“I am not drunk! I have aphasia!” (Yes, I’ve been asked about having had too much to drink.) In December 2011, while in the hospital following surgery for a new pacemaker/defibrillator, I had a stroke that left me with weakness on the right side of my body. I could not speak.
With time, speech therapy, and practice, things are coming together, but speech is still a chore, especially grammar and putting words together. My brain is so overworked sometimes that just trying to think of what word goes next and what makes sense is hard for me.
According to the National Aphasia Association, aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is due to injury to the brain, most commonly from a stroke. Brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.
Feelings not included in the textbook definition that describe what I often find myself thinking about aphasia include:
- Loss of self-esteem
- Emotional complications
- Short attention span
- Give me time, please!
All choices are hard; I change my mind so many times at a restaurant that I still don’t get what I want! Social settings are hard because I am always on guard, trying to anticipate what is coming next or what I should be saying. I miss out on conversations because I can’t listen fast enough. In fact, I don’t do anything fast anymore! Even math and numbers, which used to be second nature to me, are a challenge.
But I am comforted by Christ’s presence, and his peace keeps me from feeling overcome with bitterness or anger.