Aphasia Stories

Roger’s Story

Roger suffered a stroke in May 2007, which left him with aphasia. Below is Roger’s story, in his own words.

Today is the annual of my head trauma – my stroke. Fortunately I had no physical impairment, but I lost all but all (sic) language – couldn’t speak, write or read and couldn’t remember of even (sic) the simplest of words. In the medical jargon, it has aphasia (sic). I spent 5 weeks in hospital. Initially no one knew what my prognosis was.

But I got, and still am getting, better. Some times amusing. Some times frustrating. But, after those early days, I can feel and see improvements. And best of all, I am still me!!! So, looking over the year, there have been good and bad – but let’s not dwell on the bad. On the plus, I am certainly in excellent physical (sic), and I have had the time to do some things. I have learned to use Photoshop, I have taken a course on New Zealand art, and I have taken a photography course. I took and passed my Real Estate Salesperson examination. I am able to keep the farm under control (but there is still (sic) any money in it!)

My impairment continues to reduce. My ability to speak, read and write is ‘passable’ but some distance way from my ‘old’ self. And as I get tired, my performance declines often dramatically. Even now, as I write, I can feel my ability is declining rapidly. My words are coming more slowly, the sentences are getting worse and my head is hurting. But only 6 months ago it would have taken me several hours over 2 days and many rests. It was a bit like a long lunch – the sort of lunch one could have in the 1980s (and for some well into the 1990s). Couple of hours or so, and some wine. After lunch, one could stagger back to the office, get a cup of coffee and check messages. Anything that wasn’t urgent could wait until tomorrow morning – and even then one could try to delay until the issue (sic). Trouble is that now I have got no tomorrow clear head. I have just had to adjust. But it is getting better.

So, I am certainly not looking backwards (thanks (sic) goodness, they say. I will not bet a round robin newsletter every anniversary or Xmas!) But last week I started as a career as a Business Broker. So let’s see how that goes.

So, again:  it has been a long road. And best of all, I am still me.

Roger is a member of the Rodney Aphasia Group (RAG) which meets in Silverdale, North Auckland. Roger is a former Trustee of AphasiaNZ.

Living with Aphasia: Colin and Fiona

‘I have aphasia, it makes it hard for me to communicate sometimes because the language part of my brain was affected by a massive stroke.

Communication allows people to know me – so struggling can affect how people see me and treat me and also how I feel about myself.

It can be really frustrating – knowing exactly what I want to say and just NOT BEING ABLE TO GET MY BRAIN TO GIVE ME THE WORDS I WANT!!

The good news is, your brain can re-wire and relearn. It takes a lot of work, a lot of practice and a lot of patience – but I have trained my brain to use language again. It’s taken a LONG time – 6 years to get to write this….(with help) but I’m still training, and my brain is still improving.

I’m on a journey and I don’t plan to stop!

Kōrero Club has been so much part of that journey – it’s a place I can try new things without feeling self-conscious, because everyone there understands. It’s a place where we can laugh and joke and be our “new normal selves”. It’s a place help to others (sic) by sharing experiences and tips and support. It’s a place to get help from others when you’re having a tough day. It’s a group of likeminded people – just like any other group – its priceless!’

Colin

Colin’s stroke instantly transformed this young fit healthy man, husband and father. It robbed him of his speech, his mobility, his independence, his identity – and his life as he knew it. We take communication for granted every time we need to answer a question, express a need, tell someone how we feel or simply socially interact with others.

The inability to communicate challenges every interaction and every relationship to its core – from the closest of family bonds to the most superficial or fleeting interaction.

It is frightening, isolating, humiliating, frustrating, confusing, and exhausting.

6 years along our journey of recovery – Colin has regained much of his language through dogged determination, relentless practice and unwavering positivity. Some days  are devastatingly hard, some days are joyously rewarding, every day a new opportunity to achieve a goal in what is the “new normal” of our family life.  It is a new normal for us all, not defined by “how things used to be” – it is defined by the fact that Colin is still Colin, Colin is still the husband and the father, Colin has valuable talents and experiences to offer, Colin has many stories to tell – sometimes it may take him a bit longer – but they are worth the wait!

Fiona

Colin & Fiona live in Tauranga. Colin acquired aphasia from a stroke in 2013.