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Monday, February 7, 2011

Aphasia: the worst nightmare

I think the worst thing is the aphasia. I miss talking to Bob. We used to talk, all the time, everyday, but especially every night at "porch sitting time". Every night, like clockwork, we sat on the front porch and talked about the day, or about politics, or the news, or what was happening with my writing or gossip in the neighborhood....

All that is gone.

He can speak. Somewhat. I know it must be frustrating for him, as I think, he knows what he wants to say but can't find the words. Or his mind gets stuck on one word and he will keep saying it. I can see the frustration in his face. I can't imagine what it's like for him to go through this--it's got to be like your worst nightmare. Trying to speak and not being able to. Sometimes he just says, "words, words." Often, he says "my minds, my minds!" He has also said, "my mind is gone." Usually, he gives up and says "whatever."

He tends to pluralize words. For example, when he is happy, he says "happies".

He tends to speak mostly with one word and a lot of pantomiming, i.e. pointing, gesturing, etc. It's like a chronic game of charades.

Yesterday, for 30 minutes or so, he kept pointing to his feet saying "movies". It took 30 minutes to figure out what he wanted was a different pair of socks.

A lot of the speech therapy he gets is "name the object". So, I do this when we are alone. I walk around the room and pick up things, saying, "what's this?" I hold up a book, "what's this?" He says, "turtles?" "Book," I say and he repeats it. "Books. Books." We try again. "What's this?" I say, pointing to the lamp. He says, "books?" "Lamp," I say and he repeats this: "Lamps. Lamps." We continue like this for a while, me saying, "What's this?" Bob trying to find the right word. If the cat walks through the room, I snatch him up and say "What's this?" He laughs and says "Ripley!" He does know the cats' names. But everything else is difficult. Speech therapy is also about counting numbers and saying days of the week. He gets stuck after Monday and keeps saying "Friday".  He can count to five, but after that it's difficult.

They tell me it takes time. He has improved. For the first month after the stroke, he did not speak at all. Only made grunts and garbled sounds. For a long time, I thought I would never hear his beautiful familiar voice again.

The night after his surgery, he had called me from the hospital. I was already in bed (exhausted) so the answering machine picked up. It was about 9:00 p.m. I heard his voice on the machine saying "Hey Sweets, It's me." That was what he always said when he called me. I picked up the phone that night and we talked for about a half an hour. He asked me to bring his razor in the morning. He said he felt fine. Indeed, he sounded fine. The next morning, when I arrived at the hospital, I found him in his bed. He had had a stroke and no one seemed to notice it until I came in. (Still, that pisses me off. I mean, he was in ICU, for crying out loud.) Anyway, for that first month afterward, I would come home nightly from the hospital and replay that answering machine message. Bob's sweet voice saying, "Hey Sweets, It's me." Me--standing in the kitchen, crying.

His first clear word was said on November 20th. He said, "No."

His vocabulary is now quite improved. He can say, "Hey" "Hello" "How are you?"  "Whatever." "yes" and "no", "I remember" "Yuck!" "OK" "Hurts" "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year", and "Boomer, Shut up!" to name a few---(that last one, to the dog when he barks.) Occasionally, he comes out with a very clear statement, but this is still rare. At least, now, he usually gets my name right. For a long time, he called me "Brenda", I have no clue why.

Today, we worked on "slippers" and "socks". He counted "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eighteen, nine, twenty."

One day at a time. One word at a time.

This week will be busy. Two doctors appointments and Thursday, a swallow video test. I pray he passes that, at least to the point he can start eating or drinking a little bit. Wish us luck.

1 comment:

Deb Morse said...

Thank you for posting these updates. You are both in my thoughts. I wish I were closer to try to be of some help to you... Sending you peace and strength and love. Deb