Personal accounts about aphasia usually come after the person has recovered. You read their first person account knowing that they’ve regained their ability to use language. If not, the book wouldn’t exist.
This is why Blue Banana, a blog written by a husband following his wife’s stroke, is such an important find. He begins with the stroke in late January 2017 and continues until today. The blog explains Amanda’s anomic aphasia in real time.
Why Blue Banana
The tagline for the blog is “Oranges are pink, bananas are blue. My memory discharged, so now 4+3=2.” But wait… bananas aren’t blue. That’s the point. The about page explains that the title is about life after a stroke. Her brain is trying to remember the word for that curved piece of fruit and the concept of colours. Hence the name of the blog: Blue Banana.
He first covers Amanda’s aphasia on the fourth day of rehab in March, about a month after the stroke. He explains:
She has aphasia and has difficulty saying meaningful sentences, naming objects or remembering people and events, even from earlier in the day. This was caused by the location of her bleed. This does seem to be improviing very slightly each day but I need to speak to the speech therapist to find out how I should be approaching it. She knows *what* to say and can understand what is being said to her, but either the completely wrong words come out, or none at all. This also affects her ability to read.
A few days later he delves deeper into her inability to use language.
She has absolutely no problem with speaking – apart from the actual words! The stroke has taken her ability to recognise nouns. So a book might be a cloud, or a comb might be an umbrella. But the frustrating thing is she KNOWS what she says out loud is wrong, she just cannot yet connect the brain to the mouth.
Reading is affected, too. After a few months, he shows her the blog and she makes her way through the first post. But it’s slow-going. He explains,
If I show her words written down in short sentences they are unreadable. Yet if I ask her to spell words out loud 99 times out of a 100 she gets the spelling correct every time. This means that she is somehow able to read some things… sometimes. But there is still no logic to what she seems to be able to make sense of writing-wise.
This week she progressed to returning to her cookbooks:
Amanda spent an hour looking through her many recipe books. This is the first time she has shown any interest in these for 6 months. Her anomic aphasia (we are narrowing it down to a very specific type now), means she can read in her head, but not aloud, or paraphrase what she has just read. But the books held her concentration for an hour.
This blog is a wonderful resource because the story is still unfolding, and you can read about Amanda’s progress in real time. While you can access the most current posts by clicking the “blog” tab at the top of the page, you can also read the blog chronologically. It begins in February and the “next post” button at the bottom of the page takes you through the story until today.
What are your favourite aphasia blogs?
Image: Brenda Godinez via Unsplash