I was invited to Salt Lake City to speak for the Utah Stroke Symposium, thanks to a Mindpop reader.

I told the doctor and therapist audience to be encouraging to their patients. I haven’t always had encouraging care. Watch out, heartless medical staff, your patients are speaking.”

Watch out too charities. Those affected have a voice.

“Strange how some charities find it hard to let service users in.”

It still just sticks in my mind like a bad dream, or toffee that gets stuck in your fillings.

“Unfortunately, not everyone can become a media volunteer because of the sheer volume people.”

All I asked for was a chance to contribute my talents to The Stroke Association – free! I wasn’t asking for pay or commission. I was just glad that my brain was functioning again (almost) although my hands were not. I wanted to contribute to the organisation that was set up to make people aware of strokes. Possibly I could contribute. If only they would talk to me.

Yet she said: “As you have not used our services.” But I had, and paid £2 for the service, and the editor came to us to ask what should be in their magazine.

She added: “due to the demand, I regret we are not able to take your request further.” Did she even read my email? Well, better yet, did she understand it?

She added: “Unfortunately, not everyone can become a media volunteer because of the sheer volume people.”

I didn’t ask to be a volunteer. I wanted to contribute.

Jo, a speech therapist who follows me, recognises something in my writing. She wrote: “Reading these blogs is the closest you can get to understanding aphasia from the inside.”

A former work colleague, Jane, who follows my writing said: “Strange how some charities find it hard to let service users in.”

Then, I found this unattributed quote:

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Now I’ve got find a 150 watt bulb.

Now I can explain in words what this thing in my brain does. They call it aphasia.

If you’ve ever wondered  what it’s  like to live with aphasia, I’ve found the words that explain it best to me. And it’s compiled by just stacking six books. Stan Carey, at Sentence First, you are a wonder.

Forest of symbols

The forest of symbols,
The eye beguiled:
Tree of smoke

Through the language glass,
Everything you know
Lost in translation.

That’s worth keeping in my never-ending jar of unforgettables.

And to think Mrs Doubtfire tried to correct my aphasia

It’s enough to send Ghandi to anger management courses

After about a month or so, The Stroke Association returned my email. Joanna filled me in.

Zoe, the editor of the newsletter had left her job and they just realised I was trying to get in touch (I also sent email copies to  info  and  mediateam  which should have been picked up). But, what really made me angry; what was enough to send Ghandi to anger management was Joanna’s wording:

“Unfortunately, not everyone can become a media volunteer because of the sheer volume people. As you have not used our services and due to the demand, I regret we are not able to take your request further.”

Well that told me.

But I didn’t ask to be ‘a media volunteer.’ I was asked by one of their employees at the time, at a Stroke Association meeting, to suggest stories for the quarterly newsletter. I composed my email making a cogent, professional pitch that took me over an hour for typing and editing because of stroke-induced limitations.

Without knowing anything about me and what I have to offer, (reading my emails would have given them a clue which included among other things 45 years in journalism and public relations, EMMY™ award for television writing, professional photographer), I’m thrown on the local volunteer’s heap and told not to bother the ‘professionals’.

Well, I resent their unprofessional tone.

I got the names of the ‘professionals’, figured out their emails addresses, and sent them an obscenity-free (but strongly and emotional worded) email telling them that. I included some quotations from the National Aphasia Association bill of rights (it’s an American group, but the effects of stroke are global) explaining how I felt; that because my “difficulty communicating, people with aphasia may experience great isolation and frustration in their daily lives.”

Then I added The Stroke Association promise: “will help thousands of people affected by stroke to rebuild their lives… improve the quality of life of those who become disabled.” It’s on their website.

One other thing. As part of its service, The Stroke Association offers grants to help people get on with their lives. I had applied for a grant to get re-tested for driving, which involved Amoret and I meeting with a local woman and divulging all our financial shortcomings and was told she’d let us know the outcome in a couple of weeks. That was three months ago.

I’ve noticed there’s a pattern here with The Stroke Association – they ignore you.

That’s when I decided to write a blog. The inside story of what a stroke is really like. None of this sugar-coated stuff. Sure, I was glad to be alive, but it is frustrating what you have put up with.

“Writing is really cathartic. You have all this stuff rattling around in your brain and you need to put those thoughts down on paper, or the computer. Then you share them with the world and a community comments and says, ‘I’ve been thinking about that too’. Your thoughts create this larger audience of conversations.”

-Joanne Wilson

Self-doubt creeps in

I saw this during the week and I forgot to write down where it came from. I’m sorry, I’m using it without attribution, but it perfectly illustrates my mind at this point in time. Comment to me and the glory is yours for such an image!

“No thought has much meaning until it is written or spoken” – Harry Reasoner, CBS & ABC News anchorman

Reasoner was one of my writing heroes (along with Charles Kuralt). Harry and I had a glass of wine or two together in the basement in the building of where ABC News was broadcast from New York City in the early 70’s. He wasn’t as erudite at this meeting as I remember; he was supposed to be talking me into working for ABC News. But this quote from some stage of his long career rang true: I could think all I wanted about this Stroke Association project that I had created in my mind, but until I wrote something it wouldn’t have real meaning. ‘Spoken for meaning’ was not an option due to the stroke erasing my brain-to-tongue function. I think they call it aphasia.

Which brings us to the situation at hand: still no word from The Stroke Association about them using my extensive media career to its advantage.

One research project is now out suggesting there is a good chance people who have had strokes also have resulting depression. “Researchers defined depression as among other things: loss of interest and pleasure in doing things; feelings of sadness, helplessness and hopelessness…”

Well, I have the interest, but I’m feeling helpless at not getting the attention of The Stroke Association and that is leading to hopelessness.

This is really getting me down.

Maybe I am past my sell-by date, over-the-hill, or, dare I mention it, disabled by the stroke.

I re-sent the emails. As Del Boy said: “You know it makes sense.”