Aphasia from Two Points-of-View
One of my favourite things about Kelly and Brad Marsh’s new book, Love Stroke, is that the same moments are told from two different points-of-view.
This means that you get to hear about Kelly’s recovery from her stroke and how she processed language during her early days of aphasia both as Brad experienced it and as Kelly experienced it. Do the two versions match up? You’ll have to read on for this latest installment of our online book club.
Brad’s account of Kelly’s aphasia had her struggling with words. On page 66, he explains,
She would form and say the word in her brain, but what came out was a different word or word fragment. It’s common for aphasia patients to substitute a different word when they can’t produce the correct one … Kelly used the word control and the phrase “going to be okay.” Those were her go-to words when she was having trouble finding the right ones, so she said them for nealy everything, which made verbal communication next to impossible. I think she realized at that point that her speech was not right. She knew what she was trying to say, and it sounded right in her mind, but when it came out, it was something totally different. She didn’t comprehend why I couldn’t understand her, because the words sounded right to her.
Communication is muddled, but in other stories, Kelly is able to convey her likes and dislikes. She conveys her desire to go home and expresses understanding of her stroke.
When the chapter switches to Kelly’s point-of-view, the reader gets a very different picture of how much she understands and can communicate during the early days. The most eye-opening story appears on page 69:
I was happy to have my own room. There was an interesting piece of art on the wall; it was round, and it had numbers around the outside of the circle and pointers that moved around the circle. I didn’t realize at the time that it was a clock.
Losing a common word like “clock” drives home aphasia’s depth. It’s one thing to forget rare terms; it’s another to forget everyday words like clock, cup, or go. Kelly experiences a lot of frustration over losing her words — a vital part of her identity. Words allow her to do a job she loves and communicate with her family and friends. Suddenly that avenue for connection is gone.
Each version fills in vital information the other person leaves out, giving the reader a panoramic view of life with aphasia. Brad tells us what it is like to try to communicate with Kelly, and Kelly tells us what it is like to be inside her brain. Together they paint a vivid picture of what it is like to live without words to trade back and forth.
Do you think your loved ones would tell the same story about your aphasia, or do you think your two versions would differ?
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Image: themtube2 via Flickr via Creative Commons license
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