“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.

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.

Frozen in mid-word – how the cold weather works against you when you have aphasia


 

We’re getting the last blast of winter on the second day of spring. Snow storms, high winds and sub-zero temperatures, which isn’t good for my aphasia.

How does the weather affect your ability to speak? Frozen lips, that’s how.

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Since my stroke almost three years ago destroyed a part of my brain, the communication part, leaving me similar to sounding as if I’m trying to talk with a mouthful of porridge while being strangled. Call it aphasia – everybody with a scientific mind does.

To talk, I find that I have to get my lips around the beginning sound of a word, completing one word, and the next one until I have a sentence. That’s normal for me with this aphasia gagging me. It’s even more frustrating because sometimes I have to stop to search my vocabulary for the right word, but then I find that I fall back on a synonym because it’s easier.

Inside my brain there's a mis-connection

Inside my brain there’s a mis-connection

Well this kind of weather means my lips get frozen which makes it harder to find even the beginning of a word.

The reason I come out in this blizzard? Me and the dogs.

Amoret, some of dogs, and me (photographer)

Amoret, some of dogs, and me (photographer)

I have to take my dogs on a daily walk – me too, to stay in shape. It’s rehabilitation.

Since when does reality speak a foreign language?


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Since having a stroke 2 ½ years ago I find I am constantly reminding myself of reality.

You know, the real reality, not just what you think it is.

Take the other day: I turned on the TV to catch up on the news, and what my brain-damaged mind heard was pure gobbeldy-gook. I could not make sense of what they were saying, things like: Penawdau newyddion a’r tywydd.

I wondered whether I was having another stroke.

But the real reality was I had mis-dialled the number on the remote and came up with S4C Welsh television.

Not long after that, I saw this from the BBC:
“Stroke sees Englishman wake up speaking Welsh – An 81-year-old man from Somerset who had a stroke woke up speaking Welsh”

Not everyone understands this reality of strokes.

Redoable – 2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.