“Why don’t you talk normal?”


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My grandson Arthur asked me today, “Why don’t you talk normal?”

I didn’t take as a personal affront because he’s only four. So I explained to him that I’d had a brain attack and so I couldn’t speak properly. He asked: “Does it hurt?”

I answered no.

But then I got thinking about it and yes, Arthur, it does hurt.

Not being able to communicate effectively does hurt – psychologically.

It hurts trying to find the words when you need them. I swear I would struggle trying to find the words HELP if I was under duress.

It hurts trying to find the words to tell someone about emotions I’m experiencing.

It hurts having to search for words. My brain allows only one at time to come out – kind of like a parking lot barrier, keeping words inside until each has been paid for emotionally.

But to answer your next question Arthur, and there is always a next question  –

No, I don’t need a plaster for it.

(also at http://redoable.co.uk)

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What’s another word for synonym?


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I have confessed before to being a crossword addict.

It started when I was young, watching my father do them, asking the reasoning behind an answer. Later, I did it because I thought it would help me become a writer/author/reporter. I figure if you’re going into a war with words you need all the ammunition you can get, or that’s what told myself.

Truth be told, I enjoyed the mental exercise.

The crosswords I do are simple – find a synonym for a word  – none of those cryptic crosswords like: ‘Marie Curie birthmark. Second born in a litter of otters.’

No, mine are simple synonyms like: strong taste = tang; bode= augur;  offensive = odious. If I don’t get the word right away, chances are some other letters in the crossword will make it clear. It helped when I was writing to come up with the right word.

Then, I was visited by the stroke. And the resulting aphasia, a new word for me.  It means that the ease with which I could command words was frozen in my brain, or least the compartment where words were kept was locked and did not have the key, nor the password, nor even a clue how to free/extricate/disentangle it.

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These days there are all kinds of electronic programmes/apps/courses, mostly involving a £300 plus iPad, which help you rescue/resuscitate/ your lost speech. For less than a pound (the cost of a daily paper), I offer a less electronically solution. My speech therapist, Catherine, started me by suggesting finding synonyms out loud.  I immediately thought of crosswords.

If you say the clue and the answer aloud it helps with your diction, and the penmanship helps with residual effects of paralysis, so you get a course of rehab.

Where else can you get a one-stop solution?

And don’t say: I’ve got an app for that.

Recrudescence – to become raw again


(Please follow me at the new and improved site  http://redoable.co.uk)

 

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, [wsmith@wordsmith.org] 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.

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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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dheVr7Wdrro

 

I’m proposing a new word for 2014


Please go to my new site http://redoable.co.uk

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.

Aphasia


After month of induced aphasia awareness (as ordered by the US Congress) I’m convinced I am never going to be cured of aphasia.  It leaves me feeling like this Eric Johanssen photo.

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thank you facefistcopyright-2011-erik-johansson-all-rights-reserved.jpg

Aphasia: Not with a mouse, not with a fox


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June being the month for all people to be aware of the condition known as aphasia (as ordered by the US Congress) I find that I’m getting worse, not better.

I wrote earlier about being exposed to the term asphasia (The Chronicles of Aphasia – How I discovered aphasia when all I had was trouble speaking because of a stroke).

Frankly it’s a big job touting the world for people to understand the term and the condition that has so many variables. The best example is the mantra that aphasia is a loss of language, not a loss of intellect.

I keep telling myself that, yet day by day, I can feel what little communications I have slipping away. I find it harder and harder to pronounce words – to ‘mouth’ words – get my tongue around them and get them out. I used to have problems thinking of the words, but that’s better. Given time I can find the words I need.

I have had three years of practice to build on the fried brain residue, to practice getting better, only to find it’s getting worse. Once again, the experts lied when they said I would improve my speech by putting in the hours of rehab. And yet “scientists” say the brain re-wires itself given time and exercise. Mine, apparently, hasn’t caught up with science.

But still I haven’t given up. Recently I had my grandson Arthurarthur to stay overnight and I found that he was entertained by my reading Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr Seuss.

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I remember reading the story to my daughter Katie (long ago, Before Stroke) and she loved it when I went fast, increasing the frustration and mild anger through the words to the ever-present question posed by Sam-I-Am:

I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox
I do not like them in a house
I do not like them with a mouse
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

(And I maintain that I’ve not lost my intellect.)

I sailed through the words, Post Stroke. In fact I was so enamoured by my voice during the chorus, I got louder and louder (I was really getting into the method acting), that Amoret shushed me from the patio lest the neighbours the other side of the brick wall think we were arguing.

The neighbours, Mr and Mrs Homo Neanderthalensis, never let on that I would not have it with mouse or a fox, nor Amoret’s strange recipes.

Truthfully, I was knocked back by the admonition.

I was really feeling the power of my voice. For the first time I felt free of the tyranny of aphasia.

Thinking about that reading again, it wasn’t that the pronunciation was all that clear (I have aphasia remember), but the timbre, pitch (psychoacoustics) and cadence gave me freedom to wildly express myself much the same as Brian Blessed.

And Arthur was impressed.

I plan to read more Seuss, aloud, much the same way I did when began this rehabilitation. I hope to get that feeling of freedom of communication back – and who cares what the neighbours think.

Blogging about a stroke – it’s not research, it’s therapy


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Ever since I was turned down by researchers for Botox to the hands, I keep running into other ways I could be involved in stroke-related research.

I got a message on my blog wondering if I’d like share my blog with a study by Speech and Language Therapists doing a Masters project at City University London.

Is a bear Catholic?

“I am contacting you because we wish to analyse your blog in our theses. The name of the project is

Blogtalk: the impact of aphasia on people’s lives.”

Well have I got something to say about impact of aphasia on people’s lives. And it’s all right here in my book: What if you spend your whole life speaking and writing and woke up to find it was gone? (Special offer, limited time only, exclusive for readers of this blog – £9.99 plus postage of £4.95, call it £15 quid)

Seriously, there is no charge, as you know if you’ve been following my misadventures. But it illustrates how such an event will take away even the ability to earn money. And that’s just the beginning.