Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stroke Aphasia 0, Me 1

I had a stroke several years ago which affected my use of language. In short, I was unable to call forth the word I needed or wanted to use, in either spoken language (speech) or written language. Example: The word blue would not pop into my head. I wanted to express “blue” but could not for the life of me think of the actual literal word “blue.” I could describe blue (“the color of the sea or the sky”) but blue itself would not pop into my head. Needless to say, this limited my writing severely.

My speech was also affected. Words would not come to me when I wanted to express them. My sentences were halting, my speech was stilted and uneven. I perpetually sounded as if I were searching for the right words (which I was). I felt stupid. Even expressing a simple concept was painstaking and difficult. Every spoken interaction was a monumental effort.

Last night, I discovered a notebook that I used to write while I was in the hospital for my stroke episode. It is bizarre to read the language and see the penmanship, etc., in that notebook. The marked out sentences – example: I wrote “She offered to take [sic] out to lunch” and scribbled it out. Apparently what I intended to write was “She assisted with my gown, tying the strings correctly and seeing to it that my rear-end was covered.”

I wrote out the ending of my novel while in the hospital. This was a celebration, to find those words! I thought I had lost them in a corrupted computer file. Redemption, once more!

How I struggled, but kept writing. Example: “The phrophets roam the streets of America as they've done since the beginning of Time, and declare the Truth.” “Phrophets.” I am a meticulous speller. And of course, prophets have not roamed America's streets since the beginning of Time (America hasn't existed since the beginning of Time as an entity called America, nor have there been streets) – such a fallacious statement! But that's a sample of how hard it was for me to express what I wanted to convey.

But I kept writing, and I kept talking despite feeling embarrassment and without speech therapy other than what I provided for myself.

This was all compounded by the fact my MRI revealed no area of clot and so my doctor decided I probably didn't have a stroke. Um, well, yes – yes, I did! Or something, some phenomena took place that changed my entire world and how I expressed myself.

You may understand how this language barrier changed my writing. So when you compare my writing style now to my prior style, you will see a richness today where once existed a sparseness. Perhaps I use too many words nowadays – maybe I'm a little flowery with my language, a little scattered, less focused than I used to be. But I am just thankful to be able to express myself at last. It's a good thing.

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